Lisa Watson's Doctorate

A big congratulations to Lisa Watson, our Kaiwhakaruruhau (facilitator) based in Tai Tokerau, who has recently finished all the requirements for her EdD and successfully submitted her doctoral research with the University of Auckland. Her doctorate is called ‘Kia Tū Māia. A social-ecological approach to nurturing academic resilience for Māori student success.’

Lisa researched the factors of academic resilience that support Māori student success as Māori. There has been a huge uptake of the resilience kaupapa in schools, however, from her research, it has been from a very English medium approach. There are lots of overseas classroom resources and posters that teach our students about resilience, but Māori voice, images, pūrākau were certainly missing from this space. Her study focussed on the strengths of Māori students to develop their resilience.

Lisa asked high achieving, senior Māori students what were the greatest barriers/challenges (risk factors) they experienced in their pursuit of school success and what were the strengths/things that helped them to overcome the barriers to stay at school, maintain motivation and be successful while also being proud to be Māori. She used photo voice as a research method where the students brought along photos of the things, they felt helped them to be successful.  

Lisa says “The photos were amazing!! Such a powerful research method. Māori student views of how they develop their resilience for school success was very much about their environments (schools, whānau, te Ao Māori) and not an individual trait/process that some Western research has claimed. The barriers Māori students faced - we know too well in our work.  Racism, low expectation teachers, negative Māori stereotypes, poor relationships with teachers, lack of culturally responsive curriculum, pedagogy, and school environments.  

The key resources they turned to when developing their resilience included: resistance (big time), a strong sense of identity, strong connections to te reo and te āo Māori, high expectation teachers, self-determination, their desire to give back to their whānau, to be the first in their whānau to go to university, to be a role model to other Māori rangatahi and racial socialisation - their parents and grandparents prepared them to confront the many forms of racism they encountered.”

For her original contribution to resilience research, she created a framework which explains the ways that different social-ecological environments nurture resilience for Māori students e.g. whānau and schools.  Lisa also created a model for the development of academic resilience from a kaupapa Māori worldview, called, ‘Kia Tū Māia’ - ‘To stand and be resilient’. 

Lisa says she is going to be using this model with her work in schools to give teachers and school leaders a Māori cultural view of resilience for school success. Her graduation won’t be until next year and she will graduate in Whāngarei at the Tai Tokerau campus.