5 October 2022 at 3:44 pm

PIF Recipient: Tokona te Raki

Reimagining international education, or rather, the future of learning in a global context, is no easy task, but that’s what social innovation think- and do-tank, Tokona te Raki, has set out to do. 

Tokona logo 16x9

Tokona te Raki has already led some brave pioneering work, such as challenging streaming in schools based on evidence it has a largely negative impact on Māori students, more often perpetuating inequity, rather than reducing it. They are working on indigenous youth pathways into digital futures, understanding future tribal skill needs and honing tribal innovation models. 

With global challenges like climate change, shifting population demographics and the impact of technology all combining to create both uncertainty and opportunity, the future is there for the taking – or rather the shaping. 

Tokona te Raki is an indigenous social innovation lab operating under the mana of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. With over 76,000 registered tribal members and a territory covering over 80 percent of New Zealand’s South Island /Te Waipounamu, Ngāi Tahu is the largest iwi / tribe in Te Waipounamu. 

With Māori youth being the fastest growing sector of the Aotearoa New Zealand population, Tokona te Raki is on a mission to tackle inequities they face in their journey through education and into enterprise and employment. Through projects with whānau, communities, and external partners, rangatahi are equipped and empowered with the tools and support to shape and be inspired by their futures, succeeding as Māori.  

Their latest project is an ambitious one: to reimagine international education. With support from Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao (ENZ) as a Tiriti partner, through the International Education Product Innovation Fund, this vision to reshape indigenous education is moving closer over the horizon with a view towards a future where youth are confident, competent, and connected both tribally and globally. 

‘Indigenous Future Making’ is a pilot project to reimagine the future of international education towards an indigenous vision of a tribal and global learning network. Te Ao Māori (the Māori world) and its knowledge systems create an identity unique to Aotearoa and sees the future as an opportunity rather than an inevitability. 

To frame the project, Tokona te Raki has identified several ‘shifts’ that transform what international education can deliver for indigenous communities and learners. From colonial and Euro-centric to diverse, indigenous, and global; from physical, site-based delivery to place based and virtual delivery; from fixed-duration courses to lifelong learning; from rational (IQ) intelligence to emotional, cultural, and digital intelligence; and from narrow credentialling to flexible and adaptive credentialling. 

Instead of framing international education through an economic lens and thinking of international learners in terms of revenue extraction, the pilot project imagines values-based value generation, a reciprocal, two-way street of learners travelling both into and out of Aotearoa New Zealand, education contributing to global challenges and collective action, and Aotearoa New Zealand being recognised for its unique value proposition: a caring, safe, secure, innovative and culturally relevant education provider. 

The project will deliver an indigenous future-making framework, backed up with a toolkit and a curriculum. An online platform will be explored to serve as an indigenous knowledge exchange, facilitating the transfer of knowledge between and within Māori and other indigenous cultures. 

Tokona Te Raki is among a range of pilot projects supported by ENZ’s Covid Response and Recovery Fund funded product and service diversification workstream. This New Zealand Government-funded initiative to encourages the development of new products and services in the international education sector.  

The project explores how Aotearoa New Zealand can offer indigenous solutions to global challenges, such as climate change and social inequality. More than a funding contributor, ENZ is working with Tokona te Raki to explore what being a good Tiriti partnership should look like to best support and realise the full potential of an Iwi led project, leveraging each other’s networks and capabilities. The learnings from Indigenous Future Making, and the other pilots, will be shared for the benefit of Aotearoa New Zealand’s wider international education sector, encouraging other education providers and organisations to keep innovating for the future. 

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