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Promoting contexts for change where equity, excellence and belonging can be realised.

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Challenge and Change

Posted on 12 September, 2023

Te Tiriti: What is our agency?

Prof. Mere Berryman recently gave a keynote address and ran a master class during the New Zealand Area Schools Association Conference in Rotorua.

Responding to the theme of the conference ‘Challenge and Change’, Mere spoke of how deeply entrenched racial prejudices promoted internationally, prior to colonial settlement in Aotearoa, continue to cause division throughout our society. The equitable contexts for living and learning that successive governments have sought to promote have not eventuated.

The disparity in education outcomes remains evident with rangatahi Māori having disproportionately heightened rates of suspension and expulsion. Half of those receiving early leaving exemptions identify as Māori, as do 7 out of 10 of those in Alternative Education settings.

While the challenge is recognised, the root causes of this situation, and how to change it, are less well understood. The compounding intergenerational debt owed to those denied equity of access to education requires sustained transformative action.

Why, asks Mere Berryman, is a society inclined to believe it exemplifies progressive values apparently lacking in a collective response to the issues?

"To understand the genesis of our systemic failure, we have to know our history and many of us have been poorly served in what we have been told, or perhaps not been told. A lot of what is broadly accepted as our ‘common’ history is in fact the storying of nationhood and equalty of opportunity that celebrates the actions of settler governments. In this process, some historical narratives are intentionally silenced while others have been amplified."
- Mere Berryman

Mere’s challenge to the conference was for every individual to realise their personal agency to enact the promises made on their behalf in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

"Mere is so very special, her presence is so humble, and yet her words are so compelling. She reminded us that we all have to connect to the history, our history, and where we sit within that history. Everybody is taking it on board on paper, but if you really want change those of us in leadership roles have to understand where we connect, and where our responsibility lies, otherwise it’s just rhetoric."
- Louisa Barham NZASA President

Mere illustrated how the history of education in Aotearoa reflects that of wider society with an accumulation of ‘policy sediment’ that still mires this generation of learners, and their families, in a status quo of privileging some, while abandoning others.

Consistent and focused support of contemporary initiatives has been ineffective, with the sector too often left to determine for themselves how best to respond.

"The aspirations of the first two iterations of Ka Hikitia went unfulfilled and, as a nation, this went largely unnoticed. Without our recognising the full implications of what is required and where to start, excellence and equity for all through education may also continue to be ignored despite the changes to the Education and Training Act and the actions it calls for."
- Mere Berryman

During her master class, Mere drew on the work of Mason Durie to introduce the Māuri Ora Pathway - one of the Critical Change Elements employed by Poutama Pounamu to support schools and early learning centres to bring about transformative reform.

The Best Evidence Synthesis has case studies featuring the work of Poutama Pounamu including:

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Sustainability is not a destination

Posted on 18 August, 2023

Sustainability is a way of being, an 'every day, every week, year-on-year' attitude

Sustainability is not a destination
Paying attention to what matters

Contributed by Renae Rakena, Russell McCabe, Sarah Davis and Cath McGlinchey from Kerikeri High School and Robyn Lamont from Poutama Pounamu

You sometimes hear educators express an idea that they have “done” a particular PLD initiative. Time to move on to the next thing! With multiple demands on teacher’s time and energy this might, at first, appear understandable.

However, what some schools are coming to deeply understand is that sustainability of change is not a place you arrive: sustainability is a way of being. The journey towards equitable outcomes is an ongoing journey; an ‘every day, every week, year-on-year’ attitude; one that pays attention to what matters in spite of competing demands. It is also staying focused on the vision through disruptions and uncertainties rather than deferring change actions until a mythical “getting past” or “getting back to normal” is achieved.

Kerikeri High School’s relationship with Professor Mere Berryman and what is now Poutama Pounamu began in 2003 when the school became part of Te Kotahitanga Phase 3. Two decades later those relationships are still active, still contributing to a context specific response that is focussed on equity, excellence and belonging and mauri ora for Māori and for all.

