• Taylor Terekia

How are Māori Uni students being impacted by COVID-19? Te Mana Ākonga conduct study to find out


On May 6, Te Mana Ākonga (TMA) released a survey to identify how Māori university students have been impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown.


Only half a week since its release the survey has received over 300 responses, which according to the Lead Researcher of the study and Pou Hauora for TMA Zaine Akuhata-Huntington is a “fantastic number of responses so far”.


Zaine is grateful to the students that have participated, “We have a real opportunity for change for tauira Māori here, and we want this change to be reflective of students' needs.” However, there are over 16,000 Māori University students and more participants are required “if we want this to be representative of everyone's voice.”


TMA had been working in partnership with NZUSA and Tauira Pasifika to provide the COVID-19 Student Support Survey, which then resulted in the National Student Action Plan on COVID-19. But this survey “wasn’t comprehensive enough for us” in terms of identifying the unique needs of Māori students, says TMA Co-Tumuaki Mamaeroa Merito.


TMA decided to then formulate their own study, which was approved by members of TMA on April 8. The survey was not yet completed at that stage, but the intent was on taking the necessary time to create a comprehensive survey, as Zaine notes “We had a clear direction of the things we wanted to measure, and carefully constructed it so that the questions and their answers painted a picture that gave us the data we wanted to know about.”


Gaining ethical approval from the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee was an important component for TMA as Mamaeroa shares “We recognise that the spaces we advocate in need data and information gathered in an ethical and credible way.”


Zaine emphasises that ethical approval is about protecting participants. “It holds [Te Mana Ākonga] accountable to ensuring the measures we take throughout are safe, well thought through and have had the proper considerations [such as] consultation with Māori students.”


He adds “It also gives us a good foundation for formalising results academically such as a research paper, which gives us a solid evidence base for future advocacy, the same way you cite something in your essay to strengthen an argument you are making.”


He also acknowledges the work of the many individual Māori student associations who undertook localised surveys on their own campuses. “We saw [the TMA survey] as a sort of 'Phase 2' where we can refine all the awesome data they had collected and use our results to target specific changes we would like to see.”


The survey closes at 11:30pm 20th of May, and there is no set date yet on when a research report will be available.


“Obviously given the circumstances our tauira are facing we want this to be out as soon as possible, but we also want it to be of quality and not jeopardize the stories and effort they have gifted us so I don't want to make any promises I can't keep” Zaine expresses.


Te Pararē will cover the progress of this study as well as the findings once available.


You can take the survey here.


Mō te kaituhi:

Taylor Terekia | Te Aitanga-ā-Māhaki / Ngāti Porou / Kāi Tahu

Editor


Te Mana Ākonga