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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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Have you read this?

Posted on 01 March, 2019

Public consultation underway

Whakarongo! Whakarongo! Whakarongo mai!
Ki te tangi a te manu e karanga nei
"Tui, tui. tuituia !"
Tuia i runga, tuia i raro,
Tuia i roto, tuia i waho,
Tuia i te here tangata
Listen! Listen! Listen!
Listen to the cry of the bird calling
Sew, bind, join together
Let it be woven above, woven below
Woven within, woven without
Interwoven with the thread of humanity

The Government review of Tomorrow’s Schools by the Independent Taskforce is completed. Their report: Our Schooling Futures, Stronger Together l Whiria Ngā Kura Tūātinitini has now been released for public consultation. Tēnā koutou katoa.

We trust that the school year has started well for you, your students, and your whānau. We are making contact with all those schools, centres and institutions that share a space with Poutama Pounamu.

Poutama Poutama Director Professor Mere Berryman, together with other taskforce members Bali Haque, Barbara Ala’alatoa, Professor John O’Neill, and Dr Kathy Wylie, are currently engaged in a round of public consultation meetings to gather reaction to the report and its recommendations. Those reactions from communities around the country will feed into a final report.

Make sure your voice is heard
The Tomorrow’s Schools report will have very significant implications for future educational policy and practice in Aotearoa. Stakeholder feedback on the report and its recommendations will be critical to inform Government decision-making. Your voice, your views and your experiences will be fundamental in shaping the thinking and decisions moving forward.

Taskforce Chair Bali Haque is calling for ‘transformational change’ of the structure of our schooling system, and is arguing that "tinkering with the system … won’t work - careful and critical feedback from a broad cross-section of New Zealanders is essential."

From what we are seeing in the media, and on social media, there seems to be a concerted effort from those who favour the status quo to push back on the recommendations.

We encourage everyone to read the entire report and join in the submission process. Please take the time to respond online and attend one of the public meetings in your area. This is our opportunity to flex our educational leadership muscle! We have till April 7, 2019 to have our say.

All the best people, go well out there, and please share this message with your colleagues and networks.

Iti Joyce and Johnson Davis

How to add your voice

Public consultation on the Tomorrow’s Schools Review report, Our Schooling Futures, Stronger Together l Whiria Ngā Kura Tūātinitini, is open until 7 April 2019. The consultation can be done in the following ways:

  • Survey
    An online survey is now open until 31 March for you to provide feedback on the key issues and recommendations in the report. Click here to have your say.

  • Written Submissions
    Submissions can be emailed to
    Freepost postcards will also be available at the public consultation meetings for anyone who wants to briefly have their say on a recommendation or the full report.

  • Oral Submissions
    A free 0800 number for oral submissions is available to leave your thoughts on the future of our schooling system. Call 0800 FOR TSR (0800 367 877) to leave a message.

  • Public consultation meetings
    Taskforce-led regional consultation meetings will take place from 14 February 2019.
    Details of the locations, dates and times of these meetings is available here.

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It's time for a change

Posted on 01 June, 2018

Prof. Mere Berryman urges those who seek change to look at the evidence

As a country, we are currently experiencing a time of critical reflection and self examination in education. The coalition government has initiated parallel processes of listening and co-construction to formulate and mandate change throughout the sector.

Professor Mere Berryman, herself a member of the Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce, reminds us that in seeking answers to today’s issues we should not ignore the lessons and evidence of the past. Research over the last twenty years has provided the evidence of what can really make the difference in our classrooms, schools and communities for Māori and for other minoritised students.

Here, she shares with school leaders and academics at Waikato University why there is a need for change and presents a research-based model to accelerate simultaneous success trajectories focused on wellbeing and belonging in schools.

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