World first kaupapa Māori minor in psychology

30 June 2022

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai, Dr Mohi Rua, Associate Professor Bridgette Masters-Awatere at the launch

The first Kaupapa Māori minor in psychology offered in Aotearoa welcomes students next semester at the University of Waikato.

Head of Psychology, Professor Vincent Reid, says it will provide students with the opportunity to engage with a Kaupapa Māori perspective at the beginning of their careers.

“While there are psychologists who have this approach, and who implement Kaupapa Māori interventions, there’s nothing systematic related to training they receive at university.

“By offering the qualification as a minor, we’re providing tomorrow’s psychologists with a head start on that way of thinking and engaging with mental health issues.”

A Kaupapa Māori psychology approach is underpinned by Māori philosophies which ties into how Māori and indigenous peoples engage with psychology.

“The minor recognises that everyone has a different lens, a different way of thinking about that person and the issues they’re facing, and will find multiple options for solutions,” says Vincent. “That’s quite powerful.

Head of School of Psychology, Professor Vincent Reid

“In terms of mental health, Māori are over represented in almost any negative statistic that you can think about. The kaupapa Māori minor is designed to try and ameliorate that in some way but also to speak to those people and give them pathways so that you have better efficacy for interventions and better outcomes.”

The programme has been developed by Associate Professor Bridgette Masters-Awatere (Te Rarawa, Ngāi te Rangi, Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau) whose research includes consideration of a collective experience, engaging multiple voices from whānau, hapū, iwi, agency, and community. Bridgette says the centering of Māori cultural knowledge and context in psychological training is long overdue.

“The minor reflects the University’s motto Ko Te Tangata (for the people) and through Vision Mātauranga we are able to raise the standard of training offered to our students.There is a growing momentum towards learning Māori culture and language. For example, we’re about to celebrate Matariki, our first national holiday that recognises te Ao Māori. New Zealand is ready for this change.”

Associate Professor Bridgette Masters-Awatere (Te Rarawa, Ngāi te Rangi, Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau)

Vincent says the results of using a Kaupapa Māori approach in the prison system supports the idea that it will have better outcomes in a wider context.

“People who engage in a kaupapa Māori approach then start thinking about a Māori world view and a Māori way of thinking. They may become more connected with a marae or  their wider whānau support network than beforehand. This by itself can lead to better mental health outcomes”

Vincent says the proof of the approach is very much in the pudding.

“Look at the metrics, look at the efficacy, look at the outcomes. This is an incredibly effective way of dealing with mental health.”

The psychology minor in kaupapa Māori will have its first intake in B Trimester 2022.

This research aligns with the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

Quality Education Reduced Inequalities Partnerships for the goals

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