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Keynote - Part 1

Duration: 07:58

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Part 1 of Dr Mere Berryman's Keynote Address.



Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our keynote speaker this morning, Dr Mere Berryman.

Dr Mere Berryman
E ngā mana, e ngā a reo, e ngā maunga, e ngā awaawa, e ngā pātaka o ngā taonga tuku iho, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa. Ki te whānau whānui o Te Kotahitanga, tēnā koutou katoa.

So Russell and I thought about what was it that we could talk to you about at your conference. And I guess that what I’m going to do is attempt to do that. It’s our reflection on your journey. A journey that has been very powerful, a journey that was a small seed but quite a lot of substance sat around that seed. Russell had been working on his thinking, on his ideas, he’d been writing about it, for a good 15 years before we actually started our conversation about how we were going to change education in New Zealand, one Social Studies teacher at a time. It was a good idea at the time, wasn’t it Russell? You can see we’ve changed just a little bit.

So the story that I hope to unfold to you this morning is our story. It’s a story about how we have for years, sought to transform the identities of Māori students in New Zealand schools, and where we’ve landed up is in New Zealand secondary schools, I’d be very afraid for all of those schools that we haven’t yet touched. I’m going to talk about where we’ve been, I’m going to talk about what we’ve learned, and I’m going to talk about what the future can hold. For us as individuals but for us as a nation.

You think that Te Kotahitanga was always Te Kotahitanga, well no sorry it had a really flash name when we started out with the phase 1 schools, there it is there – The Experiences of Year 9 and 10 Māori students in mainstream classrooms, the catchy little title. 2001 … there was actually a little period before that when we did a scoping exercise which showed actually, students had some pretty good answers. It allowed us to go back to the Ministry of Education and get a little bit more money, and we’ve been going back for a little bit more and a little bit more and it’s really good that Ed’s here this morning because we wouldn’t say no to a lot of bit more.

However in 2001 there were 3 plus 3. There were my two guardians and I cried yesterday morning and I looked out to the audience and I saw people who were … who were there too. Rangiwhakaehu is the first lady, you can see here Aunty Nan, she looked a little bit different there, she didn’t have the additional chin decoration in 2001. Mate Reweti and another wonderful woman, Ka O’Brien they were the three who looked after us and continued to look after us, our rōpū whakaruruhau… They were also probably the oldest researchers in New Zealand, because as Russell will tell you and I know full well, they went into the schools with us and they gathered those stories. Then there was the other three, there was a person that many of you have not met, Cath Richardson who stayed in education but has gone onto other things. And there was Russell and I.

So that’s how we started, we started looking at the experiences of Yr9 and 10 Māori students. That was the area of the greatest need, that’s where they were leaving school in disproportionate numbers, and we gathered the narratives of experiences. And I can’t tell you who those schools were, you’ll see that we gathered them in 5 schools but we only worked with 4. That was 1 of my then colleagues in the Ministry who had a great idea. While we’d been trying to get a range of schools that represented secondary school in New Zealand, large schools, rural schools, single sex; you name it, we had it. And I can remember my colleague from the Ministry saying ’oh that’s really good but um, you haven’t got a boarding school in there’. And so we went and got a fifth story, so that we knew that we had the experiences of secondary schools boarding schools. You know who we talked with. They were all volunteers, we didn’t go into schools and say “we need to …”. We went in saying “we would like to …”. A very kaupapa Māori inclusive self-determining process that we’ve continued to live by. So it’s not about, you’ve got to talk to us, it was about would you like to talk with us? And the school was able to define who it was and who they were. That process of gathering the narratives of experiences was a really enlightening process for the 6 of us. I remember 1 very close to me at the time, where I went into that narrative session with Mate Reweti, and that 1 lasted for 4 days. I’m sure it would’ve continued on the Friday but luckily the All Blacks were playing, and on the Thursday night people around the table said no that’s fine, we think we’ve told you everything we know. And that is something that continues to amaze me in Te Kotahitanga, the generosity of people who have touched our lives. We worked as both researchers and PD’ers in phase 1. We worked with 11 teachers and you know that we analysed the narratives and we undertook and developed a very preliminary observation tool.


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