Tauira: Māori Methods of Learning and Teaching

Joan Metge

In te reo Māori, ‘tauira’ means both student and teacher. In the book Tauira, acclaimed educator and anthropologist Joan Metge introduces readers to Māori methods of teaching and learning that are rich in lessons for us all.


Based on extensive interviews, this book offers a window on a mid-twentieth-century rural Māori world as described by those who grew up there. Metge’s work tackles important questions about Māori teaching and learning of this period: What was the role of whānau and hapū, household and marae, kaumatua and siblings, work and play? How much learning was practical and how much by teaching?


Metge shows that Māori ways of learning flourished alongside the school system – especially in rural Northland, the Bay of Plenty and on the East Cape – and that those educational practices had a particular form and philosophy. Māori focused on learning by doing, teaching in context, learning in a group, memorising, and advancement when ready. Parents, grandparents and community leaders imparted cultural knowledge as well as practical skills to the younger generation through daily life and storytelling, in whānau and community activities. In preserving this evidence and these voices from the past, this important book also offers much inspiration for the future.


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Dame Joan Metge was born in 1930. A trained anthropologist, she is particularly famous for her outstanding promotion of cross-cultural awareness. She has published significant books and articles on cross-cultural communication, including Talking Past Each Other (1978/1984) and Kōrero Tahi (AUP, 2001), and on Māori history and society. She was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand’s inaugural Te Rangi Hiroa Medal in 1997 for her outstanding scientific research in the social sciences and, in 2006, won the third Asia-Pacific Mediation Forum Peace Prize, previously won by José Ramos-Horta. Her most recent book is Tuamaka: The Challenge of Difference in Aotearoa New Zealand (AUP, 2010).

June 2015, 210 x 148 mm, 320 pages
Paperback, ISBN 978 186940 822 0, $45