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Spreading & embedding Equity, Excellence and Belonging

Posted on 06 August, 2017

Working with Kāhui Ako

Since its beginnings at the start of 2017, members of the Poutama Pounamu whānau have consolidated prior relationships and begun to develop new relationships with schools and Kāhui Ako/Communities of Learning. We have both Expert Partners and Accredited Facilitators available to support PLD planning and delivery and we are working across all regions of Aotearoa from Te Tai Tokerau in the north to Murihiku in the south.

Thriving and succeeding
Members of the whānau are working to support a kaupapa of Equity, Excellence and Belonging. To date we are working in 47 individual schools; primary and secondary. Some of these schools have chosen to continue existing relationships that were developed through Kia Eke Panuku.

Other schools are new to this work and new to the whānau.

However, our foundational principle of developing cultural relationships and using a responsive approach with schools is allowing us to build on the existing skills and expertise in these schools to provide a one size fits one response. These understandings are being promoted across these varied settings in order to support the vision of Māori and all students thriving and succeeding within education.

Working with Kāhui Ako
and schools

In addition to the work with individual schools, the whānau is also engaged with 16 Kāhui Ako. This includes both Expert Partner and Accredited Facilitator roles and responsibilities. At last count, this brings more than 170 additional schools, including some early childhood settings, with whom potentially we will be able to work.

Working with schools and Kāhui Ako to respond to their evidence, and plan for PLD, touches on all core aspects of our work. By way of example, across our schools, members of the Poutama Pounamu whānau are:

  • working with teachers and middle leaders, and in-school and across-school PLD Leads to spread and embed cultural relationships for responsive pedagogy
  • supporting school leaders in their own critical inquiry focused on their leadership roles and responsibilities towards equity, excellence and belonging
  • working with strategic change leaders within the school to embed critical cycles of inquiry focused on equity, excellence and belonging
  • supporting schools to develop and enrich educationally powerful connections with whānau, hāpū and iwi
  • supporting literacy strategies that have been shown to promote educationally powerful connections between homes and school
  • working with schools to develop and implement Teacher Led Innovation Funding (TLIF). To date we have been successful in two out of three proposals.

Contact us
If you would like to discuss your school’s PLD priorities with one of us or explore how we can support the work in your school or Community of Learning please contact:

Submitted by Robbie Lamont

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Matamata Kaahui Ako Teacher PD Day​

Posted on 06 August, 2017

Ako: Critical Contexts for Change at Matamata

Members of the Poutama Pounamu team had the privilege of working alongside the 12 schools that make up the Matamata Kaahui Ako in the Waikato region. A teacher only day was held attended by approximately 160 staff from across all schools. The day was hosted by Matamata College and focused on:

  • developing relational trust through whanaungatanga
  • developing a shared understanding of the AKO: Critical Contexts for Change.

About the first day
The day started with a mihi whakatau (words of welcome) from local kaumatua, Mokoro Gillett, the tumuaki of Te Wharekura o Te Rau Aroha.

Mokoro welcomed everyone to the hui on behalf of the local iwi and hapū. His warm words were reinforced by Alan Munro, the principal of Matamata College.

Alan, who is also the Lead Principal of the Kaahui Ako, is supported by a leadership action group that includes the principal of Te Poi Primary school, Linda Larsen, the principal from Matamata Intermediate, Daryl Gibbs and the principal from Hinuera Primary school, Dean McDonell.

The Matamata Kaahui Ako has four Across School Teachers who each took a lead role in facilitating the learning activities throughout the day. The first of these was an icebreaker where all teachers formed pairs to share their current understandings about their Kaahui Ako and what they see as its potential.

Therese Ford, who is the Expert Partner for the Matamata Kaahui Ako, spoke first. Therese provided an overview of the education context which began with the Treaty of Waitangi and traced policy through to today where we are all engaged in the challenge of realising the potential of all students and ensuring equity, excellence and belonging across the system.

A facilitated session from the across school teachers followed. The purpose of this activity was to provide all teachers with an opportunity to meet, work and learn together in mixed school groups.

Their task was to visually represent the shared vision of the Kaahui Ako, a task where they further familiarised themselves with the strategic direction of the Kaahui Ako.

Paula Rawiri, the Director of Education for the Waikato region, spoke about her experiences of education from the perspective of being a Māori whānau and community member. Her koorero reflected strong connections to the principles of equity, excellence and belonging.

Mere Berryman then built on the key messages and themes from Therese and Paula’s presentations to contextualise the Poutama Pounamu Ako: Critical Contexts Change. The Across School Teachers worked with teachers in school teams to reflect on these three contexts and consider what was already happening and what else could be done.

