Wānanga at Te Āwhina Marae

Kia ora and welcome to Poutama Pounamu

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

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​Launching the new year: Poutama Pounamu 2021

Posted on 02 March, 2021


First team hui

Gazing out across the sparkling waters of the Wharekawa Harbour I waited for my friends, my heart racing with anticipation.

It was the beginning of February 2021 and we were having our first team hui of the year at the stunning Wharekawa Lodge in Opoutere. People were coming from all over the country, from as far away as Invercargill, Nelson, and Wellington right through to Kerikeri to start off the new year together. There were new team members to be welcomed in and those already part of the whānau to reconnect with.

As we arrived in twos and threes we gathered around the barbeque tables outside the shared dining room. Birdsong filled the evening air as the manu flitted in and around the surrounding trees while on the ground there was much hugging, laughing, and excited conversation too!

We were honoured to have one of the local kaumatua and his whānau welcome us to their very special place with a mihi whakatau. That evening, members of the local waka ama team cooked and served our kai. It was so delicious that we all ate way too much that night! He reka te kai, he reka te manaakitanga hoki!

Over the next two days we soaked in the wairua of this beautiful place as we welcomed our new people into the whānau and began to consider the year ahead together.

We began with whanaungatanga and there were many shared tears and laughter as we came to know each other through our stories, our discovered connections to each other and the kaupapa.

Our work involves supporting schools/ kura and communities to understand how we may all contribute more effectively towards ending inequitable outcomes for our tamariki and mokopuna.

It was apparent that we share a deep commitment to equity, excellence and belonging for all and were keen to take the opportunity to deepen our understanding and skill in supporting this important mahi.

Ironically, we spent our days working in the original schoolhouse. The place that in the past was designated as the local native school and where the colonial curriculum was enacted upon the tamariki of the area.

The first day focused on creating and confirming our vision, our values and ways of being to light the pathway towards mauri ora for 2021 and beyond.

We explored the strategic overview together and Mere shared some key messages with us in regards to working towards our vision within Poutama Pounamu, the University of Waikato, the Ministry of Education, the wider education sector and indeed the society in which we live.

It was at times sobering to consider the immense task before us but there were mostly moments of excitement and confidence as we reflected on how far Poutama Pounamu have come and what a difference we are making in contributing to and supporting our collective efforts to transform the education system.

The next morning, the more intrepid among us, (some would choose a different word perhaps) arose early and met at the wharf as the new day began. Shanan and Ryan had the waka ready for us and after a karakia, off we set. Johnson called out to keep us in unison as we paddled and we all really did try to stay in time.

We arrived at the bar between us and the open ocean and were faced with a big decision - should we give it a go and head out over the bar or not? Our ‘camp mother’ Sharon wisely suggested that it was not safe enough to try today and when we found out later there had been a tsunami alert that morning we were grateful for the call.

The quiet dip-dip of the paddles, the gliding stingray beneath us and that special hush of a new day calmed our minds and bodies bringing a sense of mauri ora to us all. The rest of the day was given to finishing the mahi from the previous day and tidying up ready to return home.

The manaakitanga of our hosts was exceptional, humbling and very much appreciated. We can’t wait to return again but before that we have some mahi to do! Mauri ora!

Submitted by Rāwini Ngaamo

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Learning from Māori expertise

Posted on 05 February, 2021


building productive partnerships

School and ECE leaders, teachers and communities have a new best evidence feature that explains the ‘how’ of building productive partnerships in driving for change and excellent outcomes for ākonga in English medium education.

The ‘Learning from Māori expertise’ feature from 'Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis (BES) Hei Kete Raukura' focuses on Rongohia te Hau which is a kaupapa Māori way of building on and giving ongoing effect to whanaungatanga.

Rongohia te Hau ‘Listening to the winds of change’ involves the use of evidence including survey responses from ākonga, whānau, iwi and educators, observations of teaching and co-construction processes to develop culturally responsive teaching and learning across the curriculum.

Rongohia te Hau is just one of the critical change elements for equity, excellence, belonging and wellbeing used by Poutama Pounamu in schools and Early Childhood Centres across Aotearoa.

This new comprehensive BES feature comes off the back of calls that progress towards a culturally responsive education for Māori have been too slow and highlights the evidence of what does and does not work when evaluated by effects on Māori ākonga.

It brings that evidence to life through seven videos explaining the learning journey of Te Kāhui Ako o Te Puke and Bethlehem College Chapman, working with Poutama Pounamu, to use Rongohia te Hau.

