Cropped Becroft Img 7306

Celebration and challenge

Posted on 03 September, 2020

Insights into the vision of Te Hurihanganui

Lee Rangitaawa, Seiin Paul, Minister Davis, Kyia Butcher, Cassiopeia Harrison, Minister Martin

On the 10th of June Te Hurihanganui was launched in Porirua by Minister Davis and Minister Martin. It was a milestone for those who have worked to bring this about, especially for the Mātanga group who brought their experience to the Ministry of Education to inform this government commitment.

The mood at the launch, as can be seen in these images, was very much one of celebration and anticipation.

One of those present was Children's Commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft. Last year's report Education Matters to me undertaken by The Office of the Children's Commissioner and the New Zealand Schools' Trustees Association was one of many that the Mātanga fed into their deliberations to consider not only the issues, but where is the evidence, the practices and the pedagogy that have proven to work best for Māori?

The day of the launch has passed and for the Mātanga it is now a time of reflection as they wait to see what steps the Ministry take to operationalise their input.

In the following article they provide insights into their thinking and are explicit about the challenge that has been laid down, for them and for all educators in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Te Hurihanganui: Listening to the experiences of the Mātanga


In this article we share the work undertaken by the group of Mātanga (experts in their particular field) who were invited to develop a Blueprint in response to the incoming coalition Government’s call to restart Te Kotahitanga. This Blueprint and the potential system work that will emerge, have been named Te Hurihanganui.

In this paper we outline the context for developing this work and the main events leading up to its launch. These events are viewed from the perspectives of the Mātanga.


In 2018, a one million dollar budget allocation enabled the Ministry of Education to consider what a new version of Te Kotahitanga (translated as ‘unity of purpose’) might look like. Te Kotahitanga, a successful secondary school reform programme (Bishop, Berryman & Wearmouth, 2014), had been terminated by its funder, the Ministry of Education, in 2013 at one of the high points of its success (Alton-Lee, 2015). This new budget work had to fit within the key priorities of the Ministry of Education’s Work Programme, and to progress the coalition Government’s agreement to restart Te Kotahitanga. The work also needed to align with the Government’s cross-agency Child Wellbeing Strategy.

To do this work, a group of ten Mātanga were invited to come together to co-design a Blueprint for a new approach alongside two members of the Ministry of Education’s Policy and Professional Learning teams.

The Mātanga group comprised well-known and well-respected leaders in transformative change for Māori within the New Zealand system. This co-design team needed to conceptualise an approach that would work in English medium education settings, together with any interconnected Māori medium settings, and be able to work from early childhood to senior secondary school. In these settings the approach needed to be able to address bias, strengthen equity and accelerate educational achievement and wellbeing of Māori learners.

This article presents Mātanga reflections of what they did and how they believed this work could be used for the potential betterment of future generations of learners. It concludes by reminding us of the enduring threats of appropriation, misinterpretation and potential ongoing marginalisation of Māori learners if this work is not undertaken with urgency and in ways that align culturally within an “ethical space of engagement” (see for example Nehiyew scholar, Willie Ermine, 2007).

Background - Why the need for reform

Over successive generations in New Zealand, our state education system has socialised a dominant narrative, reinforcing privilege based on the English language and colonial values (Bishop & Glynn, 1999). As in many colonised countries, education for Māori has largely been undertaken against an impositional and deficit background of imposed colonial belief systems, misunderstandings, bias and racism (Shields, Bishop & Mazawi, 2005). This, together with the devaluing and suppression of te reo Māori and values, has perpetuated ongoing disadvantage through colonisation for disproportionate numbers of Indigenous peoples worldwide (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, 1986).

In New Zealand, the cumulative impact of this is seen across the education system in the devaluing and rejecting of te ao Māori (a Māori worldview), te reo Māori (Māori language and an official language of New Zealand) and mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) in many parts of the system. The exception is where Māori have achieved greater autonomy and self determination in setting the schooling agenda (Kaupapa Māori settings). It is also seen in the bias, prejudice and racism concerning Māori and the inequitable outcomes across all important social indices including education (New Zealand Schools’ Trustees Association (NZSTA) & Office of the Children’s Commissioner, 2018; Office of the Auditor General, 2012). Disrupting the inequity, racism and bias perpetrated on Indigenous peoples will require Indigenous leadership and knowledge as well as other significant transformative actions, if, as a system, we are ever to support and sustain Māori success in education (Alton-Lee, 2015; Berryman & Macfarlane, 2017).

Those who accepted the invitation to join the Mātanga group were 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.

Their collective experience and evidence about what would work for Māori students ensured that this group could build on the lessons learnt from Te Kotahitanga and subsequent programmes, while also considering the current political context and policy system settings.

Reflecting on this opportunity

Reflecting on the opportunity to be Mātanga, Roberta Hunter, better known as Bobbie, a woman of Manahiki and Aitutaki, recalled that:

Being a member of this Mātanga group was a humbling experience especially given that the goal of the group was to address the most critical challenge currently facing Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Whetu Cormick from Ngāti Raukawa ki Wharepuhunga and the current president of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation also spoke of the privilege of being invited onto such a group:

I was proud to have been selected to participate in the development of Te Hurihanganui - a Blueprint for transformative system shift.

