This article introduces He Vaka Moana, which has been tested and evaluated at international and local levels. He Vaka Moana is a strength-based model of academic fellowship that is framed by Oceanic principles and methodologies. The authors base this model on what connects and sustains us as Māori and Pasifika people—that is, Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa.
We draw from our shared ancestral history of navigating the vast Pacific Ocean on purposefully built vessels using Indigenous methods and ways of being to successfully reach our destinations. Our fellowship draws on the rich knowledge and imagery of a Tongan saying “pikipiki hama kae vave manava”, which refers to lashing canoes together to exchange people and resources when a fleet is out on the ocean battling the swells and weather. This evocative Oceanic metaphor guides how, in He Vaka Moana, champions of teaching and learning across faculties purposefully come together to work collaboratively to examine existing practice and develop innovative ways for addressing issues of strategic priority to the institution: Māori and Pasifika students’ success. In He Vaka Moana, we look specifically and politically at ways to advance the success of Māori and Pasifika students in higher education, exploring what works; how success is defined and by whom; how, as a university, we listen (or fail to listen) to Indigenous stories; and the difference Oceanic-based research makes for our teaching and learning. Our agenda is revitalising Indigenous methodologies and knowledges to transform higher educational institutions’ ways of responding to our Indigenous learners. Employing our own Indigenous methodologies has emphasised our cultural ways of being, thinking, speaking and behaving. We wish to demonstrate how our ways of being and knowledge allow us to reclaim who we are and, more importantly, to chart our collective and desired future as citizens of Oceania.