Calls for Kapa Haka to become University Entrance subject

By Talisa Kupenga

Ngā Puna o Waiōrea Principal Chris Selwyn is calling for Māori Performing Arts (MPA) to be recognised at the same level as University Entrance (UE) subjects. He says mainstream UE subjects include drama, music and dance, which are encompassed in Māori Performing Arts, so it should have equal status.

It features singing, dancing and drama. But MPA does not meet the criteria of a UE subject.

Selwyn says, "Even though performers make it to regional and national level competitions through Māori Performing Arts, the credits they get [at school] aren't eligible for UE." 

MPA is assessed through competency-based unit standards. UE approved subjects are assessed through New Zealand curriculum-based achievement standards. Although unit standards can contribute to UE, NZQA says subjects on the UE approved list must be subjects derived from the New Zealand Curriculum; with achievement standards at Level 3, criteria MPA currently does not meet.

Selwyn says, "But if you do mainstream subjects for dance, and music and drama those credits get you UE - Why? What's the difference? How come all these subjects aren't accredited the same so our kids can also gain UE?”

NZQA says in order for MPA to be considered for addition to the approved subject list, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has to determine it's a subject with learning outcomes based on the curriculum, then develop a suite of achievement standards. Following which, and after receipt of a formal request for its addition, NZQA would consult with universities (as required by legislation) on adding the subject.

Selwyn says, "I think this would make it more accessible for students to get access to university."

MOE says the increase of MPA opportunities in schools is a "really positive development" and "one that it supports". But it was not aware of an application to consider a change in how MPA qualifications are treated, and if it received one it would work with all parties involved to consider it.