The final learning challenge required mixed school teams to compete in a quiz (Quizlet) to test their knowledge about local history. This was a great way to draw on the collective prior knowledge and experience of teachers in the Matamata area and exemplify how collaboratively learning can indeed be fun!

About the second day
Following the day, Iti Joyce, the Accredited Facilitator, worked with Alan and the Across School Teachers team to analyse feedback from this hui.

Reflective comments, from teachers’ learnings included:

  • This is an exciting time to be a teacher in Matamata
  • I enjoyed reflecting on how we can be more culturally inclusive and responsive within our school and community.
  • Making relationships within the community and allowing students to share their identity and culture. Looking at what students bring to school in their experiences and prior knowledge.
  • Inclusiveness of our cultures/Mutual respect /Bicultural partnerships
  • The power of change when we come together as one. Now we know what we know, we have a moral imperative to change!
  • research shows involving parents in learning is the highest contributor to student achievement. I need to continually inform parents/whaanau about what my students are learning.

Follow on
This Kaahui Ako is currently working alongside Iti to gather evidence to ascertain the profile of pedagogy and the range of interventions across the Kaahui Ako. This evidence will inform multiple inquiry cycles across Kaahui Ako, where everyone is looking forward to accelerating learning and realising the potential of all learners within the Matamata community.

Submitted by Iti Joyce

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Matariki Celebrations at Ōtūmoetai College

Posted on 06 August, 2017ōtūmoetai-college

Celebration and tradition reinforcing identity

Ōtūmoetai College as a school is focused on ensuring that Māori learners enjoy and achieve success as Māori. As a part of this focus, the school celebrated Matariki last term. Kim Beaton, one of the teachers, recorded some of these events and captured some of the learning during this special time.

About Matariki
Matariki stars signal the beginning of the Māori New Year. Kim shares:

“ Ōtūmoetai College, we are looking for new ways to inspire and accelerate success for our Māori learners. Encouraging staff to link student learning to this cultural celebration aims to strengthen ties between all departments, year groups, staff, students, whānau and our wider community.

Matariki links from classroom learning to our school strategic intent and the New Zealand Curriculum documents. Celebration and tradition reinforce identity.

These photos, taken by Paul Furneaux, show our senior Horticulture students harvesting the produce to take to our neighbours Te Wharekura o Mauao - ready for the shared hangi and Matariki celebrations.”

Kim asked what Matariki meant to their Year 9 students, and here are some of their replies:

  • Matariki are very important stars to the Māori culture."
  • "I think learning about this is really cool and I will start to celebrate it now more with my family."
  • "Time to harvest crops, family get together, Māori New Year, Sacred Māori night."
  • "Matariki means, to me, a new start/beginning. We celebrate it by going up the Mount."
  • "Matariki means having friends and family over to celebrate."
  • "Seven stars."
  • "It means to have a family barbeque and to gather for a while."
  • "Matariki means to me: by celebrating with my family and having a talk and kai. Or else we would go up the Mount to look over the horizon.”

Kim continued

“... our vision is to support our kaupapa with ideas around food, fun, games and a kite day. Some of our Horticulture students have been learning about the forward planning involved in the preparation for Matariki, they planted these crops last year.”

We are proud to work alongside our community to revive, grow and celebrate this national time of family, friendship, reflection and planning. Together we may inspire and strengthen connections to culture. We strive to ensure the future is one of success and happiness, for all our young people.”

Submitted by Raewyn Ngaamo

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Thinking about Postgraduate or Master’s study?

Posted on 06 August, 2017

Exploring two masters papers

Leading the pedagogical growth and development of fellow leaders and teachers is an important role of middle and senior school leaders and a considerable responsibility.

This can also be a challenging task in light of the Ministry’s expectation that the professional learning and development that teachers experience be responsive to evidence of outcomes for students, have a theoretical basis, and is informed by research about ‘what we know works’ to accelerate learning.

The continued focus on strengthening biculturalism, accelerating the progress of priority learners and the promotion of leadership for equity and excellence within ERO’s Process Indicators are other systemic considerations that leaders need to be cognisant of, as they contemplate what professional learning and development they might seek themselves, in order to be well positioned to support the learning and development of others.

In recent years the previously mentioned developments in the education system have been the catalyst for middle and senior leaders to return to tertiary study and pursue Postgraduate diplomas and Master’s degrees.

About the University's Masters papers
At the University of Waikato we specifically offer two Master’s level papers (Level 8) that enable leaders to better understand and respond to a range of leadership challenges and responsibilities that are inherent in the current education system.

PROF523 (BTG) Māori Education Policies: Their Development and Some Strategic Responses
This is a C semester paper that is taught in the A semester from January-June.

