Follow by Email

Monday, 18 June 2012

Activity Eleven; Indigenous Learners

How can you include examples of New Zealand's indigenous culture in the design of your eLearning courses - language, society, history, political issues etc.?

The Hospitality and Tourism programmes within Otago Polytechnic attract a small percentage of Maori and Pasifika students and the continuing challenge is to retain those students to success and completion, within those programmes.

Designing an eLearning course in regards to incorporating language of the indigenous culture could mean initially incorporating key words in the titles of the course, so that there is a bilingual component to it. Introduction to Tourism looks at NZ history and culture, exploring the domestic attractions and the way they are being marketed before expanding globally to other cultures. There would be opportunity to incorporate more indigenous History of the local Otago region and the local tribe of Nga Tahu
What approaches can you utilise to meet the needs of indigenous learners?

Otago Polytechnic recognises the need to equip its staff with' knowledge of culture, heritage and language skills'( Greenwood, J.,& Lynne- Hairata, T. A. (2009), by encouraging all lecturers to gain the Certificate in  Mata a Ao Maori.  I have recently completed a certificate in Te Ara Reo Maori and found the learning journey very inspiring as it involved;

  • Introductions, singing and welcoming speeches
  • Maori protocols, customs and processes
  • Large and small group work
  • Relationship building
  • Repetitive, cognitive rhyming games
  • Laughter, fun and support (from lecturers, students and Wananga)
  • Participation in a safe environment
  • Scenarios provided for us to connect the learning
  • Weekly singing and prayers
  • Role plays e.g. buying groceries at the shop
  • Noho Marae, sharing of food
  • Weaving and learning our Whakapapa
  • Course books, CD roms and dictionaries
  • Preparing and presenting a 15 minute speech in Maori 
Emphasis was placed on a holistic and full immersion of the language with each member feeling part of the family.  We collaborated and attended to the oral and spiritual nature of the language, we learnt about our history and culture.  I listened to their stories and they listened to mine. There was respect, hospitality and reciprocal attending to needs.  It was an emotional farewell at the end of the year.  This process of learning is outlined in the video; Te Whare Tapa Wha, all the domains were attended to and I made a journey of safe passage through the course,  "Students and teachers worked as a whanau".(Greenwood, J.,& Lynne-Hairata, T.A. (2009).
My experience has led me to incorporate some of these sections into my teaching to meet the needs of indigenous learners, there are support staff and technical help available as I have come to understand that "Academic goals are not separated for the holistic development of the people who are to be its graduates". (Greenwood, J.,& Lynne-Hairata, T.A. (2009).

 Outline any experiences you have had working with indigenous learners.

On average approximately 3% of our learners are indigenous.  Generally speaking they have low literacy and numeracy skills, so are offered the support at the beginning of the programme, having been through the orientation process.
Attendance is important for group work, learning practical skills and assessments, these students fall behind often because of commitments to family or other personal reasons.  This is where on-line assessments give that flexibility but for Hospitality/Tourism Industry practical skills are obviously very important.

What were some of the challenges that you and the learners faced?

The challenges for us as educators are to fully engage the learners at the beginning of the course and for the learners to feel safe and supported in a new environment. (Powhiri process).

How did this affect their learning?

If attendance becomes an issue then the process becomes disjointed, it is then easy to get behind with work and many of these learners do not achieve their certificates.


Greenwood,  J., & Lynne-Hairata,  T.A. (2009). Hei tauira: summary document. Wellington, New Zealand: Ako Aotearoa.

Knowing your Learner - Engaging Maori Learners.

Neal, T. & Collier, H (2006).  Weaving Kaupapa Maori and e-learning.  Journal of Maori and Pacific development, 7 (2): 68-73.

Clayton, J.F., Rata-Skudder, N., & Baral. (2004).  Pasifika communities online: and implications.


  1. A wonderful post Helen. Your experience in Te Ara Reo Maori sounds amazing. This will certainly strengthen your resolve to integrate Te Whare Tapa Wha principles in your courses. Have you and ideas how more Maori and Pacific Island students could be attracted t study tourism?

  2. Maybe building more robust relationships with the local schools, as most of our students studied Tourism before they came to us.

  3. Kia ora Helen, It is excellent to see you thinking about use of te reo Māori to enhance the relevance of your course to Indigenous leaners. You have also made an amazing commitment in terms of your learning of the language; well done. It would be worth having a conversation with Ron Bull in terms of whether you can apply for APL/cross credits from Te Ara to the Certificate in Mata ā Ao Māori.

    I am interested to hear about other tactics that you might use to enhance Indigenous learner engagement, outside of language.

  4. Hi Cate,
    Thanks for your comments, it was an amazing experience and I would like to incorporate the way the programme was taught, into my classes. I already have the Mata a Ao Maori certificate, but thanks for that.