TE VAKA POKAIKAI – Voyage to excellence
Secondary school teaching is a profession that requires critical reflexivity to bring about change for marginalized communities. Fortunately, this is something we as Pasifika/Pacific leaders often do, with the intent to improve education outcomes for the students we teach, especially the Pasifika/Pacific students we have stewardship over. Everything we have done and continue to do at Tokoroa High School and in our community is intentional. We are intentional in our planning, conversations, and actions. In this paper we intentionally prioritise the use of our own cultural knowledge, values, and practices to enable change; shifting direction towards Cook Islands-inspired patu tuatua (conversations) within the western education system we work within, in Aotearoa-NZ. We often draw from our ancestral knowledge through sources that are not published in western academia but are deeply embedded in our ancestral knowledge systems tied explicitly to our ‘enua - land. Our positioning of patu tuatua stems from being inspired by Indigenous Pasifika/Pacific practices and finding the courage to develop a cultural framework that connects with Cook Islands worldviews from and within the context of education. Our cultural framework – Te Vaka Pokaikai is based on five key components: Orama – vision; Kite – knowledge; Itiki’anga – connections; Piri’anga – relationships; and Te Au Irinaki’anga – values.
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