Working in the community sector in the capital city of Aotearoa New Zealand, impacts of our colonial past are apparent. Although Maori make up about 12% of the Wellington population, they are the largest group of people who come to DCM, because as with other colonised countries our indigenous people are the most likely to be poor and marginalised.
I see that my role as director of DCM is to ensure that the people we engage with receive the best possible assistance. Key to this is to make certain that people feel ‘at home’; something that goes beyond being respected or even being culturally acknowledged. In New Zealand, this is often referred to as ‘cultural safety’ but that somewhat clinical term fails to convey the warmth, for example, of ensuring people experience a sense of being whanau, for this is the gesture we need to provide to ensure ‘a culturally appropriate experience’.
There are numerous ways that our small, dedicated, bi-cultural team work to achieve this standard. One of those ways is to find a new language that draws on Maori concepts, that goes beyond corporately influenced ‘western speak’. Another is to provide programmes that reflect the interests, identity and needs of people who are Maori. That is why the most recent addition to DCM’s offering of services has been to pilot a cultural connections programme ‘Tuku Atu Tuku Mai’. Above all we want our practice to be real, authentic, integrated into our lives and not just some tacked-on tokenism. Sadly there are many examples of organisations paying lip service to this significant issue.
Mark Johnston (New Zealand),
I am seeking to address, how we develop and train leaders of missional change for Presbyterian contexts and conditions shaped by church centric imagination and practices. In the midst of performance pressures to maintain the internal status quo, or alleviate disruption, or grow church numbers, ministers struggle to transcend the functional demands of shoring up congregations. Anxious congregations easily sideline leadership attempts to address deeper adaptive work of the church’s vocation and change.
These circumstances suggest the leadership habits and classical capacities of Presbyterian ministers are insufficient for acting on this challenge. The skills and imagination required to cultivate and sustain God shaped mission and lead culture change are not easily deployed. So this project will examine the learning needs of ordained leaders in cultivating missional change in Presbyterian contexts, and use this understanding to generate adaptive questions for training.
Studying at Victoria University of Wellington for a BA in Maori Studies in the 1980s to contribute towards my training for High School teaching, I encountered many Maori students with other understandings of spirituality and wairuatanga. Coming myself from a strong Anglican upbringing I encountered Roman Catholic, Wesleyan, Ringatu, Ratana and agnostic students: as well as a significant number of both Maori students and lecturers who were convinced that in order to remain true to their own Maori selves they had to forgo an Israeli God and pursue the various Atua-spiritual forces known both across Aotearoa and in individual iwi-tribes. Although I ultimately did not ascribe to these arguments to return to a pre-Christian wairuatanga I listened to these assertions with a strong intent and respect.
I also feel deeply compelled to take my faith in God that I have found over the last 20 years and revisit the arguments I heard at Victoria that Maori needed to return to their former wairuatanga in order to remain authentic to their Maori identity. I want to reflect quietly on the personhood of God that I have seen through Jesus – and what it has to offer Maori. I also want to further explore the belief that Maori should return to the Atua-forces, and some significant hesitations I have towards this.
My chosen area of further research and writing, and the focus of my dissertation, is in the area of Māori language learning. I have studied te reo Māori for 4 years. As a classroom teacher in te Tai Tokerau, I have a strong desire to uncover how learning and using te reo Māori impacts on Māori students in mainstream school settings and how my own choice to continue learning te reo Māori, may make a positive difference for all my students, Māori and Pākehā.
I am a Pākehā. My commitment to learning te reo Māori is a deep personal desire to influence, in some small way, a higher level of understanding of and between Māori and Pākehā in Aotearoa, to acknowledge the rich diversity of our nation, to encourage us to work together in celebration of our differences, to care for and respect one another and generate a positive way forward together as two founding peoples – amongst many peoples – in one land.
My dissertation is the final body of work to complete my Bachelor of Education (Honours) programme. I intend to use the time to read, write and think about the topic of language learning in building relationship between Māori and Pākehā in modern New Zealand education.