Ki te Taumata: a Personal Journey into the Multiple Identities of Academically High Achieving Māori Girls
This thesis investigates the multiple identities of four academically high achieving, Māori girls negotiated in one English Medium mainstream schooling environment. The study sought to determine how these young women have grown to define and develop diverse understandings of what it means to “be Māori” and “high achieving” within this context. The metaphor of plotting a path from the foothills to the peak of a mountain is used to describe the journey that the participants of this study, and I as a researcher, undertook during this process. Participating in this journey were 13 travellers; four academically high achieving Māori girls, four caregivers and four of the girls’ friends. I also identify myself as a Māori female researcher as a traveller since I tell a story that has attempted to be transparent and personal. This case study was guided by Kaupapa Māori research protocols (Smith, 1999; Bishop & Glynn, 2003) and Personal Experience methodology (Clandinin & Connelly, 1994). Such protocols were useful in enabling me to tell this research story. However, this was not the research journey I expected to take when I first set off. Through this inquiry process I learned about the influence of society and colonisation on the construction of identity. I learned how pressures and stereotypes, aligned with socialisation processes, lie beneath our consciousness and inform our individual and collective identities. The conversations with fellow participants of the study highlight the limitations in our understanding of what it means to be Māori and achieve educational success “as Māori” amongst contemporary youth today. The findings of this study suggest that multiple complex Māori identities exist amongst contemporary Māori youth. Further research and discussion about what it means to “be Māori” needs to occur to ensure that we cater for the needs of all Māori learners. Recommendations include establishing a professional development programme for teachers to address the way knowledge is constructed and perpetuated in a contemporary, postcolonial society. A focus on motivation, gender, indigeneity and special/gifted abilities was not investigated in this thesis.