Segregated Space and Tutorials

In document Barriers To Maori Student Success At The University Of Canterbury (Page 118-120)

CHAPTER SEVEN: BOUNDARY MAINTENANCE

7.2 CASE STUDY THE LAW SCHOOL

7.2.1 Segregated Space and Tutorials

The allocation of a designated Maori “space” in 1995 has provided Te Putairiki with a venue where, amongst other things, Maori law graduates and senior Te Putairiki students conduct exceptionally professional tutorials. However, as Blossom notes, the popularity of these programmes has proved problematic in terms of ethnic boundary- maintenance:

…since 1995 [Te Putairiki]…offered tutorials and…although they have not been…exclusive only to Maori, they’ve always been narrowly marketed to Maori students… in the last year or two, we’ve had more and more students who aren’t Maori…want to join because of the reputation that we’ve established. Our students all achieve…they all get into 2nd year law.

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Te Putairiki was formally established in 1993, the same year the first Maori Liaison Officer was appointed at UC. In a meeting held between the Maori Liaison Officer and Maori Law students, the decision was made to form a society. A constitution was written and became incorporated in 1995.

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Email from Te Putairiki executive member, August 1995.

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Two Te Putairiki members established the Canterbury Maori Mooting Team (CMMT) in 2002. The same year they won the Australasian round of the Stetson International Environmental Law Moot. As a result the CMMT represented Canterbury at the International Final in Florida in 2002. A member of the CMMT in conjunction with a non-Maori student won the New Zealand Mooting Competition. As a result of this win, two members of CMMT were among the New Zealand contingent that competed at the Jessop International Moot in Washington 2003. A member of CMMT won the Canterbury Mooting Competition in 2003 and represented Canterbury at the New Zealand Nationals, inaugural Human Rights Moot and Australian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) competition in Brisbane 2003. In 2004 two CMMT represented Canterbury at the ALSA in Sydney. Another CMMT represented Canterbury at the ALSA competition in 2005 where his team won second place.

The inclusion of non-Maori students, Blossom contends:

…changed the dynamics of the group…whereas Maori are more prepared to…work in a group environment, and let the group come up with the answer... [non-Maori]…were interacting differently, they don’t understanding this subconscious group [dynamic, that]…within a Maori group – no one wants to “show pony” – we’re all part of a collective...I don’t know what it is but it’s a very nice feeling, but these non-Maori students…totally disrupt that vibe and they even put the Maori students down if they get it wrong, so it got to a point where all…Maori students were clamping up. This group of non-Maori students…had no interest in Maori. What are they going to do for Maoridom long term? Nothing, nothing at all. They’re there to get…what they can…they’re taking advantage of a programme that’s there to help Maori.

Blossom has subsequently advised that Te Putairiki adopted a new policy with regard to non-Maori attending LAWS101 tutorials and cites minutes dated March 4, 2005:

Te Putairiki membership is open to all people regardless of ethnicity. Te Puna Manawa tutorials are only available to Maori students and Pacific Island students as stipulated by Student Services. However, the Te Putairiki executive has the discretion to accept non-Maori into the Te Puna Manawa tutorials56 on an individual basis.

Te Putairiki has demonstrated that the creation of “protective boundaries” mediates disadvantages that confront minority students in a monocultural environment (Hall et al., 1994:34). The benefits of minority group segregation, identified by Blossom, reinforce research by Jones (1999) and Rosens (1993) discussed earlier in this chapter, as well as other studies. For example, in the United States,Murrell (1997:27) found that group membership helped Black students offset the western values of

individualism, competitiveness, materialism and the “winner/loser” philosophy; Prebble et al. (2005:82) cite Szelenyi (2001) and Sanchez’s (2000) claim that minority student retention was enhanced when “different motivational, task engagement and learning strategies” were accommodated. In Aotearoa/New Zealand, Clarke (1998:67) maintains that for many Maori “their ability to survive psychologically, intellectually, culturally, spiritually…has been dependent often times on the support of their fellows around them.” Moreover, Te Putairiki’s accomplishments reinforce Bennett’s (2001) assertion that a university’s investment in facilities such as study rooms is justified by the benefits that accrue to Maori students (in Prebble et al., 2005:85).

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Te Puna Manawa is a Maori student tutorial programme, which is funded by SSG and managed by Student Services.

The boundaries established by Te Putairiki represent the exertion of horizontal power by an autonomous group in resistance to the hegemony of the centre, and the

acquiescence of the Law School to Maori students’ requests reinforces the potential of “relating across human difference as equals” to empower and create power (Hall et al., 1994:28). The expression of solidarity of Te Putairiki members demonstrates the potential of first, margins - as sites of resistance (hooks 1990; Smith L., 2004;

McIntosh, 2004) - to engender a sense of self-determination (Hall et al., 1994:34); and second, student agency to negate deficit arguments that characteristically disregard the capacity of marginalized groups to create support structures which foster academic excellence.

In document Barriers To Maori Student Success At The University Of Canterbury (Page 118-120)