Waikato Journal of Education

How to Cite

Dunn, S., & Locke, M. (2022). Mātauranga Māori, inquiry and creative music-making in the primary music classroom: A Pākehā teacher’s journey. Teachers and Curriculum, 22(2), 99–112. https://doi.org/10.15663/tandc.v22i2.399


This article draws on a master’s study into programme decisions and processes of a Pākehā primary music teacher who sought to include mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge), tikanga Māori (Māori practices) and te ao Māori (a Māori way of seeing the world) in their teaching practice. The study investigated how children are enabled to experience mātauranga Māori within an inquiry approach to teaching and learning, through engagement with taonga pūoro (singing treasures) and the whakataukī (proverb) of the whakapapa (genealogy) of Māori music as stimuli for creative music-making. Drawing on action research and self-study, I conducted an intervention of eight music lessons with 28 children from Years 3 and 4. Findings emerged from an analysis of student questionnaires, my teacher journal, student reflections, and scores and audio recordings of students’ creative music-making.
In this article I focus specifically on two aspects of my findings:
1. The way that the teacher-as-learner position within inquiry pedagogy complements the ethos of ako (reciprocal learning), and the way a holistic, integrated learning approach is supported by the centrality of interconnection within te ao Māori.
2. The process by which a teacher might use the whakapapa of Māori music as a conceptual framework for inspiring a sound palette of the natural world in children and for scaffolding creative music-making.
As a teacher I found that I could establish whanaungatanga (a family-like connection) in the primary music classroom through a relational pedagogy and valuing the children’s individuality through collaborative processes. This small study reinforced my belief that teachers need to take responsibility for their bicultural practices in the classroom, that a complementary ethos of inquiry and Māori approaches to teaching and learning can be fostered, that inquiry pedagogy can be effective in music education, and that practical approaches for experiencing Māori knowledge, inspired by Māori music, can flourish in the primary music classroom.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.