This research explored literacy with bilingual four-year-old children attending a dual language (te reo Māori and English) early childhood centre in Ōtautahi Christchurch. More specifically, it sought to determine the efficacy of a home-based literacy intervention, which used traditional Māori pedagogy and practices, in supporting Māori children’s emerging literacy skills. It focused on two key sets of cognitive skills – phonological awareness, and aspects of oral language, including vocabulary knowledge, and story comprehension and retell skills. The researcher worked with eight whānau, and explored the influence of the home literacy environment on children’s literacy acquisition, as well as the effects of the intervention on both the home literacy environment, and the aforementioned cognitive skills. The findings from the various series of data reported in this thesis, interpreted through statistical and sociocultural lenses, indicate that the intervention trialled in this work was effective in creating shifts in whānau literacy practices, attitudes, and the home literacy environment in general. Furthermore, the intervention had a substantial effect on the phonological awareness skills, and aspects of oral language proficiency, of the children participating in this study.
Melissa Derby (Ngāti Ranginui) is a UC doctoral student whose thesis contributed to the Literacy strand of A Better Start: E Tipu e Rea National Science Challenge. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University of Wellington and a Master of Arts in Māori Development from AUT University. Her MA was awarded with First Class Honours, and her thesis made the Dean’s List of Exceptional Theses. She also has a Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Studies from Columbia University in New York. Melissa holds the Brownlie scholarship, which is awarded to the highest ranked doctoral scholar across the University. She has received numerous academic awards, including the SAGE Publishing Young Writer’s Award and the Royal Commonwealth Society Award. Melissa has a particular interest in advancing Māori education, Māori identity, the human rights discourse, and the global revitalisation of Indigenous epistemologies.
Melissa had her examination in 2019, and has since been awarded her doctorate.