Te Taumata -te Timata: the Pinnacle - the First Step
Maori with Bachelors degrees in Information Technologies (IT) have specialist knowledge and skills far in advance of the general population of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Problematically, this point is lost in dominant higher education discourses that marginalise and position Maori negatively. The 'silence of the archives' with regard to Maori narratives of higher education is a compounding factor. While the largest proportions of Maori pursue tertiary education in the New Zealand Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITP), very little is known about them. Kaupapa Maori theorising and research practices enabled a new approach in an 'insurrection of suppressed knowledges' to identify and inform issues that are problematic for Maori in particular. A traditional Maori metaphor of poutama is used as a heuristic to illuminate core values and foundations of a Maori worldview and philosophy, to generate a 'reversal discourse' that gives a Maori perspective of the problems. Computer Graphic technologies portray the spirals of learning implied by the multi-levelled, multi stepped poutama; two heuristically separated worlds of Te Ao Maori and Te Ao Pakeha and their integration into Te Ao Hou, The New World. Re-interpreting a traditional role of Pae Arahi (Guides) as a Kaupapa Maori research approach, respected members of tangata whenua, the indigenous people of the land the ITPs are built on, facilitated appropriate entry into fieldwork. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews conducted in 2006-2007 with 17 tauira Maori (students and graduates), 7 IT staff and 12 Maori staff from three ITPs are the basis of narratives that 'positively image' Maori who gained IT qualifications in the ITPs. A re-presentation of poutama as whakapapa or genealogy explains the significance of foundational Maori values of wairuatanga (spirituality), whenua (land), tangata (people) and whanau (family), in academic success. A Maori worldview offers new perspectives of what success is and challenges of being Maori in the tertiary academy that are not commonly understood or acknowledged by non-Maori. Five steps on a learning poutama follow the tauira Maori in their first introductions to IT and prior education; enlightenment to the value of higher education for whanau and openness to new understandings in the IT field; increasing confidence in their abilities to learn, to apply and share IT knowledges; mastering the requirements of degrees in the academy and the challenges of the virtually mono-cultural IT field and ITP environments; their achievement of a pinnacle of IT degrees and other qualifications, and their first steps into work. Te Taumata, Te Timata expresses potentials for 'Maori Ways' to be combined with 'IT Ways' and for more Maori voices to be heard in the higher education discourse. Centrally it celebrates 17 unique individuals who are role models, and inspirations for other Maori to follow to their own successes.