Professor Mere Berryman, who is seen in the videos working with the teachers, says;

  • ‘It is important when using tools of any kind that we consider the theories that underpin them; why have they been developed; whose experiences are we better able understand; to learn from; and respond to. With this information we are better placed to build from people’s experiences rather than think we need to fix them up. The processes of Rongohia te Hau seek to work with people rather than do things to them.’

Three school principals who have won the Prime Minister’s Educational Excellence Awards also appear in the videos to explain how this expertise has sustained their ongoing improvement trajectory.

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Poutama V8

Work with us

Posted on 27 November, 2020


Join our team

We are looking for Facilitators to join our team in providing professional learning and development in support of our commitment to building equity, excellence and belonging for all learners in Aotearoa New Zealand.


The positions will be based in all regions of Aotearoa New Zealand in order to serve Te Hurihanganui communities, Kāhui Ako, schools, kura and other institutions that are part of our workstreams.


To be successful in the role, it is essential to have a relevant qualification, preferably at postgraduate level, with demonstrated success as a professional development facilitator, and a willingness to work towards Accredited Facilitator status via the Ministry of Education.

In addition 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 the Treaty of Waitangi, school policies, resources, and challenges as they relate to system improvement for Māori.

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.

It is essential that you have a full driver’s licence and are prepared to travel locally as well as out of region.

How to apply

For more information contact:

  • Mere Berryman: mere.berryman@waikato.ac.nz or
  • Elizabeth Eley: elizabeth.eley@waikato.ac.nz
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Larger Set Angled

Realising our agency

Posted on 01 November, 2020


Promoting contexts for change

Melissa Corlett teaches at Victory School in Nelson. She is one of a number from the region who have used their Poutama Pounamu Blended Learning work to launch their Master's studies.

Based on her experiences with Poutama Pounamu, Melissa has also contributed an article "Building the moral imperative to do better by Māori students - A Pākehā teacher’s reflection" to The New Zealand Council of Educational Research (NZCER) journal SET (SET 2, 2020).

She explains the background to the article:

The goal of the Poutama Pounamu Blended Learning course is to promote contexts for change where equity, excellence, and belonging for Māori and all learners can be realised.

In this article I share some key learnings from my own journey through this course.

I reflect on my path towards honouring the Treaty of Waitangi, including the challenges I have experienced in confronting Pākehā privilege and deficit theorising. I share my developing understanding of what it means for Māori to achieve success as Māori, as well as the meaning of ako and unfinishedness. Growing my own critical praxis has been uncomfortable, but the journey I share in this article is ultimately about hope. I believe that we can collaboratively build education to do better by Māori students, to benefit all learners and the nation.

The article speaks of Melissa’s own key learnings from engaging with the Blended Learning, together with other members of the staff at Victory School. She suggests that important learnings have been:

    • the moral imperative to do better grows from an acknowledgement of inequity and injustice in New Zealand’s education system.

    • Education sends students powerful messages about their inherent value. If we do not deeply acknowledge Māori identity and belonging in our schools we continue to primarily value the identities of those who already see themselves everywhere, generally Pākehā.

    • Deficit theorising can work to protect Pākehā privilege by framing inequity as outside of Pākehā responsibility.

    • By thinking critically about the social construction of my role as a teacher, including the source and effects of my actions, my potential as a Pākehā agent of change has begun to develop.
To conclude her Master's, Melissa is undertaking research into the potential of the early childhood curriculum document Te Whāriki to support educational reform and decolonisation in primary school classrooms. Melissa contends that:

The connections and intersections between the intent and content of Te Whāriki and what I understand about cultural relationships for responsive pedagogy are exciting. This leads me to wonder about the potential of Te Whāriki to support teacher development in primary schools.

Cultural responsiveness requires an acknowledgement of how power manifests itself within interactions and how this power is rooted in our colonial history. It also requires us to consider that the systems, structures and policies that surround us are too, a social construction born out of this same history. Te Whāriki could provide another way to support deep reflection about teaching and learning, about learning dispositions and working theories.

It could provide a way for teachers to reconceive their roles in schools, engage with critical praxis and build new ways of being with their students, with whānau and with each other.

Melissa is seen here participating in our Blended Learning wānanga with her colleagues at Omaka and Whakatū Marae in 2017 and 2018.


  • Melissa Corlett’s abstract can be viewed, and the article purchased, from NZCER here
  • Information on the Poutama Pounamu Master's programme is here.
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Online Waananga News

Online Wānanga 2020

Posted on 28 September, 2020


Maintaining our connection and commitment

'Me ka moemoeā au, ko au anake;
Me ka moemoeā tātou, ka taea e tātou.'
if I were to dream alone, only I would benefit.
If we were to dream together, we could achieve anything.

- Princess Te Puea Herangi

When COVID-19 restrictions dictated that marae could not host noho events we were challenged to re-imagine the blended learning noho marae wānanga. While we accepted that working virtually could not hope to replicate these important cultural contexts, we looked to gain inspiration from the words of Princess Te Puea Herangi and build on learning we had done over the last decade around blending virtual and face-to-face learning to develop an online wānanga process.

Bringing 70 teachers, leaders, ERO reviewers and professional development facilitators together from across the country, we held a three day ‘at distance’ wānanga for kaiwhakaako within the Poutama Pounamu Blended Learning course during the July term break.

We decided that through Zoom we could draw our collective focus to the kaupapa of the wānanga - ‘Understanding resistance and decolonisation as a critical part of conscientisation’.

Kaiwhakaako sessions began with an online whakataukī to open the space for learning. This was followed by whakawhanaungatanga to reconnect as a group, to develop familiarity with people who we had not met face-to-face and to connect to the kaupapa of the wānanga.

Multiple hui over a week of ongoing engagement
Supported by a curated website designed to connect to the work within the Blended Learning course, and current conversations across the wider education context, the whanaungatanga process was followed by an iterative series of synchronous large group online hui focused on sharing new learning.

Exploring and adding to this new learning then became the focus of asynchronous hui within pairs or small groups. Further resources and critically reflective question frameworks were provided to support this collaborative sense making. Layering up the learning further, each group then fed back into the synchronous online hui which led to a deeper, critically conscious consideration of current systems, structures and practices.

There was a wide range of knowledge shared as koha in response to the asynchronous hui including poetry, songs, video clips and readings. Nicky Chalmers shared, as a response to Rāwini Ngaamo’s thesis, on her local radio station:

Video courtesy of Nicky Chalmers and The Breeze Nelson

A focal point of the learning, and one that sparked many responses, was the policy statement that all schools will implement the teaching of New Zealand history by 2022. The question, “whose histories?”, along with an exploration of some key moments within the relationship between tangata whenua and tangata tiriti, raised critical questions about the discourses that continue to pathologise matauranga Māori within our curriculum, the opportunities of a local curriculum to resist the omission of history prior to 1840 and the ‘white-washing’ of our colonial past, and the questioning of the current relationships between schools and mana whenua.

Whilst an online wānanga cannot replace the deep sense of human connectedness that noho marae experiences hold within them, this wānanga has suggested that we can be nimble in our response to uncertainty and we can create responsive and relational contexts for learning at distance.

Some Kaiwhakaako responses:

Tino mīharo te mahi tahi te kōrero tahi, te whakawhiti whakaaro tahi ki a koutou katoa.
It is very heartening to know that there is a greater collegial group in the workforce that are committed to this very precious important kaupapa.

Really feel like this wānanga has reset me post-lockdown into the important mahi ahead. Lockdown has caused a lot of critical examination of "how we do education". While we are in the process of significant shake ups in education it's great to have this wananga refocusing us on decolonising education as part of the reinvention.

How do I continue to pull at and unpick the threads of the socially constructed norms that surround me, that have been MY norm? How do I enact Pākeha responsibility alongside Māori for Māori? What are the ways I am actively doing this and what else can I do?

Kotahi te kohao o te ngira e kuhuna ai te miro ma, te miro pango, te miro whero.

Through the eye of the needle pass the white thread, the black thread, and the red thread.
This whakataukī has been an eye opener. We are not favouring one kaupapa over another but bringing it all to the table and constructing a mana ōrite type dialogue and way of doing things.

Story submitted by Dawn Lawrence

Considerations in the online space - A Resource for Educators

Thinking firstly about content - What am I putting up? Does it connect with my learners? Beyond that, it’s being deliberate about how I set up what happens next. It needs to be more than just ‘Engage with the content and answer these questions’. That’s a transmission, instruction/monitoring kind of interaction.

I’m looking for how the content and task will excite and provoke engagement and learning. For example, 'How do these two readings/resources spark curiosity and stretch their thinking? What questions can I pose that invite my learners to make links to their lived experiences? What questions will support them to make connections between the two?'

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What is Te Hurihanganui?

Posted on 04 September, 2020


The initiation of a Government commitment

Budget 2018 provided an allocation for the Ministry of Education to work with a group of ten Mātanga (experts), to design a blueprint to strengthen equity and lift achievement for Māori students.

The collective experience, and evidence about what would work for ākonga Māori, ensured that this blueprint would build on the lessons learnt from Te Kotahitanga and subsequent programmes, while also considering new system settings. Mātanga expertise spanned the entire education system from Early Childhood, including iwi and whānau Māori.

The Mātanga group comprised Jim Peters, Professor Wally Penetito, Mere Berryman as the chair, Daniel Murfitt, Professor Roberta Hunter, Te Waipounamu Teinakore, Dr. Lesley Rameka, Hurae White, Therese Ford and Whetu Cormick.

Although we knew that sites of excellence could be found in some English medium schools, we agreed that exemplars in which Māori students were enjoying and achieving educational success as Māori were more likely to be found in kaupapa Māori settings.

Within these settings, Māori culture, identity and language are actively prioritised and celebrated, and whānau Māori are more likely to be an active and valued part of their children’s learning experiences and cultural affirmation.

Alternatively, over successive generations, our state education system has socialised a dominant narrative reinforcing privilege based on the English language and colonial values. Subsequently, education has been largely undertaken against a deficit background of misunderstanding, bias and racism which, together with the devaluing and suppression of Māori language and values, has perpetuated ongoing disparities and disadvantage for Māori.

We understood that supporting ākonga Māori to experience education success required us first to understand and respond to this historical colonial context and that this would require significant action and commitment if we were to transform the system to support and sustain Māori education success as Māori.
Te Hurihanganui

A new name was also needed to reflect the transformative nature required of the work and locate this initiative within the wider Education Work programme. After lengthy discussions, Kingi Kiriona (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Apa) gifted the name Te Hurihanganui, providing the following explanation:

… it is said that Ranginui (the Sky Father) and Papatūānuku (the Earth Mother) were separated by their son Tāne Mahuta and his brothers. Such was the grief of both parents following the separation, and as an act of aroha, the children elected to turn their mother face down to avoid one parent seeing the sadness and despair of the other. This act became known as ‘Te Hurihanganui’, the great change or turning point, from which mankind evolved into Te Ao Mārama (the World of Light).

We agreed that Te Hurihanganui and this story were symbolic of the significant action required to achieve transformative education system reform. We recognised that to realise the educational potential of ākonga Māori, this new initiative must be revolutionary and act as a turning point for the system. However, in accepting the name, Te Hurihanganui, responsibility must also be taken for the courageous guardianship this name, and initiatives associated with it, will require.

Design Principles to Budget Bid

Based on evidence and our experiences of what works for Māori in education, six design principles that we believe are critical for transformative education system reform were reported to Minister Davis.

  • Te Ao Māori – Rich and legitimate knowledge is located within a Māori worldview. Under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the education system must create and hold safe spaces for this knowledge to reside, supporting Māori to live and succeed as Māori.
  • Tino Rangatiratanga – Māori exercise authority and agency over their mātauranga, tikanga, and taonga. In order to access this knowledge, Māori leadership is essential. Through decolonisation of the education system, Māori potential will be realised.
  • Whanaungatanga – Whānau relationships are an exemplar for authentic, meaningful and transformative relationships in education. These relationships are based on mutual trust and respect from which shared understandings and reciprocal benefits can arise.
  • Te Ira Tangata – Everyone is born of greatness and imbued with inner potential and conscious awareness. This brings with it the responsibility to be critically aware of ourselves, our world, and each other.
  • Mana Ōrite – Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the foundation for equal, reciprocal, respectful and interdependent relationships between Māori and non-Māori (Pākehā - of colonial heritage, and tauiwi - more recent migrant of refugee).
  • Te Hāngaitanga – We must take collective responsibility for ensuring Māori can enjoy and achieve education success as Māori. This can be achieved if all within the education system (Māori, Pākehā and Tauiwi) work in unison to understand and address these design principles.

Together, these interdependent principles offer greater potential for developing an equitable and excellent education system where Māori students will come to believe they are valued and belong.

The Ministry used this work to develop a budget bid which successfully received 42 million dollars over the next three years from the Wellbeing budget. How this work will play out, and with whom, is yet to be decided. We trust that our blueprint and principles continue to be interpreted from positions of cultural strength and potential. We know that our future sits with our children who deserve better than we received and that this responsibility will ultimately sit with all of us.

Submitted by: Te Hurihanganui Mātanga

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