Wally Penetito from Ngāti Haua, Ngāi Raukawa and Ngāti Tamaterā, reflected that the Mātanga group was unique in its breadth and experience, suggesting that:

Our chair, Professor Mere Berryman has drawn together a very diverse group from a range of disciplines and experiences who share several powerful points of view.

He understood that for a number of reasons, getting greater equity from the education system for Māori, would not be easy or straight forward:

The education system has difficulty delivering on its promise of a fair go in schooling for all New Zealanders. There is an urgent need to better equip teachers, administrators and bureaucrats with the tools to identify and counteract the numerous biases that corrupt our education system. Institutional racism plagues the system and is so embedded that it often is taken-for-granted as portraying ‘that’s the way things are’.

Te Waipounamu Teinakore from Waikato Tainui and Ngāti Haua, explains the fundamental challenge and urgency in mapping out a system change when cultural and systemic change is necessary:

When a system validates the beliefs and philosophical ideologies of the dominant culture they themselves struggle to see the injustices on which it was built. Yet those who continue to be underserved and disabled by this system insist that “Enough is enough” and there has to be a better way. We all knew that something had to change but more importantly to do nothing would see us sitting at the same table in 50 years discussing the same issues.

Daniel Murfitt, principal of William Colenso College and principal in Phase 5 of Te Kotahitanga, understood the opportunity and potential solutions that they were presented with. He also understood that while there were proven approaches to draw from, the system itself would also need to be transformed:

We came together with the sole aim of changing the status quo for Māori within the education system of Aotearoa. We were given the licence to bring our experience to the table and come up with a blueprint of what we know works, what the evidence tells us works, what we have seen others do that works, and what we believe needs to be done to spread this mahi across and within the system.

Although Mātanga knew that sites of excellence could be found in some English medium schools they 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 largely decolonised settings, Māori culture, identity and language are actively prioritised and celebrated and whānau Māori (Māori families) are more likely to be an active and valued part of their children’s everyday learning and cultural experiences.

Dr Lesley Rameka of Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Tukorehe descent, who brought expertise from her work in the Early Childhood sector also saw the reframing of the learning contexts as critical to the change required:

We require the reclamation of Māori ways of knowing and being through affirming the validity and legitimacy of Māori language, culture, identity and knowledge within educational contexts. This we believe will establish the foundation for Māori success across all sectors of the education system and will support Māori cultural, social and economic wellbeing.

The Mātanga understood that supporting Māori learners to experience education success in English medium settings, first required an understanding of and response to the pervasive historical colonial context and its continued dominance over English medium schooling. Just as Kaupapa Māori had claimed the space in which to decolonise and be self-determining, changing the more than 90% of English-medium settings would require significant and coherent action and commitment.

Therese Ford from Ngāi Takoto is actively working with school leaders to take up this challenge:

Fundamentally we have an opportunity to decolonise and subsequently transform our education system and wider society.

Hurae White of Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Ruahikihiki descent agrees this will require a focused and determined approach:

We have unapologetically highlighted the need for educators to expose bias.

It challenges all educators to be brave, bold and brilliant to get the huge shift that is needed to make a real difference for our tamariki. I believe this mahi is pivotal and supports our tamariki to be proud of their whakapapa and have their heritage acknowledged as a strength as tangata whenua.

Therese Ford has seen the impacts and opportunities of re-orientating educational settings:

De-centring entrenched beliefs and practices can open up the opportunity to critically consider alternative decolonising responses, particularly for children and whānau who are currently the least well served in our system.

Such responses would include recognising the mana of whānau and genuinely valuing the expertise they have and the aspirations they have for their children. Recognition of mana, expertise and aspirations however, will not go far enough.

Determined acts of collaboration that enable whānau to fully contribute so that educators at all levels of the system can learn from and with their Māori communities would increase the potential for transformation.

Moving forward, the Mātanga understand that the unfulfilled promise of the Ka Hikitia Māori strategy (Ministry of Education 2008; 2013) would be essential for the system shift that is needed (Office of the Auditor General, 2013).

This strategy was a deliberate call to educators across the New Zealand system to step up their efforts to ensure more Māori students were enjoying and achieving educational success as Māori. Despite the best intentions of the policy makers and the desire of principals and teachers to see the best for their Māori students, the introduction of the policy alone was not sufficient to disrupt the ongoing patterns of power, resistance and pedagogy that perpetuate Māori student underachievement (Berryman et al., 2016). To ensure all learners and their whānau feel they can belong within the systems and environments that we as educators create, a strong and clear strategy such as Ka Hikitia, properly supported, will be required for successful transformation of the system. Rather than continue to pathologise whānau Māori or abrogate responsibility to change, a system step up must be undertaken with whānau rather than continue to be done to whānau.

Hurae White explains:

Culture is positively powerful when ākonga feel safe and secure to bring their perspectives and experiences to their learning environments. For far too long Māori children have been expected to leave their Māoritanga at the school gate, assimilate and ultimately become ‘Pākehā’ in order to survive the education system here in Aotearoa.

