Saturday, 8 August 2015

What does Maori culture look like in the digital world?

I am an education professional, working with schools to build capacity for learning and teaching with digital technologies. As a middle class white woman teacher, I tried to build good relationships with all of my students and honour the intention of the Treaty of Waitangi which I believe laid the foundation of a bicultural nation. I am not sure if that was the intention of the Treaty of Waitangi, but but it certainly influenced my practice in that I wanted my Maori students to achieve and flourish in my classes.
 Acutely aware of my lack of knowledge around Maori culture, I tried to learn more and make connections to what I did in the class. Years on, I am still in the same predicament, - a middle class white woman trying to learn more and reach out and make connections. How do you capture the essence of Maori culture in a digital world? Efforts that I have made so far are almost a bastardisation of the Maori culture. I don't believe that culture is a static concept - it changes as the world progresses, but is it just downright rude of me to try to incorporate what I know of the culture in my work, or should I graciously bow out of trying? These are my thoughts this morning.


  1. I really appreciate your post, Leigh, I have often wondered about similar points myself. After the initial enthusiasm of wanting to soak up and apply te reo and tikanga as much as I could as new immigrant almost 20 years ago, I moved to the phase of "will my attempts belittle the culture?"
    Maybe I have it easier, with my accent it is very obvious that I have not grown up in New Zealand so maybe some faux pas are more easily forgiven. I think the fact that we are trying matters, the fact that we are working on being culturally - sensitive sounds not enough, inclusive seems to imply we are including it into the 'majority culture', maybe culturally cogniscent, or learners of multiple cultures (like languages)? There are other people much more eloquent that can describe it better.
    I am not saying we are perfect, but the fact that we white middle class womEn are talking about it and working on improving learning for all our learners means something, and looking at it from across the ditch I can see that some other countries could learn from that.
    What it means to be Māori in a digital world I can't answer, but I hope that it includes knowledge of te reo, of tikanga, of the past, to help guide the future.

  2. Thanks for your feedback, Monika. I guess I am really asking if it is my place to try to shape what Maori culture using digital technologies could look like.

  3. I read your comments with interest. I am currently doing PG study and this morning posted a discussion around the place of culture in 'digital immersion' classes. I too wonder what this will look like, particularly in relation to our priority learners.
    Like you, I am trying and hoping that I am sensitive to cultural needs - I hold on to knowing my learners for who they are, and responding to their individual needs. Holding onto this gives me some reassurance that this will lead to trusting relationships and some guidance from them when I have got it wrong, or I need support to get it right.
    I will eagerly follow your blog, hoping that someone can cast some light for me too :)