Waikato academic to teach Māori and performing arts in Hawai’i

12 July 2012

Dr Raukura Roa

Hawai’i Calling: Dr Te Raukura Roa has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence to teach te reo Māori and Māori performing arts at the University of Hawai’i in Mānoa, Honolulu.

A University of Waikato Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Dr Te Raukura Roa has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence to spend a year teaching at the University of Hawai’i in Mānoa, Honolulu. The Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence award assists US higher education institutions to expand programmes of academic exchange.


At Waikato, Dr Roa (Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Haua) teaches Māori language and Māori performing arts in the School of Māori and Pacific Development and in Hawai’i she’ll teach language proficiency courses at first and second year level and also offer a course on performing arts and traditional song poetry. Her PhD was in traditional Māori chants.

“They have quite a strong Māori programme at the University of Hawai’i,” says Roa. “It’s been slowly building under the guidance of New Zealander Dr Mary Boyce and Waikato’s relationship with the university has been gaining momentum too with a number of students studying here.”

Language Connections

“Māori and Hawai’ian are similar languages and I’m keen to learn Hawai’ian while I’m there. I’d also like to do a comparative study between our dance and theirs. They’re a lot more gentle in their music and movement than we are. They move differently; Māori are a lot louder and aggressive and I’m curious to know how that’s evolved if we had the same origins.

Roa uses Kaupapa Māori methods of teaching, and includes communicative language teaching – learning in context. It’s something Hawai’ian Kaeo NeSmith has adopted since studying his PhD at Waikato. “As a result of my PhD research I’ve dramatically revamped my teaching approach, using communicative language teaching and integrating Hawai’ian culture norms into the basis of my teaching. My students have noticed how effective the communicative approach can be.”

She will be in the same office as Kaeo NeSmith when she’s at the University of Hawai’i, but Roa also plans to travel to other islands to extend her interactions with Hawai’ian communities.

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