Huakina mai te tatau o tōu whare: Opening University Doors to Indigenous Students

  • Meegan Hall
  • Kelly Keane-Tuala
  • Mike Ross
  • Awanui Te Huia


The massification of higher education continues to transform student cohorts worldwide and to challenge what it means to teach students effectively (Altbach et al. 2009). As part of this global trend, indigenous students are participating in university study at higher rates than ever before, often with mixed results (Frawley et al. 2015; Jones Brayboy et al. 2015; Theodore et al. 2015). Some universities offer programs that help indigenous students transition into higher learning. One such program is the Tohu Māoritanga (Tohu), the Diploma in Māoritanga, at Victoria University of Wellington. The Tohu prepares Māori students for the academic rigours of university study but also eases the acculturation process (Berry 1997; Ward 2006), creates Māori cultural enclaves and affirms their Māori identity (Hall et al. 2013). This chapter discusses research on acculturation theory, integration and cultural identity in the transition of Māori and other indigenous students into higher education. It outlines the student-centred Tohu program, and reflects on its academic, institutional and societal challenges. Ultimately, this chapter presents a way of ‘opening the doors’ to university study, and learning from as well as teaching indigenous students, in keeping with the Māori proverb, ‘Huakina mai te tatau o tōu whare kia kite atu ai i tōu maunga mātauranga’ (Open the doors of your house and see the mountain of knowledge that is within).


