The usage of traditional Maori narratives as cognitive models and educational tools : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Social Anthropology at Massey University, Albany Campus, New Zealand
The present research consists of an interdisciplinary approach which combines
mainly sub-disciplines from the anthropological and psychological perspectives as
theoretical background. Regarding the latter, from the cognitive anthropology
perspective the research highlights Bradd Shore’s (1996) view on cognitive models,
together with the theories put forward by the sociocultural approach in psychology
based on Vygotsky’s school of thought.
The main objective of the study is to achieve a broad view on the use of
traditional korero paki and korero o nehera (Maori folktales/legends and myths) as
pedagogical tools and as cognitive models. The latter includes a bibliographical review
which covers the analysis of narratives and their usage from different areas, such as
Maori epistemology and education, cultural psychology and cognitive anthropology.
Being a research stemmed from an anthropological concern –how do people
from different sociocultural backgrounds construct and transmit knowledge- it
considered as a fundamental element an empirical or “fieldwork” approach to the
matter. Therefore, the research analyses –based on semi-structured interviews- the
perspectives and understanding of the usage of traditional Maori narratives as
educational tools of scholars in the Maori studies/education field and of a sample of
Maori teachers, most of them connected to a Kura Kaupapa Maori school, constituting
a “study case” for this qualitative study.
A period of complementary participant observation was also carried out,
focusing on the pedagogical practises and styles of the participant teachers. Through
this, the research aims to contextualise the bibliographical and theoretical findings,
considering the contemporary applications, limitations and understandings encountered
through concrete experience.