Asking the critical question

The Mātanga accepted the invitation to contribute to this political initiative after deep consideration. We knew that government task forces such as this are a regular occurrence, and our collective histories would forewarn that top down political initiatives such as these have not always served Māori, our own people well, however, we received assurances from the Ministry of Education that this would be a process of true co-design. As a group of Māori, a Manahiki, Aitutaki and a Pākehā academic/educator, decolonising the system was something we all believed in and wanted to contribute to. Furthermore, our meeting and coming together was also seen as an important opportunity for collaboration across the sector.

Jim Peters, a descendant from Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Hine, Ngā Puhi and Clan McInnes suggested that:

The group were aware of the need for best practices and positive perspectives at all times. Their collective viewpoints must be of great help in the development of the next phase, inclusive of pre-school, primary and secondary school content and teaching practices. The Mātanga group brought to their work a comprehensive understanding of the educational landscape for Māori in Aotearoa, as well as an understanding of the complexities of the education system.

Daniel Murfitt spoke of the makeup of the Mātanga group:

It was important that the group included representation from people actively working with Māori students and whānau within all sectors of the system. [If it was to be a true co-design] it was also important that Ministry of Education people were involved as well.

What the Mātanga did

To help us consider a range of related perspectives, Dr Adrienne Alton-Lee was invited to bring perspectives from the Best Evidence Synthesis with particular regard to what had worked and what hadn’t worked for Māori. (Click to view Dr Adrienne Alton Lee’s presentation)

Mātanga were then asked to bring and present, what they believed had worked for Māori from their own particular settings. Their experiences were presented at a two day wānanga held on Huria Marae in Tauranga, at which other groups including students and iwi were also invited to present. From this experience the main themes were discussed and began to be prioritised for the Blueprint. To contribute to their discussions and decisions, Mātanga were able to visit any of the sights that they had heard about, and two, at their own cost, went to hear Robin DeAngelo (2011) in Melbourne talking about bias, prejudice and racism as underpinning principles in other systems across the world.

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 with tribal affiliations to 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 their 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 that this name and initiatives associated with it, would require.

Te Waipounamu Teinakore explains:

The name itself calls for disruption of the status quo a turning point seeking enlightenment for all. Te Hurihanganui provides a platform for us to do things differently, to focus on the things that make a difference and have the courage to stop doing the things that don’t.

It’s going to take a collective approach, and we all have a vital role to play. The decisions that we make today will shape the decisions that our children have to make tomorrow.

The following whakatauākī from Kingi Tawhiao reinforces Te Waipounamu’s thinking about the need to do this important work interdependent of each other’s contribution if we are to succeed. If anyone of us tries to do it on our own, they and the kaupapa, are likely to be exposed and vulnerable.

Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati, ki te kāpuia e kore e whati.
When reeds stand alone they are vulnerable, but together they are unbreakable.

The design principles

Based on our collective experiences and evidence of what works for Māori in education, the following six design principles were identified as a central part of the Blueprint. We believe all principles, working interdependently and in synergy, are critical for transformative education system reform.

  • 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.

Lesley Rameka highlighted the importance of exposing and disrupting how a particular set of power dynamics have continued to maintain the current inequality in our system:

Te Hurihanganui marks a turning point in our education system. It provides a blueprint for a consistent and coherent programme of system change, in early childhood education through all levels of schooling and tertiary education.

At its core is the need to expose underlying assumptions that obscure power dynamics in the ‘common sense’ beliefs, educational theory and practices that maintain power structures and inequalities.

Bobbie Hunter spoke of how the Mātanga undertook an investigation into what was perpetuating the inequalities in our system, despite repeated policies designed to eradicate it:

Te Hurihanganui is a courageous document and reflects what is possible when a diverse group of people, artfully led by Professor Berryman who allowed a safe space for wide ranging views to be expressed, are able to critically consider key issues not often ‘outed’.

Fundamental recognition was given to the ever-lingering effects of colonisation embodied in an education system which continues to support institutionalised racism and structural inequities both in the schooling systems and in the wider bodies which oversee the schooling systems.

The Blueprint with the design principles above were used to propose a budget bid that was submitted by the Ministry of Education to Ministers Davis and Martin. The proposal received a budget allocation of $42 million to be used over the next three years. Te Hurihanganui was launched at Porirua on June the 10th this year in front of government and Ministry officials, the Commissioner for Children, the Mātanga and Māori students, whānau, iwi and Maori Television. The presence of those from schooling and Early Childhood, who the Mātanga believed were the targets for system reform, were noted as being very limited.

Important considerations

The sharing of individual experiences by the Mātanga and their engaging with each other in the co-design process resulted in detailed consideration of the realities of implementing a system change such as was proposed.

Mātanga investigating sites of effective practices reported committed leadership, articulating their moral purpose and driving ongoing cycles of learning and unlearning.

Moving beyond the rhetoric to activate their own agency, these leaders grew their appreciation of what is possible.

Whetu Cormick describes spreading these understandings through:

A blueprint and processes to decolonise our racist education system will help us understand how teaching and learning are culturally situated activities; that parents and whānau are partners in their children’s education; and how important it is to include resources that reflect te ao Māori perspectives.

Lesley Rameka noted the holistic and interdependent nature of learning and wellbeing requires comprehensive action:

As Mātanga, our goal is that Te Hurihanganui will move the focus beyond ‘dabbling’ around the edges of issues, to dealing with deeply embedded structural inequalities and positionings.

