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Partnership drives Kaupapa Māori Storybook Dads

10 March 2011

Storybook Dads Kaupapa Māori, a new programme offered alongside the Methodist Mission's existing Storybook Dads programme at Otago Corrections Facility, is the outcome of a three-way partnership that now includes A3 Kaitiaki Ltd, a subsidiary company of Te Runanga o Otakou.

Conversations about this new model started back in 2009 because a growing number of men in the Storybook Dads programme were selecting stories with Māori content, and including aspects of Māori culture in messages they sent home.

John Crawford-Smith, Section Manager, The Methodist Mission – Approach Community Learning, says the organisation realised its limitations in being able to develop Te Ao Māori (Māori world and thinking) and meetings began with Michelle Taiaroa-McDonald of A3 Kaitiaki Ltd.

In discussions with Dorothy Crofts, Programmes Manager, Prisons in the Southern Region, a te reo Māori version of Storybook Dads began to take shape.

Collaborative working process

A collaborative working process means that the Methodist Mission provides its intellectual and technical knowledge: how the programme runs, its management of sound, the art production and its resources. A3 Kaitiaki brings its expertise in Te Ao Māori.

“We maintain the facilitation process so that A3 Kaitiaki is free to do what they do best,” John says.
 
“We started developing the Storybook Dads Kaupapa Māori model with A3 Kaitiaki at the end of February 2010 and by September that year, the programme was being trialled with 12 men for a period of six weeks.”

Moana Wesley, Kaupapa Māori facilitator, said that most of the men had already participated in the Storybook Dads programme.

“However, the Kaupapa Māori programme gave them another, more natural way of connecting with their tamariki,” she says. “Even those with limited te reo skills welcomed the opportunity to share the stories and the language of their ancestors with their tamariki.”

Among the feedback from the programme, one prisoner said that the challenge of te reo was a particular strength of the programme, as it made him think about what he owes his ancestors and his tamariki.
Another prisoner said that because his children are fluent in te reo, this was a chance to show them that he is learning too.
Use of the words “kaupapa Māori” in the programme’s name ensures the focus of Te Ao Māori. Within that, the provision of te reo Māori is met at the level required by participants.
One Kaupapa Māori programme will run each year, aligning with the Māori new year, Matariki. It will be held in the whare at Otago Corrections Facility with an evaluation and celebration with whānau two weeks after the completion of the programme.

Programme research

The Methodist Mission, in association with Otago Polytechnic and A3 Kaitiaki, is seeking approval from Corrections for research of both Storybook Dad models. The research, funded by Ako Aotearoa, will evaluate the Storybook Dads programmes in terms of enhancing male prisoners' literacy skills within the short time involved (20 hours); maintaining or initiating communication with their children; and strengthening family or whānau relationships while the men are in prison.

For the Methodist Mission, the programmes meet a need to connect with prisoners, families and whānau in communities.

“That part of our work is vital,” John says. “So many people need to be reconnected in our communities.”

The Kaupapa Māori Storybook Dads initiative kindles a long relationship between the Methodist Church and Te Runanga o Otakou, which predates the Treaty of Waitangi.

“We value the relationship and are proud of it,” John says. “We believe we are going forward together. There are challenges and we’ll play our part. It is a relationship of respect and we are committed partners.”

 
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