A humble PLD opportunity

At Kerikeri High School, one small part of the sustainability picture lies in a humble PLD process first conceptualised in early 2021.

The Poutama Pounamu PLD facilitator and key staff recognised the value of supporting individual teachers and other staff to grow into understanding the kaupapa to depth.

Under the umbrella of conscientisation, resistance and transformative praxis, RAPLD (Regionally-allocated Professional Learning and Development) hours were earmarked for the Poutama Pounamu facilitator to work alongside in-school leads.

The aim of this collaboration was to develop a pragmatic and easily accessible mechanism through which staff could strengthen their own critical-thinking muscles and progress their own learning.

“The secret to the school being strong is having lots of people in different roles all promoting the kaupapa quietly.” (Russell McCabe)

Initially implemented as a trial, Whakawhitiwhiti Kōrero was established in March 2021. This group would meet fortnightly for shared-sense-making and learning conversations and to contribute to each other’s learning.

Each after-school session would bring into focus a resource or reading for the group to engage with in the coming fortnight.

Participation was open to all staff and was entirely voluntary although people who expressed interest were actively encouraged to make a commitment to the rest of the group to ‘turn up’ regularly.

Right from its inception, Whakawhitiwhiti Kōrero had the support of school leadership. One pragmatic way this was demonstrated was including Whakawhitiwhiti Kōrero meeting dates in the school calendar in an attempt to reduce conflicting meeting schedules.

“Two years on it continues to be important that we have someone in the senior leadership team with an understanding of Whakawhitiwhiti Kōrero. The nature of schools today means there are times when circumstances beyond our control mean we have to prioritise what we pay attention to. When that happens Whakawhitiwhiti Kōrero has a voice at the table. Having a senior leader with oversight of the process also means we are more effective in supporting the staff leading this mahi.” (Renae Rakena)

About 17 people turned up to the first meeting in 2021. While people have come and gone over the intervening two years, in spite of the pressures and disruptions of recent times a core group continues to meet regularly. A second group of 15 people began in 2023. Leadership of both groups has shifted and is increasingly facilitated by in-school staff.

“Yes we’ve had someone from an external agency in, but that’s empowered internal leaders to grow.” Cath McGlinchey
“Being part of Whakawhitiwhiti Kōrero ignited my agency. It’s lit a fire in my belly for change that permeates across all the spaces I occupy: as an in-school PLD leader and facilitator; as a teacher; as a colleague.” Sarah Davis

Paying attention to ‘how’: Learning through cultural relationships for responsive pedagogy

One of the first conversations each group engaged with was to tease out what behaviours and attitudes would support them to listen carefully, contribute safely, learn together and deepen their understanding of what can sometimes be unsettling topics. In 2023 we collected the ideas of the group.

Staff reflections on being part of this group

At the end of 2022 the first group was invited to provide feedback about Whakawhitiwhiti Kōrero. We were curious to understand what people had learned, personally and professionally:

“Decolonisation is necessary to move forward. There is a whole depth of voice that is silenced with the current political and a growing movement to change this. We must listen to all our people, and we need to be more aware of indigenous culture and the depth of what they have lost through colonisation.”
“Personal - being much more mindful of the space that I hold, and the interactions I have and see. Professional - being much more aware of the issues that surround our learners and the disparity in content that reflects the needs of all our students.”

We were also curious to hear about what they valued from being part of this group:

“I like the given texts to introduce new ideas and offer opportunities for more in-depth reading. I'm also doing my own reading off the back of this. I want to keep doing this but when I am given an open book option I struggle to keep up or keep going.”
“Everybody bring their experiences and processing to the content. I think that listening to that is what helps our processing and our progress to make changes.”
“I really liked the set readings, that opened eyes, allowed for good robust conversations and made people uncomfortable but made us all more aware of the shared skewed histories and how it has influenced the way we are today.”
“Just love being part of a group with some like-minded goals and a willingness to be open about educational inequity.”

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Creative Collective

Posted on 02 August, 2023

Revealing our potential

The Lower Mataura Valley Collective of Edendale Primary School, Gorge Road Primary School, Hokonui Runanga, Kia Nga Wari Kohanga Reo, Little Ones Early Learning Centre, Mataura Primary School, Menzies College, Poutama Pounamu, Te Werohau, Tokanui Primary School, Tuturau Primary School and Wyndham Primary School, entered Ngā Whetū Katoa Wearable Arts Night with their collaborative work He Poi o Te Hurihanganui.

On the night the work was modelled by Menzies College Student Shaelin Moir he uri ia o Ngāi Tahu - a descendent of Ngāi Tahu.

The kākahu is the result of the collaboration of 12 different organizations, representing

  • Mana whenua
  • Kohanga Reo
  • ECE
  • 6 Primary Schools
  • a High School
  • Poutama Pounamu facilitators
  • and Te Werohau, evaluators of Te Hurihanganui.

Te Hurihanganui, or the “The Great Turning”, is the name given to the Ministry kaupapa that all those who contributed to this kākahu are currently involved in.

It was developed in acknowledgement of the systemic racism Maori have endured since the inception of our nations education system.

Together the participating education spaces have taken on the challenge to address racism and inequity and to accelerate the achievement and wellbeing of our Maori ākonga and their whanau in their individual spaces and our wider community.

He Poi o Te Hurihanganui is a representation of our collective hope for the future; a future where all ākonga experience an equitable learning environment - one that reflects their culture, their beliefs, and their whānau.

Initially the brainchild of facilitator Debbie Ruwhiu, she explains the construction of He Poi o Te Hurihanganui in this way:

"We chose the poi to represent the spread of our community and our coming together as one. The skirt or poi of our entry is constructed of hundreds of poi made by, and, reflective of our separate organisations. Those hundreds of poi have been joined together and transformed in to the single one you see before you. The white skirt when dropped signifies the removal of barriers and revels the poi as the aspirations of our whānau, allowing each individual to be who they are unconditionally.

The bodice represents the common threads that binds us on our Te Hurihanganui journey and displays the colours of each contributing education space."

Whaea Sheree Keenan of Gorge Road School has been another driving force of this kākahu and has used her amazing creative skills to support the project from start to finish. She even roped her husband into using his four plaiting skills.

There have been teachers, students, aunties, mums and dads all offering their time and creativity to produce He Poi o Te Hurihanganui. From Gorge Rd to Gore - and everywhere in between - whānau have been making poi, plaiting and designing for the past 4 months. Regular wananga were held in the fabrics room at Menzies College to plan and create with the final touches put in place right up until showtime.

"During this time of Matariki we make our desire’s known to Hiwaiterangi, that it is our hope, the collaborative efforts we have undertaken in creating our entry will be maintained moving forward to help support each other as we continue our Te Hurihanganui journey and, create education spaces that have moved on from acknowledging the systemic errors of the past, and now are focused on the positive changes that will make our education system a true reflection of our country’s unique heritage" - Debbie Ruwhiu

Manawatia a Matariki Mauri Ora!

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We are currently recruiting for Facilitators

Posted on 05 March, 2023

Here is the job description


Ngā kōrero mō te tūranga - about the role

This position will align with your passion for developing skills/capabilities and values of the PLD requirements to Te Hurihanganui communities, Communities of Learning/Kāhui Ako, schools, kura and other institutions as set out in contract agreements. In addition, you will contribute to the additional work-streams of Poutama Pounamu depending on individual expertise.

Salary will be in the range of $101,964 to $112,120 per year (pro rata if necessary), based on skills, knowledge and experience brought to the position.

There are currently two full-time positions of 37.5 hours a week and a part time position of 18.75 hours per week (0.5 FTE). These roles can be based ideally in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty area or Auckland region. Please ensure you clearly state your location preference and if you would like to be considered for the full or part time role.

  • For a confidential conversation about the role, please contact Tania Heke, Executive Director Strategic Operations and Development

Ko wai koe? – Who are you?