All the Mātanga speak of the commitment required, and as Bobbie Hunter says:

There is a need to call out, name, and then address the many factors which have caused a failed education system for many Māori students. Unless the many factors are addressed then equitable outcomes for all learners will remain an illusion.

Te Hurihanganui has the potential to be transformative and liberating but that will require enormous courage and an open transparency on the part of all participants going forward.

Daniel Murfitt reflected on how wholehearted engagement with the kaupapa inevitably strengthens relationships, grows knowledge and the collective resolve for change:

As members of this group we came together as strangers and ended up being a whānau. The mahi involved eight months of wānanga and research, but also involved decades of work and experience that every Mātanga brought to the table. This experience and mahi could not be replicated by doing what has always been done nor will the outcomes be secured without deploying that evidence and experience together in implementation.

These important considerations have informed a number of deliberate and staged pathways forward that the Mātanga believe would achieve the aspirations of Te Hurihanganui.

A position for a director within the Ministry of Education was advertised and we understand that over the next three years, a group of Kaitiaki or guardians will be invited to co-govern Te Hurihanganui with members of the Ministry leadership team. No doubt following the usual processes of procurement, a Request for Proposal will be let, interested parties will propose their intentions and potentially new groups will be chosen to participate with the Blueprint.

Although the Mātanga have one more invited meeting with the Ministry of Education, we have been told, our role has finished. This is disappointing as the Mātanga group understand very well how the Blueprint could be operationalised in a range of responsive ways depending upon the school and community’s context. Realising the Minister of Education’s vision for an efficient and effective response was uppermost in our minds at all times. However, the Ministry of Education have now taken up the operationalisation phase and, at this point in time, their intentions are unclear. Despite this, the Mātanga conversations have continued and their feelings of responsibility to this work have increased.

Where to from here?

In New Zealand’s formal education system, principles derived from colonial images have continued to guide educators’ actions and explain the basis for those actions. From this pattern of images, discourses and principles, education policies and rules of practice are developed that require indigenous students to metaphorically, leave their culture at the school gate in order to participate in education (Bishop & Berryman, 2006). Indigenous languages, values, beliefs and practices have not been represented and legitimated within New Zealand’s classrooms and schools. The education provided by the state has played a major role in destroying Māori language and culture and replacing them with that of the colonisers.

In terms of schooling Whetu Cormick outlined some tangible and measurable goals that he wanted Te Hurihanganui to achieve, suggesting that he would only be satisfied when:

  • All Tamariki Māori reaching year 13 report they had experienced no overt or covert racism at school.
  • the educational success rates of all Māori are equal to that of Pākehā.
  • the Māori perspective of our colonial history is taught to all school students in every school.
  • every single school in New Zealand adopts a culture that is bicultural and bi-lingual.

  • every aspect of the schools’ curricula includes Māori values, knowledge, tikanga, and measures of success that reflect what Māori understand as success.

Wally Penetito understood that both the problems and the answers were within our grasp. He understood that a better understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi could potentially help respond to the structural impediments through schooling as well as challenge all New Zealanders to open their hearts and minds to new possibilities:

Education is our business but it is not the answer to all our schooling problems. There are structural impediments that must be addressed before educational processes can be brought into play; and ensuring Te Tiriti o Waitangi in both its historical context and platform for future developments helps to establish a future Aotearoa New Zealand society that opens hearts and minds for all its citizens without prejudice.

Therese Ford works to create safe spaces for these critical conversations to take place:

Decolonisation involves firstly understanding how colonisation played out in our nation’s history and how it shaped and maintains our present institutionalised patterns of thinking and practice. It requires the psyche of educators at all levels of the system to be exposed and courageously critiqued so that internalised prejudice, derived from colonisation (either conscious or unconscious) can be challenged and de-centred.

Hurae White speaks for all the Mātanga when he calls for an immediate start:

It is time to change the negative assimilatory trajectory, address the disparities and call out the racist/linguistic undercurrents that exist in all levels of the sector.

Disrupting the hegemonic power of this way of thinking, requires a critical unpicking of the colonisers’ worldview and ways of being. This means understanding what is at the very heart of racism. Daniel Murfitt is clear that this is why the system itself needs to be addressed.

Te Hurihanganui came about because of the need to reclaim the space for Māori students and whānau within our whole education system.

Challenging the status quo requires the implementation processes to be different because the system is broken, the system is the tool that created the problem.


The concluding words come from Mere Berryman of Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Whare iwi, and are taken from those she prepared for the Te Hurihanganui launch at Porirua. This important event was held at Te Puna Mātauranga, an iwi-based centre that provides Māori learners and whānau with support to access and navigate the current education system.

Based on evidence and our experiences of what works for Māori in education, we believe the six interdependent design principles of Te Hurihanganui offer potential for developing an equitable and excellent education system where Māori students can be valued and belong and where communities are also contributing to and active participants in this change.

As we have seen too often in the past, the risk is that the six principles will be handed over to others to become a tick-box checklist, superficially understood and tokenistic; or even worse reinterpreted by those with the power to do so.