Indigenous Cultural identity Acculturation Integration 


  1. Altbach, P. G., Reisberg, L., & Rumbley, L. E. (2009). Trends in global higher education: Tracking an academic revolution. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  2. Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). (2011). Trends in higher education. Retrieved from
  3. Bell, A. (2006). New Zealand or Aotearoa? The battle for nationhood in the English curriculum. Curriculum Studies, 2(2), 171–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berry, J. (1997). Immigration, acculturation, and adaption. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 46(1), 5–68.Google Scholar
  5. Berry, J. (2005). Acculturation: Living successfully in two cultures. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 26(1), 697–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bristowe, Z., Fruean, S., & Baxter, J. (n.d.). Te Whakapuāwai – A programme to support Māori student transition and achievement in health sciences. Retrieved from
  7. Chinlund, E., & Hall, M. (2010). Views from ‘Last Resort’: Experiences of Māori undergraduate students who transitioned from tertiary bridging programmes. In Making the links: Making the links: Learning, teaching and high quality student outcomes (p. 27).Google Scholar
  8. Creative Spirits. (2015). Aboriginal students in higher studies at university. Retrieved from
  9. Department of Corrections. (2007). Over-representation of Māori in the criminal justice system: An exploratory report. Retrieved from
  10. Department of Justice. (1989). Principles for crown action on the treaty of Waitangi. Wellington: Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  11. Education Counts. (2011). Highest attainment numbers by ethnic group (2009–2010). Retrieved from
  12. Education Counts. (2014). Attrition and retention. Retrieved from
  13. Education Counts. (2015a). Course completion rates. Retrieved from
  14. Education Counts. (2015b). Participation. Retrieved from
  15. Egge, S., & Kutieleh, S. (2004). Critical thinking: Teaching foreign notions to foreign students. International Education Journal, 4(4), 2004 Educational Research Conference 2003 Special Issue, 75–85.Google Scholar
  16. Frawley, J., Smith, J. A., & Larkin, S. (2015). Beyond Bradley and Behrendt: Building a stronger evidence-base about Indigenous pathways and transitions into higher education. International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts, 17, 8–11.Google Scholar
  17. Hall, M., Rata, A., & Adds, P. (2013). He Manu Hou: The transition of Māori students into Māori studies. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, 4(4), 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Harris, R., Cormack, D., Tobias, M., Yeh, L. C., Talamaivao, N., Minster, J., & Timutimu, R. (2012). The pervasive effects of racism: experiences of racial discrimination in New Zealand over time and associations with multiple health domains. Social Science & Medicine, 74(3), 408–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hill, R. (2009). Māori and the state: Crown Māori relations in New Zealand/Aotearoa, 1950–2000. Wellington: Victoria University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Houkamau, C. A., & Sibley, C. G. (2015). Looking Māori predicts decreased rates of home ownership: Institutional racism in housing based on perceived appearance. PLoS One, 10(3), 379–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huata, H. P. (1921). Te Ingoa o te Pepa. Te Toa Takitini, 5, 18–19.Google Scholar
  22. Hughes, B., & Ahern, S. (1993). Redbrick and Bluestockings: Women at Victoria, 1899–1993. Wellington: Victoria University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Irwin, K. (1992). Māori education in 1992: A review and discussion. New Zealand Annual Review of Education, 2, 71–91.Google Scholar
  24. Jones Brayboy, B. M., Solyom, J. A., & Castagno, A. E. (2015). Indigenous peoples in higher education. Journal of American Indian Education, 54(1), 154–186.Google Scholar
  25. Keane-Tuala, K., Ross, M., & Te Huia, A. (2016). Tohu Māoritanga Review 2015. Unpublished internal review.Google Scholar
  26. Madjar, I., McKinley, E., Deynzer, M., & van der Merwe, A. (2010). Stumbling blocks or stepping stones? Students’ experience of transition from low-mid decile schools to university. Auckland: Starpath Project, The University of Auckland.Google Scholar
  27. Māori Studies Department. (n.d.). Te Herenga Waka Marae: A short history, description, and general guidelines for the use of the marae. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington.Google Scholar
  28. McIntosh, T. (2005). Māori identities: Fixed, fluid, forced. In J. H. Liu, T. McCreanor, T. McIntosh, & T. Teaiwa (Eds.), New Zealand identities: Departures and destinations. Wellington: Victoria University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Mead, H. M. (1983). Te toi mātauranga Māori mō ngā rā kei mua: Māori studies tomorrow. The Journal of Polynesian Society, 92(3), 333–351.Google Scholar
  30. Mead, H. M. (2003). Tikanga Māori: Living by Māori Values. Wellington: Huia.Google Scholar
  31. National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). Digest of education statistics. Retrieved from
  32. Perkins, C. (1975). A bastard like me. Sydney: Ure Smith.Google Scholar
  33. Pratto, F., Sidanius, J., & Levin, S. (2006). Social dominance theory and the dynamics of intergroup relations: Taking stock and looking forward. European Review of Social Psychology, 17, 271–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rata, A. (2015). The Māori identity migration model. MAI Review, 4(1), 3–14.Google Scholar
  35. Reilly, M. J. (2011). Māori studies, past and present: A review. The Contemporary Pacific, 23(2), 340–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rigney, L. (2011). Review of indigenous higher education. Retrieved from
  37. Searle, W., & Ward, C. (1990). The prediction of psychological and sociocul- tural adjustment during cross-cultural transitions. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 14, 449–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sibley, C., & Liu, J. H. (2004). Attitudes towards biculturalism in New Zealand: Social dominance and Pakeha attitudes towards the general principles and resource-specific aspects of bicultural policy. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 33, 88–99.Google Scholar
  39. Statistics New Zealand. (2013). Te Kupenga. Retrieved from
  40. Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. (2013). Story: Ngata, Apirana Turupa. Retrieved from
  41. Te Huia, A. (2014). Indigenous culture and society: Creating space for indigenous Māori cultural and linguistic development within a discriminatory post-colonial society. Psychology and Developing Societies, 26(2), 233–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tertiary Education Commission. (2014). Tertiary Education strategy 2014–2019. Retrieved from
  43. Theodore, R., Tustin, K., Kiro, C., Gollop, M., Taumoepeau, M., Taylor, N., Chee, K., Hunter, J., & Poulton, R. (2015). Māori university graduates: indigenous participation in higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. University of Canterbury. (n.d.-a). Certificate in university preparation. Retrieved from
  45. University of Waikato. (n.d.). University preparation. Retrieved from
  46. Vedder, P., & Virta, E. (2005). Language, ethnic identity, and the adaption of Turkish immigrant youth in the Netherlands and Sweden. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 29(3), 317–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Victoria University of Wellington. (n.d.). Graduate profile. Retrieved from
  48. Ward, C. (2006). Acculturation, identity and adaption in dual heritage adolescents. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 30(2), 243–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Williams, T. (2011). It’s about empowering the whānau: Māori adult students succeeding at university. Waikato Journal of Education, 16(3), 57–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zepke, N., & Leach, L. (2007). Educational quality, institutional accountability and the retention discourse. Quality in Higher Education, 13(3), 237–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meegan Hall
    • 1
  • Kelly Keane-Tuala
    • 1
  • Mike Ross
    • 1
  • Awanui Te Huia
    • 1
  1. 1.Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations