Successful pathways for ākonga Māori and whānau

Issue: Volume 101, Number 2

Posted: 23 February 2022
Reference #: 1HASpw

Te Kura Huanui: Ko ngā kura o ngā ara angitū (the treasures of successful pathways) is a comprehensive account of the Māori education pathway, capturing good practice and the characteristics of educational success for ākonga Māori, as well as the role of whānau, hapū and iwi throughout the learning journey.

Te Kura Huanui shows that Māori-medium education provides nurturing learning environments with excellent outcomes for ākonga Māori.

Te Kura Huanui shows that Māori-medium education provides nurturing learning environments with excellent outcomes for ākonga Māori.

Te Kura Huanui is the outcome of a collaborative research project between peak bodies – Te Rūnanga Nui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori, Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust – individual te reo Māori education settings, the Education Review Office (ERO) and Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga Ministry of Education.

The mahi began in 2018 when the Ministry entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ERO to undertake research to capture dimensions of success as they occur within te reo Māori education settings.

In 2019, ERO began its work in partnership with peak bodies on the co-designed, multimedia research project.

The co-designed project involved face-to-face interviews, observations, and film footage of early founders, kaumātua, kura, raukura and manu pīrere (graduates), kaiako, kaimahi, tumuaki, whānau, hapū and iwi. Research was conducted by Māori, for Māori, with Māori and in te reo Māori whenever possible.

A taonga for the sector

The resulting report and videos offer Aotearoa’s first comprehensive overview of education settings where te reo Māori and tikanga Māori is foundational. It is considered a taonga for the education sector, capturing best practice to empower ākonga Māori to truly thrive in any learning environment and highlighting the importance of whānau, hapū and iwi as experts and key decision-makers in the learning journey.

Te Kura Huanui also provides direct evidence to help balance the deficit narrative commonly used when referring to the outcomes of Māori learners in the education system.

As well as outlining the legislative and historical events that served as key milestones and drivers for te reo Māori education, Te Kura Huanui details the five common conditions that are vital for delivering education for ākonga Māori to enjoy success: 

  • Mana Māori Motuhake | Being Māori 
    Underpinning cultural aspects of being Māori and living as Māori. Mana Māori Motuhake is the expression of ancestral relationships to Mana Atua, Mana Whenua, Mana Reo and authentic identity as Māori.
  • Tikanga Māori 
    Giving expression to being Māori and living as Māori. Tikanga Māori gives essential information about how and why kura, including whānau, operate and function as they do.
  • Whanaungatanga 
    Acknowledging close and diverse relationships. Whanaungatanga expresses the reciprocal connections between kura, whānau, kaumātua, hapū, iwi and wider communities.
  • Ako | Teaching and Learning 
    Kaiako and kaimahi create close relationships with learners where whanaungatanga provides a sense of belonging and a safe, nurturing learning environment.
  • Leaders as visionaries 
    Leadership is effective, strategic, aspirational, inspirational, and innovative, and leaders encourage these characteristics among staff.

At its launch, Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti said, “We share the vision of an inclusive education system where every child feels a sense of belonging, where their identity, language and culture are celebrated, where they are engaged – and making real progress.”

She added that educators know they must take a broader view of success and put children’s wellbeing at the heart of their efforts.

“I know that releasing this report will be a proud moment for everyone who has contributed to it – the tumuaki, kaiako, raukura and manu pīrere, Te Uepū ā-Motu and Te Pou Mataaho, and all the whānau. I will join them in remembering it for a long time to come.”

Te Kura Huanui: Ko ngā kura o ngā ara angitū  spans across kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa Māori and finds that Māori-centred education emphasises learner success.

Te Kura Huanui: Ko ngā kura o ngā ara angitū spans across kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa Māori and finds that Māori-centred education emphasises learner success.

Ako: teaching and learning

The role of teaching and learning itself is identified as a key condition across Māori-medium education, reinforcing the importance of kaiako, kaimahi and whānau in supporting learner success.

The report says, Māori-centred education emphasises learner success and a wider focus on the emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual wellbeing. This approach to teaching and learning is modelled and upheld across te reo Māori education pathways, and there is a commitment and belief that each learner is a taonga and as such they need to be nurtured and their uniqueness fostered.

“The main goals are for all children to achieve excellence, secondly, to hold fast the sacred knowledge and values passed down to them. The heart is the biggest thing, the power of the heart is much more significant than the mind,” said Michelle Ohia, kaiako at Ngā Taiātea Wharekura.

The report also acknowledges kaiako and kaimahi actively undertaking professional development for effective teaching and learning strategies. This includes knowledge of Māori and iwi-based narratives that guide teaching.

For example, some kura may use Kīngitanga to teach learners of their historical and genealogical connections with others so that they understand and value those relationships.

“For us, excellence is strength in the language, in the customs, in the protocols. They are adept at managing meetings and being hospitable to people on the marae. We’re able to call into the marae when there’s meetings involving the iwi, the marae people will contact us and some of our students will be sent to the marae to help with the work of the kitchen, the singing, the lamenting, because our youth have excellent memories and have memorised all the laments,” said Henarata Ham, tumuaki at Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngāti Porou.

Experiential learning environments founded in te reo Māori are also highlighted as transformational experiences for learners.

Learning spaces include marae, iwi kaupapa (Koroneihana), Manu Kōrero, kura reo, wānanga, and kapa haka. These provide meaningful contexts where te reo Māori is embedded and self-identity, self-value, and self-confidence is affirmed allowing tauira to give full expression to te reo Māori, in te reo Māori. These environments develop confidence in learners to actively connect to their wider communities.

“Firstly, we must learn to look at the world around us, the benefits of our world, its biggest and its greatest, which is the power of the gods passed down to us, the power of the people and the land and the ocean. Teaching these things to the children enables them to stand proud as Māori, to stand proud as Ngāti Porou, so the whānau can stand proud and be proud of the homeland,” said Campbell Dewes, tumuaki of Kawakawa Mai Tawhiti.

Te Kura Huanui

Whānau as experts and active supporters

The report highlights how whānau and the wider community support Māori-medium education provision and contribute to learning.

Whānau are knowledge experts and support the kura in terms of curriculum development/delivery. They are key repositories of knowledge and share freely with the kura. Whānau are key drivers of the revitalisation of te reo Māori, tikanga Māori, and mātauranga Māori.

“The whānau is committed to transforming the educational experience into a Māori pathway toward achievement, success and good character. A key principle is that the children will be happy in their learning. We wholeheartedly accept the aho matua responsibility to nurture each child’s spiritual development,” said whānau at Raukura.

In conclusion

Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga, featured in  Education Gazette, 100.1 last year.

Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga, featured in Education Gazette, 100.1 last year.

Te Kura Huanui ultimately finds that te reo Māori education settings and Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust, Te Rūnanga Nui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori and Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa collectively, provide models of excellence for full pathways in Māori education, as well as offering exemplars for supporting Māori learners to enjoy and achieve education success as Māori.

“This study clearly shows that Māori-medium education provides nurturing learning environments with excellent outcomes for Māori learners,” said ERO in their conclusion.

The full report in both English and te reo Māori can be found on the ERO website(external link).  

Education Gazette has explored powerful mahi from across the motu where ākonga and whānau are achieving success ‘as Māori’.

Read some of our recent articles

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 12:50 PM, 23 February 2022

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