We, the Mātanga, stand behind our work and are determined to support this process going forward.

We know that this work is urgent. Another generation of Māori will miss out if we do not get this right.

These are worthy goals that few would disagree with and not want to aspire to. However, we know that a depth of knowledge of the evidence and lived experience of what actually works is crucial to take this work forward. Implementing Te Hurihanganui will not be effective if it is simply left to others to interpret nor will it happen if Early Childhood, schools and their leaders are left out of the conversation. We must all be up for both the culture change and the systems shifts that are required.

Our investment in education is the third biggest expense of Government. It is an investment in our collective potential, in all our futures. By 2021 the annual Government investment in the Education system is forecast to be $14.4 billion

The welcome investment in Te Hurihanganui is small in comparison to our overall investment in a system that is not delivering for all our children.

If Te Hurihanganui is to effectively address entrenched issues of inequity all the instruments of the system will have to play their part. This is not a Māori problem for Māori to fix up, this problem belongs to all New Zealanders.


Alton-Lee, A. (2015). Ka Hikitia Demonstration Report: Effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 2010-12. Wellington: Ministry of Education.

Berryman, M., Eley, E., Ford, T., & Egan, M. (2016). Leadership: Going Beyond personal will and professional skills to give life to Ka Hikitia. Journal of Educational leadership, policy and practice, 30(2), 56-68.

Berryman, M., & Macfarlane, S. (2017). Hopes for the future: Indigenous knowledge as an enabler of potential. American Journal Of Indigenous Studies, 1(2), 19-127.

Bishop, R., & Berryman, M. (2006). Culture Speaks: Cultural Relationships and Classroom Learning. Wellington: Huia Publishers.

Bishop, R., Berryman, M., & Wearmouth, J. (2014). Te Kotahitanga: Towards effective education reform for indigenous and minoritised students. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Council for Education Research.

Bishop, R., & Glynn, T. (1999). Culture counts: Changing power relations in education. Palmerston North, NZ: Dunmore Press.

DiAngelo, R. (2011). White fragility (2011) International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 3(3), 54-70.

Ermine, W. (2007). The ethical space of engagement. Indigenous Law Journal, 6(1), 193-203.

Ministry of Education. (2008). Ka Hikitia-Managing for success: The Māori education strategy 2008-2010. Wellington: Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Education. (2013). Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success 2013-2017. Wellington: Ministry of Education.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. (1986). Decolonising the Mind. The Politics of Language in African Literature. Nairobi: Heinemann.

NZSTA & Office of the Children’s Commissioner. (2018). Education matters to me: Key Insights. Wellington, New Zealand.

Office of the Auditor General (2012). Education for Māori: Context for our proposed audit work until 2017 Retrieved from

Office of the Auditor-General. (2013). Education for Māori: Implementing Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success. Parliamentary paper. Wellington, New Zealand.

Shields, C. M., Bishop, R., & Mazawi, A. E. (2005). Pathologizing practices: The impact of deficit thinking on education. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

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Online Waananga News

Online Wānanga 2020

Posted on 28 August, 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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The lessons of lockdown

Posted on 04 June, 2020

What happens to responsive pedagogy when it's socially distant?

Along with school leaders and teachers throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, our attention has been sharply focused on Learning from Home during Covid-19, Alert Levels 3 and 4. Keeping our distance in isolation for an indeterminate time caused us all to search for new ways to preserve our personal and professional connections.

He waka eke noa - we are all in this together” spoke to a national aspiration but as others have shared the local reality for many was far more fragmented.

The Institute of Education at Massey University produced this paper which speaks to how teachers, initially focused on the distance delivery of mathematics gained insights related to their students’ funds of knowledge and saw opportunities for learning both for students, parents, and the teachers themselves.

Where accessibility permitted, interactive technologies offered a means for educators to reach into the ’bubbles’ of learners and their families. It also provided learners and their families a ‘window’ to look back at us and our practice. In our response to the pandemic we understood, as educators, the need to maintain a ‘critical focus’ to ensure kindness and social justice could indeed be a part of this reality.

Where have we come from?

For more than a decade members of our team have facilitated online and at-distance learning.
As part of that mahi we initially asked ourselves:

“How might we use the range of online tools we have available to provide a context for learning that featured cultural relationships and was responsive to our learners’ prior knowledge and experiences?”

We found that we opened a richer dialogue when we re-framed this question:

“How do we create cultural relationships and responsive contexts for learning at a distance? What tools might help us to do this?”

As well as paying attention to the platforms and tools we were using, this question led us to think more deeply and critically about our own teaching and learning practices.

Looking ahead - two new resources

Reflecting back on our experiences and the feedback from our learners has led overtime to the creation of two new resources. Both draw from the aspects of our mahi that challenge the assumptions of a colonised education space so that Mauri ora and the Ako: Critical Contexts for Change continue to frame our thinking about learning online through the lens of cultural relationships for responsive pedagogy.

The first resource
The first resource is an addition to the Voices series and is entitled Activating Ako: Critical Contexts for Change within Online Learning Contexts.

This resource focuses particularly on what we have learnt about facilitating online learning through largely text-based platforms.

The intention is to support your own learning conversations and reflections on your online practice over recent weeks and what learning you will carry forward as you return to face-to -face learning contexts.

The second resource
The second resource is Activating Cultural Relationships for Responsive Pedagogy - within online and at-distance Learning Contexts.

This sits alongside and builds on the theorising shared within the article Cultural relationships for responsive pedagogy: A bicultural mana ōrite perspective.

Learning for the Future

The intention of these resources is to support leaders and teachers to reflect on their own at-distance and online pedagogy and consider how, by incorporating the principles of cultural relationships for responsive pedagogy, we may continue to engender feelings of belonging and wellbeing for our most marginalised learners and their families, wherever and whoever they are.

The continuing future uncertainties for some learners will continue to test our agency to bring about the change that is needed for this group and indeed for all learners. However, unless we are prepared to learn and be responsive within these challenges, the inequities and divisions within our society will continue to be incompatible with the aspirations of “He waka eke noa - we are all in this together” and little will have been learned or achieved.

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Effecting Change 7

Effecting Change

Posted on 26 January, 2020

Realising the promise of equity, excellence and belonging

The fourth cohort of educators to participate in Poutama Pounamu’s Blended Learning programme will commence their engagement by attending a Wānanga in late February. This research-based programme of engagement supports the understanding and implementation of Cultural Relationships for Responsive Pedagogy.

Kāhui Ako and individual Early Childhood Centres, schools and organisations are currently enrolling in the revised course that will engage them in online interaction with Poutama Pounamu and three regional Wānanga over the next twelve months.

Course Director Professor Mere Berryman says the inclusion of a third wānanga in the programme recognises the value participants placed on those mana whenua hosted events but it was also time to revisit the course content.

"So much has happened in the last two years we have to acknowledge and bring to the table; there are more voices calling more loudly for change but also a growing body of evidence of what works; of what makes the biggest difference for Māori learners and their whānau."

Participants who have already experienced the Blended Learning approach, report a perspective shift and have made changes in their personal practice a priority;

"The conversations conducted at the Wānanga had a profound moral effect on me which resulted in a strong personal resolve to be more agentic. I knew my own teaching practice was not as culturally inclusive as I had previously let myself believe and that I had important mahi to do."
- Classroom Teacher

For Kāhui Ako, Blended Learning has provided the impetus for necessary conversations that were not happening previously. A Kāhui Ako leader explains:

"I think the blended e-learning is critical. We had some that were ready to grab it and run with it, and so by making those people kaiwhakaako who would take on a group of learners just helped that spreading across all our community. Effectively all of a sudden you’ve got a hundred people who are in ākonga groups meeting on a regular basis to talk about this stuff.

Whereas before they might talk behind closed doors, and might talk with someone that has a similar opinion, now all of a sudden we’re in a mixed group, anything and everything is on the table and we’re having a conversation about racism."

Activating the agency of educators to effect change begins with understanding why change is necessary but, once consciousness is raised, knowing exactly what cultural practices and what structural processes will create more inclusive and responsive learning environments is key.

"Blended Learning is based on years of research but also it’s so well crafted - the way the information is organised, and the activities and reflections that you do… the modules seem to come in a really timely fashion...the module we’re looking at is ‘Evidence to accelerate’. You start getting specific strategies and pedagogy and all the kind of things that you need to be doing to do this justice."
- Across School Teacher

The first Blended Learning course for 2020 begins with a South Island Wānanga on the 20th and 21st of February, with a North Island Wānanga following on the 24th and 25th of February 2020.

For more information about the course, visit the e-learning section of the Poutama Pounamu website.

For support with enrolling or if you have any questions, contact team members:

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Not one generation more!

Posted on 11 December, 2019

Leaders take up the challenge

At the busiest time of the year, nearly 40 school and community leaders from throughout the North Island gathered to wānanga at Pukemokimoki Marae in Napier.

The kaupapa was explicit, to examine models of leadership proven to re-vision and decolonise education. The sense of urgency this group brought to their deliberations was encapsulated in a single phrase 'Not one Generation more!’.

On the first day, Mere Berryman provided the group with critical perspectives with which to challenge the biases and prejudices that run through our society, schools and the sector generally.

She encouraged those present to call it what it is and respond with reformed structures, processes and behaviours to restore equity for Māori and for all.

Tim White and Ngahina Transom spoke of the cultural and structural shift occurring simultaneously at Frimley Primary School. Staff and students are, together, learning te reo Māori and tikanga underpinned by cultural relationships and experiences. Whole staff participation in Poutama Pounamu’s Blended Learning has led to new thinking and new conversations, preparing the way for their intensive across school place-based curriculum.

Louise Anaru shared how a potential-framed vision ‘Student success is the only option’ became real for staff and students through not only staff commitment but also deliberate power-sharing with the Flaxmere community. Their ongoing and enduring conversations with students, family and whānau have seen success redefined in terms of identity, culture and wellbeing.

After dinner on the first night, Te Kura Reo Rua o Maraenui Tumuaki Chris Worsley helped facilitate a discussion about individual acts of leadership.

The group concluded that while leadership comes in all shapes and forms, at its core it is relational and those relationships are mana ōrite in nature, reciprocal acts of trust, respect and support. There was also an acknowledgement that if we, in education, do not lead social justice for children and young people who will?

Over the two days participants were fed and well looked after by students from William Colenso College. The College enjoys a close association with Pukemokimoki Marae. Some of the young people joined activities on the second day.

Chris Grinter of Rotorua Boys High School, and Daniel Murfitt of William Colenso, spoke on the Friday. Both, with Louise Anaru, are principals of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 schools that have not only sustained but surpassed the social, cultural and academic shifts they achieved at that time.

Chris spoke of the humility required to accept when others need to lead the change and when it is our role; of the need to be constantly and critically challenging what is actually happening; of leading an evidence informed review of the impacts of our actions.

Daniel spoke of working with his team to realise that those things that have been socially constructed can and must be socially reconstructed in new and emancipatory ways. Both reinforced what others had said about working with Māori as critical allies through and with whānau, and that change was always greater than a few individuals, it required spreading a new conversation of potential and mutual benefit to the community.

Elizabeth Eley provided an analysis of change models that resonated with the group. She reminded us to be mindful of what we are leading – to a more efficient version of the status quo, to a model of ‘fixing’ those who don’t fit or towards social transformation.

The individuals attending didn’t need convincing that widespread reform is required; their commitment to the kaupapa is visible in actions already taken.

What the wānanga provided was insights into the background to leadership decisions and actions that only those who have first-hand experience of what has worked, what didn’t work and why, can provide and offer guidance.

Partnership, Participation and Protection is promised to all under the Treaty. What will our legacy be from leading the learning in schools for tamariki and whānau of Aotearoa New Zealand?

Not one generation more! – Mere Berryman

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Confronting colonisation

Posted on 19 August, 2019

Moving from awareness to action

The leadership of the Te Puke Kāhui Ako worked closely with Poutama Pounamu to plan their second Blended Learning Wānanga at Hei Marae.

The intent of any wānanga is that we each bring our kete of knowledge to learn with, through and from each other. If the planning were to model the theme of this Wānanga, Decolonising education spaces for equity, excellence and belonging, it was especially important the wānanga ran along lines that ensured there was space for all contributions, especially for the voices in Aotearoa that have not have not always been heard or listened to.

On the Sunday morning, after being welcomed back by Uncle Tame and Auntie Punohu, everyone headed to the summit of Te Rae o Papamoa overlooking the massive complex of pa sites and coastal plains where local tribes had flourished in pre-colonial Aotearoa.

Historian Whare Rahiri pointed out the features of the whenua and spoke of what life was like for the Waitaha people before, and after the Invasion of the Waikato. Declared by the Crown to be ‘unsurrendered rebels’ because of their links to the Kingitanga, some 7,000 tribal members were driven from their homes and their lands confiscated and sold.

Despite repeated attempts to reverse this injustice, an inevitable and inter-generational decline in the wellbeing of Waitaha iwi began.

To better understand the enduring legacy of this devastation, Whare led an exploration of some te ao Māori concepts. He shared understandings passed to him about pono, tika and aroha, and how these principles for wellbeing are driven by tapu and mana.

Whare’s contribution to our learning concluded with reference to those who had worked so strenuously and for so long through the Waitangi Tribunal process, culminating in the Waitaha Claim Settlement of 2013. A settlement that could never be complete redress but one that marked a point in time to plan for the future, a more equitable future.

As the Noho Marae moved into the afternoon and evening, participants reflected on a range of narratives about colonisation and the role education plays in the process of colonisation or counter-colonisation.

As part of this, a panel was convened from participants to highlight individual and contrasting experiences of education and ‘re-education’ (Jackson 2016)

On Monday morning, Kaiwhakaako responsible for leading the Blended Learning within individual schools moved from meaning-making to collectively constructing next steps in activating transformative change.

The following are extracts from their feedback;

Colonisation has dictated that tāngata whenua assimilate, therefore disadvantaging them. How can we turn this around? - how can I promote this?

How can we redress and move forward? How do the other stories become part of The Story?

How do we facilitate conversation so everyone has a voice - that people without power have a say?

It’s also convincing white people that a relinquishing of power doesn't mean becoming oppressed themselves.

We are leaders of change; our children are still waiting.

How do we decolonise our school?

How can we help our teachers develop an understanding of tapu and mana - that enables us as leaders to help improve students' sense of wellness - identity and achievement?

Change needs to happen. Māori learners need to be better understood from a whole perspective: who they are, where they come from, how they connect to the place and land.

The importance of looking at pre-colonisation times. At looking at potential.

How can I be confident knowing that the small steps I make will be significant and long lasting? Ma te mahi tahi ka anga whakamua.

Although my actions may seem too small in the big picture, every bit counts. Iti te kupu, nui te kōrero.

The time is now.

I want to be a part of that change.

Our thanks to Hei Marae for all their care of us and to everyone who attended to support one another to experience, to learn and unlearn so we might leave with hearts and minds filled with renewed purpose.

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Southern Wānanga

Posted on 04 April, 2019ānanga

Reflections from Victor Manawatu

Our Invercargill Blended Learning whānau undertook their second wānanga at Murihiku Marae in March.

Also staying at the Marae was Victor Manawatu (Ngāti Kuri Ngāi Tahu) who was further developing the localised curriculum materials Murihiku offers schools in the rohe. He sent the following message to all those who participated.

“I was fortunate enough to be on Murihiku marae when the Poutama Pounamu hui was being held. As an observer I was very interested in what the hui was about and listening to the teachers opinions and what they were hoping to get out of the two day workshop.

I could tell from the kōrero that a lot of the participants were deeply affected by the terrorist attack on the mosque in Christchurch and it made each and everyone have a stronger look at themselves, which I believe is important if we want to have any sort of change in this country.”

“The topic around cultural responsiveness and attitudes around culture, language and identity were of particular interest to myself and the kaumatua. During the round table discussion our kaumatua thanked the teachers for their work and reiterated how impressed he was with their drive and willingness to look at working closer with all our learners. He was very pleased to be invited to listen to the kōrero and he is proud in what they are trying to do. He also thanked the facilitators for their wonderful work.

I was very impressed with the honesty from each of the participants and the realization that they have the answers to the racism that is inherent in the country. Random racist comments that would normally be ignored are now being recognized for what they are and not passed off a joke. It is a small step in the right direction. True change starts from within and I noticed a lot of the teachers taking a good look at themselves. This was reflected in some of the discussions that I listened too and some of the groups that I was privileged to sit in with.

The facilitators were very good in managing the discussions and allowed the teachers the freedom to express their opinions without fear of ridicule. Any professional development that assists in the understanding and needs of different ethnic groups has got to be good for the future of our children's education. There is too much false information and misunderstanding of ethnic minorities including Māori in this country which is why the terrorist attack at the mosque has the potential to happen again.

What a fantastic kaupapa, great facilitators and more importantly teachers who are willing to face themselves and their relationships with others”

Victor Manawatu
March 2019

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An opinion

Posted on 04 April, 2019

Therese Ford offers her perspectives

Therese Ford will be known to many of you as a teacher, facilitator, researcher and writer.

The Tomorrow’s School reforms began to emerge the year she entered secondary school. Today she has daughters living and learning within our schooling system

2019 is her ninth year of being a trustee. She has governed on a primary school board through three board elections and has now joined the board of trustees of a secondary school as her eldest daughter has began this phase of her schooling.

“I have observed with interest the Tomorrow’s School review that was undertaken last year. I participated in one of the many focus group interviews and I have taken the time to read the full report that was published in December. I now reflect on my experiences from multiple perspectives.

In doing so I am also hoping to expose some of the ‘myths’ and/or misinterpretations that I have encountered through media reports and in my conversations with school leaders.

Such misinterpretations include inferences that the recommendations represent considerable risks which will disadvantage schools and the communities they serve.

I suspect that these misinterpretations are a result of misinformation that is likely to be associated with people not reading the full report within which the recommendations are contextualised. This is concerning as the recommendations need to be understood within the wider context of New Zealand education and society as a whole, if the opportunities and potential of change is to be recognised and subsequently realised.”

Therese Ford
March 2019

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Posted on 04 April, 2019

Wānanga at Pukemokimoki

The Poutama Pounamu whānau are no strangers to the manaakitanga extended to them by Pukemokimoki Marae having been hosted here a number of times in recent years.

Last month’s Poutama Pounamu Blended Learning wānanga in Napier was no exception with kaiwhakaako from Ngā Hau e Whā and Flaxmere Kāhui Ako being well supported as they worked through a very full and intense two days of discussion and workshops,

Kaumatua Tiwana Aranui’s sharing of Ngāti Kahungunu history and taking time to connect us to the artwork in the whare kai was appreciated by all who attended.

Something else that made this wānanga special was that the food that fueled our mahi was prepared and served by students from William Colenso College.

Bobbi Seymour’s ‘Manaaki’ course acknowledges the skills, knowledge and expertise that many of her students have from working on their own, or other, marae.

Assessment is mainly demonstrated through completion of practical activities; however the required theoretical component needs to be completed also. Students choose which unit-based standards they will focus on, and are assessed in accordance with the guidelines laid out by NZQA. A half-year course, it is expected that students will complete at least 8-10 credits at Levels 2 and 3.

With former students joining their teina to tautoku them, the Year 12 and 13 students prepared and served all the meals over the two days.

The following Friday the students were back at the marae doing a thorough spring clean and inventory of items at the marae.

“I felt that as one of the most regular users of the facilities, we should also be part of the maintenance and upkeep of Pukemokimoki as well’ explained Bobbie.

“We have since hosted a pōwhiri at school – where students were able to have a ‘first attempt’ at the preparation and presentation of a chosen dish: albeit on a much smaller scale than what we are working towards.

This coming week we have the first major set of assessment tasks as the class works in the kitchen (at Pukemokimoki) to support the senior Te Reo and Kapahaka students run a wānanga for our Year 7 & 8 students. There will be approximately 140 – 160 students and teachers. The menu has been planned, the shopping list has been written up and the school freezers are full of food – we just have to find a friendly packhouse to provide the fruit to go with our kai.

Ultimately our goal is to cater/host for our school Whānau Hui– a sit-down meal for approximately 150 invited guests: whānau and guest speakers.”

Our thanks and best wishes to the Manaaki class - based on our experience, the diners at the upcoming school hui are very lucky indeed.

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