Bicultural project initiates change in scholarship programme

07 December 2022 | News

Alice Docking may have just finished the final year of her Future Leader Scholarship, but she will leave a meaningful legacy through her project that looks at the programme's bicultural perspectives.

She has just completed a Bachelor of Environmental Management and will begin a Master of Planning in 2023.

As part of the Future Leader programme, third year scholars lead a project to initiate change in an area that they are passionate about. With support from her project team and project mentor, Senior Lecturer Dy Jolly, Alice initiated the project, "Enhancing Cultural and Te Tiriti Competency within the 2022 Future Leader Cohort". 

This involved assessing and developing her fellow scholars' cultural competency, their knowledge of the Treaty of Waitangi and its relevance, their understanding of the significance of engaging and working alongside tāngata whenua, and how this may influence their future work.

The project fed into a wider review of the Future Leader programme to ensure graduates would be able to lead in a bicultural environment, which aligns with Lincoln University’s strategic goal to promote biculturalism on campus, and is part of providing a distinctive Aotearoa New Zealand end-to-end student experience.

Alice also wanted to develop a cultural competency resource for the future and increase te ao Māori thinking and tikanga Māori within the scholars’ weekly Future Leader hui.

"I believed the project would be a strong platform to enhance the bicultural lens of the Future Leader scholars and allow for genuine leadership and competency development in diverse cultural environments," Alice said.

Through her work, she found that 60% of scholars lacked confidence within a treaty space.

"My project team and I developed and delivered several workshops exploring the role of culture and personal experience with environmental connection," she said.

"Throughout the year, we have been exploring te ao Māori values, such as tūrangawaewae (place of belonging) and developing an understanding of the relationship and significance of mana whenua, Ngāi ki Ruahikihiki ki Taumutu to Lincoln University.

"I recognise, as a Pākeha New Zealander, it is not my place to teach te ao Māori, but to engage following Māori tikanga in a way that is reflective of my place as tangata Tiriti, or a person of the Treaty." 

While developing the concept, Alice had been in contact with Te Manutaki (the Lincoln University Māori and Pacifica Team) and Te Awhioraki (the Māori students association on campus) to ensure a collaborative and appropriate process when designing cultural competency assessments and workshop structures.

"There is a whakataukī, a Māori saying I have regularly drawn on over my time on this scholarship. Titiro whakamuri, kōkiri whakamua. When you understand your past, you know your future. This whakataukī encourages reflection, it recognises who makes up your identity and explores the experiences and places that have contributed to who you are today."

Alice said that globally, society is in a period of significant change, and "with that comes some significant challenges".

"There is a need to reflect on where we have come to determine where we are going. This also means exploring different frameworks and systems. There is a need to think critically and initiate that difficult conversation, because if we don’t, then who will.

"As young leaders under a treaty partnership, it is crucial to understand the obligations we hold to engage with and enact the treaty. As a land-based institution, these obligations and their significance are critical to uphold within future working environments. Furthermore, cultural competency is key for successful leadership. 

"Targeting the Future Leader scholars may further impact on the wider campus environment. Future Leader scholars make up a large percentage of executive members for a variety of clubs and committees on campus," she said.

Recommendations from the project have contributed towards the enhancement of the Future Leader Scholarship programme. Alice's project group developed an "Amazing Race" activity with a competitive hīkoi around campus to find points of bicultural interest and significance, which will be part of the Future Leader first year orientation event in the future. 


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