Winter 2019

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The Community Issue

The value of strong connections

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Angus Hikairo Macfarlane
25 Jul 2019

Engaging parents, whānau and hapori

It is widely acknowledged that engaging whānau and community in educational activities that support the learning of their children is mutually beneficial. It is also acknowledged that this is not always straightforward. Engaging parents, whānau and hapori (communities) can be complex given the range of dominant cultural perspectives frequently embedded within the educational conundrum. To make this partnership for learning possible, it is necessary to recognise that the system has a long history of not being open to working together with whānau and hapori as equal partners. Addressing this imbalance is a shared responsibility. We can gain insight by looking at other educational contexts that have successfully facilitated wider engagement. A recent overseas study1 explored how an Indigenous intervention programme delivered in British Columbia, Canada, was able to be authentically implemented in diverse communities. The study uncovered three notable themes to fostering the active engagement of family. The first theme, overcoming mistrust, involves understanding the history of the situation. It involves working hard to gain trust and reflecting on one’s own possible personal biases and privileges. The second theme, being willing to reach out and build relationships, is about nurturing relationships with cultural leaders in the community, offering choices and

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