Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Exploring the Role of the Rock and Water Programme in the Improvement of Māori and Pacifika Boys' Engagement with School

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posted on 2021-11-12, 19:22 authored by McMillan, Andrew

The aim of this study is to explore boys’ achievement within a New Zealand secondary school. More specifically the focus of this research has been to look at the impact that an intervention programme – Rock and Water, has in improving boys’ engagement within a school. This study has explored how school engagement is defined and how it has an effect on boys. This research looked at how the school experience differs for Māori and Pasifika boys. Using secondary sources of data, this study examined how education fits within society as a form of social control and has attempted to position the school experience within containment theory. Factors considered were the dynamics within these programmes and the role teachers’ play in improving engagement. This research has specifically identified how intervention programmes might be used as a tool with schools pedagogy to raise Māori and Pasifika boys’ participation and engagement with school. A qualitative methodology was employed for this research, focusing on one New Zealand College. Primary sources of data were student questionnaires and individual student interviews. Questionnaires and interviews were also carried out with two of the teachers/facilitators delivering the programme. This study found that student engagement was improved as a consequence of their participation in the Rock and Water programme. For Māori boys, the opportunity to have fun and to connect with their peers was significant and identified by the participants in this study. For Pasifika boys, the results were mixed, those participating enjoyed it and said that it improved their engagement with school, the reasons behind why were not revealed in significant detail for this group. The pedagogies incorporated in the intervention programme (Rock and Water) had similarity with those advocated as part of Te Kōtahitanga. The weaving of Maori tikanga such as Ako, Manaakitanga and cultural performance helped in creating an environment whereby the boys participating were valued as being culturally located. For the teacher/facilitators, the initial aim of participating in the Rock and Water programme was to introduce an intervention that addressed issues of behaviour management. However as the programme grew in popularity and a space was created within the curriculum, the teacher/facilitators commented on the changing dynamic within the group. An identity based around shared values and experiences in the group was evolving. Over time this was utilised to promote participants into tuākana roles. Similarly, the embedding of the Rock and Water into the school curriculum led to it becoming part of the schools kaupapa or vision. Future challenges based on this study are to examine in greater detail the impact that the programme has in improving academic outcomes for Māori and Pasifika boys. The link between improved engagement and achievement is implied in participant responses, but quantitative data was not produced or explored due to the methodology chosen.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Education

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Te Kura Māori


Chu, Cherie