Māori knowledge and traditions woven into PhD

10 December 2021

The importance of emotions in adult learning should not be underestimated, according to an exceptional new Doctor of Education.

  • Dr Kiri Solomon

Aucklander Kiri Solomon (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa) has immense passion for her work, fostering the emotional literacy of her adult students and has just completed her PhD at the University of Canterbury (UC).

Kiri was first attracted to enrol at UC by a Summer School course on Understanding Emotions in Education. Achieving an A+, she decided to explore this topic further for her doctorate. She won a UC Matariki Doctoral Scholarship and began her PhD in 2018.

Her research was based on a journey of developing an Emotional Literacy (EL) programme for Adult Learners in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Emotional Literacy has been linked to increases in social skills, employment outcomes and overall wellbeing, however access to relevant courses is costly, and often programmes are more generic and based in an employment context,” Kiri says.

“We also wanted to highlight how Mātauranga Māori was able to support this kaupapa and with help from Kaumātua Rereata Makiha (Ngai Tuteauru, Te Mahurehure, Ngāti Pākau, Te Aupouri, Te Arawa) we were able to thread concepts from Te Maramataka (the Māori Lunar Calendar) throughout both our research generally and within the EL programme specifically that we developed alongside our Research Whānau.” 

Examiners said her PhD thesis broke new ground in content and methodology as it melded western theories of emotional literacy with indigenous mātauranga, based on the maramataka Māori, and made an important contribution to the field.

“Our programme can be adjusted to cater to pretty much any target group,” Kiri says. “And we are keen to showcase how we can do this in a way which reflects an Aotearoa context. People who are more emotionally literate have increased wellbeing outcomes and we think everyone deserves to have access to this knowledge.”

Kiri’s collaborative research methodology also impressed her thesis supervisors, UC Education academics Dr Veronica O’Toole and Dr Matiu Ratima.

Coming full circle, her first role as Dr Solomon will be to co-lecture, with Dr O’Toole, on a postgraduate course, Understanding Emotions in Education, Leadership and Health, in UC’s 2021/2022 Summer School. “This is a really nice way to round off my journey,” she says.

Media contact:

  • Email: media@canterbury.ac.nz Ph: (03) 369 3631 or 027 503 0168
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