You must have deep understandings of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC); and historical understandings of schooling in New Zealand, including the role and influence of Tiriti o Waitangi, school policies, resources, and challenges as they relate to system improvement for Māori.

It is essential to have a relevant qualification, preferably at postgraduate level with demonstrated success as a professional development facilitator, education leadership experience and willingness to work towards Accredited Facilitator status via the Ministry of Education.

You must be able to work effectively as an individual and within a team, and be motivated to pursue new learning opportunities. You will have experience with working effectively with Māori whānau and communities and it would be advantageous to be able to communicate in te reo Māori.

Ko wai mātou? – Who are we?

Poutama Pounamu sits within the Division of Education with its main office in Tauranga, and is looking for Facilitators to be based across Aotearoa, Poutama Pounamu provides professional learning and development (PLD) and undertakes research in support of its commitment to supporting equity, excellence and belonging for all learners in Aotearoa New Zealand.

He aha ngā take me tono mai ai koe? – Why should you apply for this position?

We want you to be part of our success! Our University stands proudly on the world stage as a provider of future-focused, international education and an active player in global research. Our rankings reflect these strengths. Working with us means you’ll enjoy a satisfying work environment with many benefits.

At Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, the University of Waikato, we embrace equity and diversity; therefore, we strongly encourage applicants with the relevant capabilities from all backgrounds to apply.

  • Applications Close on Friday March 31, 2023
  • Job Requisition: 1OOO269

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Mataura Mataitai

​Te Tai Tonga

Posted on 14 November, 2022

Working with Hokonui Rūnanga

Poutama Pounamu was excited to wānanga with the Lower Mataura Schools' principals, kaiako, local Ministry of Education and Ngāi Tahu Iwi at the Hokonui Rūnanga in Gore.

After 18 months of participating in the three-year government initiative Te Hurihanganui, the wānanga provided a perfect opportunity to gather together and kōrero about the journey so far. The wānanga enabled participants to revisit the Te Hurihanganui blueprint and identify next steps of learning as part of their action planning.

From left to right: Jo Brand (Hokonui Rūnanga), Sheree Keenan (Gorge Road School), Liz Eley (Poutama Pounamu), Debbie Ruwhiu (Poutama Pounamu), Sam Walker (Mataura School), Patricia Emia (Te Kōhanga Reo Kia Ngāwari), Nardine Rhind, (Little Ones Early Learning Centre), Susan Dennison (Mataura School), Karen Stirling (Glenham School), Rodney Trainor (Hokonui Rūnanga), David McKenzie (Edendale School), Karley Wilks-Forde (Poutama Pounamu), and in front Matu Coleman-Clark (Hokonui Rūnanga). Absent from the picture: Kath Luoni (Menzies College), Tina McMullen Tokanui School and Teri Pikia (Ministry of Education).

Part of the day utilised the expertise of Ngāi Tahu Iwi Jo Brand and Matu Coleman-Clark. Iwi were able to articulate their aspirations from an Iwi perspective, for ākonga Māori and their whānau, living in the local rohe.

Ngā Tumuaki are still on a steep learning journey, their progress and the whanaungatanga development as a roopu is evident and strengthening the cultural environments of their schools.

The understanding of true partnership has enabled teams to engage with Iwi appropriately and respectfully to ensure we can, together, support outstanding experiences for our Tamariki and Rakatahi who will lead our future.

- Jo Brand

The day included a tour of the local area and a rich historical cultural narrative retold by historian Rodney Trainor as summarised below.

Mataura Te Awa Mataitai
The Mataura Te Awa Mātaitai is the first freshwater reserve in New Zealand.

The Mataura River remains an important mahinga kai for Ngāi Tahu for gathering kanakana (lamprey) and tuna (eels).

It also provided nohoanga (campsites) along the river for annual fishing expeditions.

The Mataura River notably offered an access route between coastal Murihiku (Southland) to Fiordland and the West Coast for the gathering of pounamu for Ngāi Tahu whānui.

