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Fostering Cultural Identity in Education: Empowering Māori Rangatahi

Rangatahi Kapa Haka

As a nation, New Zealand has a rich and diverse cultural heritage. However, the history of colonisation has had a significant impact on the Māori people, resulting in a disconnection from their cultural identity. For Māori rangatahi, this disconnection can have a profound impact on their sense of self and belonging. As educators, it’s our responsibility to help our students connect with their culture and foster a sense of pride in their Māori Whakapapa.

Understanding the Impact of Colonisation on Cultural Identity

Colonisation in New Zealand resulted in the displacement of Māori from their lands and the imposition of European culture and values. The impact of colonisation on Māori culture and identity has been significant and long-lasting. Many Māori people have struggled to reconcile their cultural identity with the dominant culture, resulting in a disconnection from their whakapapa and cultural heritage.

For rangatahi, this disconnection can manifest in a range of ways, from feeling like they don’t belong to struggling with their cultural identity. Students may feel isolated from their peers or experience a sense of shame about their cultural heritage. These feelings can have a profound impact on their mental health and wellbeing, affecting their ability to learn and succeed in life.

Fostering Cultural Identity through Connection to Whakapapa

To address this disconnection and support our rangatahi in developing a stronger sense of self and belonging, we need to provide opportunities for them to connect with their Māori Whakapapa. Whakapapa refers to the genealogy and ancestral lines that connect Māori people to their past, present, and future. By fostering a sense of pride in their Whakapapa, we can help our students connect with their culture and develop a stronger sense of self.

There are many ways to connect with Whakapapa, from learning te reo Māori to visiting marae and participating in cultural activities. By exposing our students to Māori culture and encouraging them to participate in cultural activities, we can help them develop a deeper understanding of their heritage and foster a sense of pride in their identity.

Supporting Rangatahi on their Cultural Journey

As educators, we play a critical role in supporting our rangatahi on their cultural journey. It’s essential to create a safe and inclusive learning environment where students feel comfortable exploring their cultural identity. We can do this by providing opportunities for our students to share their cultural knowledge and experiences, acknowledging and respecting their cultural backgrounds, and promoting cultural diversity and inclusion.

We can also support our rangatahi by providing access to cultural resources, such as books, videos, and other educational materials that celebrate Māori culture and history. By integrating Māori perspectives and knowledge into our curriculum, we can help our students develop a deeper understanding of their culture and identity.

Ultimately, our goal as educators should be to help our rangatahi develop a sense of pride in their Māoritanga.

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