he USP Cook Islands Campus has been working hard to help deliver the skills teachers need to preserve, teach, promote and encourage the usage of Cook Islands Māori language, or Te Reo Māori Kuki Airani.
Through a leading-edge linguistics programme offered at USP, teachers in the Cook Islands can study towards either a Certificate or Diploma in Vernacular Languages: Cook Islands Māori.
This course enables teachers to enhance their knowledge and transfer these skill sets into their practice of teaching Māori.
“As the coronavirus began hurling challenges into the delivery of our summer school course in December 2020, Dr Ake Nicholas and I began deliberating about how we could facilitate the CM331 Kimi Kiteanga Kuki Airani Research Methods (Cook Islands Research Methods) course in the midst of a pandemic,” said Dr Debi Futter-Puati, Campus Director of the USP Cook Islands Campus. Through extensive discussions and planning we came up with an alternative method for the instruction of the summer school course which was to be offered for the first time.
As we went about redesigning the course, we decided to think outside of the traditional approach of one lecturer and instead invited multiple Cook Islands academics to join us and participate as guest lecturers.
Ultimately, through their generosity, this led to us being able to draw on the expertise of a prestigious lineup of Cook Islands academics to support the delivery of the course as an intensive face to face class from 4 – 22 January.
Over three weeks, the students had the occasion to listen to thirteen Cook Islands researchers share their ideas about taking a uniquely Cook Islands approach to their research.
Each presenter shared their specific research, while also focusing on how they took Indigenous Cook Islands approaches within their practice. These lectures ensured the students were ably equipped to design their action research project to investigate the status of Cook Islands Māori language in their own settings. The teachers are now completing their action research projects in their schools. Findings will be presented at a research symposium later in the year.
Dr Christina Newport, a post-doctoral research fellow at Auckland University, described the course as “vitally important”. Dr Newport added, “If we are able to take this particular course and put in front of them (Cook Islanders) who are researchers, it is not only going to add to the type of research they undertake, but also the way in which they carry this out, therefore, privileging our own local language and our own perspectives to come up with solutions that work for here [Cook Islands]”. She went on to say, “It’s making use of their perspectives as Cook Islanders; as people living, breathing, teaching Cook Islands languages in a way that hasn’t been done before.”
Dr Futter-Puati believes this may be the first time that a USP course has involved such a group of academics to deliver a course. She said USP were very privileged and thankful to the academics for the gift of their time and wisdom in delivering this course.
The academics that participated in the programme were: Dr Ake Nicholas – Linguistics (Massey University), Eliza Puna PhD candidate – Mental Health (University of Auckland), Dr Evangelene Daniela-Wong – Moana Mana Youth at risk (Te Marae Ora), Dr Christina Newport – Vaka Moana Climate Change (University of Auckland), Professor Tania Ka’ai – Indigenous Research Methodologies (Auckland University of Technology), Dr Teina Rongo – Marine Science, Makiuti Tongia – Cook Islands research methods, Professor Bobbie Hunter – use of cultural context for mathematics (Massey University), Dr Neti Herman – youth health (University of Auckland), Associate Professor Jodie Hunter – Pasifika mathematics (Massey University), Associate Professor Yvonne Underhill-Sem – gender and migration (University of Auckland), Dr Debi Futter-Puati – Tivaevae and sexuality (USP) and Dr Ali Glasgow – revitalising reo Kuki Airani in ECE (Victoria University of Wellington)
This course will continue to be offered at the Cook Islands Campus in the future.