ABSTRACT. In 2019, the Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland launched a programme called Ako Arts, aimed at embedding Māori and Pasifika epistemologies and knowledges into our curriculum and approaches to teaching. This initiative was developed by Dr Hirini Kaa and piloted by eight courses in its first year. I took part in this pilot as convenor of a large stage one Drama course. This interview focuses on the motivation and meanings of the programme, with a particular emphasis on one of its key values, manaakitanga, defined in the Māori dictionary as ‘hospitality, kindness, generosity, support – the process of showing respect, generosity and care for others.’ In my conversation with Hirini, I was interested in how he viewed the notion of kindness from a Māori perspective and in both the possibilities and limitations of the term in the pedagogical context. Early in the Agencies of Kindness research project, we held a symposium exploring kindness in pedagogy and creativity and invited Hirini to speak about Ako Arts. At that time, he noted that while he didn’t really know what kindness meant in the University context, he knew what manaakitanga meant. The comment was an important provocation for the group to recognise the cultural specificity of ‘kindness’ as a concept and the importance of broadening our engagement with kindness to include other cultural concepts. The dialogue, I hope, provides some insight into the intersection of the broad notion of kindness with Indigenous knowledge, Māori knowledge, in particular.

Keywords: culturally-sustaining pedagogy; Indigenous students; matauranga Māori; manaakitanga; ako

How to cite: Kaa, H., and Willis, E. (2021). “Teaching the Totality of a Person: Manaakitanga, Kindness and Pedagogy: An Interview with Dr Hirini Kaa,” Knowledge Cultures 9(3): 158–168. doi: 10.22381/kc9320219.

Received 13 September 2021 • Received in revised form 19 November 2021
Accepted 21 November 2021 • Available online 1 December 2021

Hirini Kaa
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Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa, Aotearoa New Zealand
Emma Willis
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University of Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand

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