Tuturau Reserve — Mataura
The Tuturau Public Reserve stands in memory of an historic battle which took place on the site in 1837.

It is said that the last shot of New Zealand’s Musket Wars was fired at Tuturau.

Ngāti Tama warriors, led by Te Puehe from near Nelson, undertook a remarkable journey in the hope of capturing the Murihiku Lands of the Mataura.

Their initial raid was successful; however, this success was only short-lived as the famous local Chief Tuhawaiki heard about the invasion. He gathered a party of warriors to counter attack where Te Puehe was slain and the rest of his warriors were taken prisoner, some to be later released.

We returned to the Hokonui Rūnanga for a tasty lunch, concluding with poroporoakī, a chance to acknowledge the rich cultural perspective that has been gained to date through the ongoing interactions with the Te Huirhanganui kaupapa.

Tino Rangatiratangamo tātou, a, mo, ka uri a muri ake nei”.
“Creating and controlling our own destiny, for us and our children after us”.

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Mana Wāhine Wānanga

Posted on 14 November, 2022āhine-wānanga

Powerful kōrero

Ngā mihi to Whaea Trish Emia and her sister Rōna for sharing their extensive knowledge during a Mana Wāhine wānanga at Te Kōhanga Reo o Kia Ngāwari, sponsored by Te Hurihanganui ki Te Tai Tonga.

Kōhanga Māma’s, Poutama Pounamu and wāhine in the Mataura community were able to gain knowledge around Hauora a-wairua, a-Hinengaro, a-Tinana, a-Whatumanawa kei raro i te maru o te Te roopū Te Hurihanganui.

The day commenced with whanaungatanga, ko wai au and an overview of the day.

Whaea Trish, also a Blended Learning Kaiwhakaako shared her whakaaro on decolonising and indigenising education systems.

Her kōrero emphasised Māori are not to blame for the inequities that Māori experience on a daily basis that have been perpetuated by those who have little understanding of Mātauranga Māori. This kōrero guided wāhine to engage in powerful discussion around racism from personal experiences and how they can support their tamariki.

Whaea Trish Emia explains the background to this event:

This wānanga came about as a result of whānau feedback to personal concerns about themselves their whānau and especially the education system to which they said does not listen or include us.

After karakia, hīmene, and waiata, empowerment was seen as they were walked through their own Atuatanga/God like qualities they did not know they possessed.

From Io ki te ao mārama, they now know the mana they carry as Māreikura. The energies escalated during Hikitia te Hā that saw them stay connected to Atua.

This was apparent through kõrero shared at the time and the questions asked...Kua piki haere te manaakitanga o tõ tātau whanaungatanga. The confidence to question, the strength to act when inequalities are before them was discussed and I witnessed a renewed strength of character and could see how they truly can carry the mana not just of themselves, but their whānau and hapori.

I left with the right tools to help me as a wahine. I know how to ground myself now, and my tāne and six tamariki benefit. The mirimiri left me energised as I was so mamae from mahi. The kõrero shared was gold.
- Maria
The sharing was enlightening. My eyes are wide open to racism but I was literally blown away by others' experiences that I heard during the wānanga. I am so thankful for the safe environment that allowed me to be 100% me! I’m okay to deal with racism now and will call it out.
- Lynette
We were all at ease and comfortable to ask questions.The dynamics of healing came from all present, as a collective. We know who we are holistically now and I got far more than I expected from the depth of kõrero.
- Rona
Wow! When is the next one? I can’t thank you enough for the reo and tikanga. I have mana because I am māreikura, just Wow!
- Maiden
We are so lucky, we gathered together and grew together. We are lucky to be a part of Te Hurihanganui. I could fully participate knowing my boys were with a kaitiaki pēpī organised by Nan Trish and I am a willing participant for anything that stems from this wānanga.
- Rota
I got heaps out of this, from the kõrero to the practical exercises that I can pass on to whānau and others in our community. I am bridging the gap between my tamariki and kura. I am more vocal there with no walls up. My hinengaro was full and so was my kete. Will there be another one?
- Charlena

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