The course begins with a two-day teaching block and is then taught online through Moodle. The course examines the historical and contemporary politics and practices that have contributed to the current education disparities that affect Māori people in particular, but also the wider fabric of New Zealand society. The paper then considers historical and contemporary policies developed to address these disparities and a number of programme responses that have ensued. Comments from previous participants included:

  • This paper provided me with a deepened, richer understanding of the history of New Zealand's educational policies and practices. It provided the knowledge and understanding, based in educational research and theory, that I needed to transform my teaching and leadership practice.It enabled me to theorise, reflect and improve my practice. I have become more deliberate and aware of my interactions, conversations and practice with students, whanau and colleagues. The high level of support given by the Poutama Pounamu team through the initial two day face to face hui, and through the Moodle meant that I always felt secure and on track, including with the aspects of academic reading and writing I was unsure of. I highly recommend this paper for all educators. (Primary school deputy principal)

PCSS502 (BTG) Kaupapa Māori Research

This paper is taught in the B semester from July-October.

The course also begins with a two-day teaching block and is then taught online through Moodle. This course explores Kaupapa Māori research theory and methodologies, and seeks to enable students to develop more informed and culturally responsive research practice. Consideration of culturally responsive research methodologies can support school leaders who are engaged in leadership inquiries that include a focus on priority learners and their families.

Some comments from previous participants:

  • This paper was the only paper that I did throughout my Master’s of Educational Leadership programme that actually enabled me to understand the challenges associated with reducing achievement disparities and more importantly what the solutions were. I was worried that expertise around te reo and tikanga Māori would be a problem because the paper was called Kaupapa Māori research but I found it was not a problem at all. (Primary school deputy principal)

  • I am so glad that I decided to do the Kaupapa Māori paper as it provided a very useful theoretical grounding and preparation for my Master’s research. This paper was different to others in that the culturally responsive and relational approach that was espoused was also modelled as way of being throughout the paper, making it a safe and unique experience. (Secondary school deputy principal)

Submitted by Therese Ford

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​Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards

Posted on 21 July, 2017

Celebrating the winners

The Poutama Pounamu team congratulates William Colenso College, which was recently awarded the Excellence in Leading award at the 2017 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards. William Colenso College was the only school in the country to be finalists in three out of the four possible categories for the awards.

The Excellence in Leading award was accepted from the Prime Minister by a full contingent of the leadership team at William Colenso College - their Head Girl, members of the Board of Trustees and the in-school senior leadership team.

William Colenso College demonstrates an approach to leadership that critically examines their professional practice to ensure equity, excellence and belonging for all. They focus on activating their collective potential to promote a climate of trust, mutual respect, open-mindedness and willingness to learn from each other.

For Daniel, leadership is about embracing the concept of tuakana teina and “acknowledging other people are coming to the table with all these skills and knowledge and background… that supports the team in going where you want to go… It’s about having everybody on the waka and then you’re much more powerful as a group.”

The educational community has also been the only school to be acknowledged by the Minister of Education for having improved NCEA results for four years in a row, particularly for their Māori students. Daniel believes, "it's about focusing on the difference you can make and not worrying about the things you can't change ... everyone's contribution adds up to one big achievement.”

The principal of William Colenso College, Daniel Murfitt, is also the leader of the Matariki Community of Learning. The Matariki Kāhui Ako embraces the following whakataukī, alongside their vision of maximising students outcomes through collaboration:

Kia kairangi te tū!
Striving for excellence together/collectively!

William Colenso College’s journey towards embedding and sustaining cultural relationships for responsive pedagogy began when they entered Te Kotahitanga as a Phase 5 school in 2009, then participating in Kia Eke Panuku from 2014. The College now works alongside an expert partner and accredited facilitator within Poutama Pounamu as part of the Matariki Community of Learning. For the seven schools within the Kāhui Ako, the seven stars of matariki represent a collective understanding of a new beginning and a celebration of what they hold.

The schools and principals in the Matariki Kāhui Ako are:

  • Henry Hill School - Jason Williams
  • Hukarere Girls’ College - Lelie Pearcey
  • Maraenui Bilingual School - Chris Worsley
  • Marewa School - Chris Meynall
  • Richmond School - Maurice Rehu
  • Te Aute College – Shane Hiha
  • Te Awa School - Tim Van Zyl
  • William Colenso College - Daniel Murfitt.

Submitted by Zac Anderson

Awards-related videos

  • The Prime Ministers Excellence in Education Awards videos can be viewed here.
  • The highlights package from the Awards night can be viewed here.

Associated videos

This earlier video highlights aspects of leadership at the College.

This video tells of the establishment of the Matariki Kāhui Ako.

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​Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards

Posted on 16 July, 2017

Celebrating the winners

Congratulations to Invercargill Middle School, winners of the Prime Minister’s Excellence in Teaching and Learning – Atatū Award.

This Award recognised how the staff have responded to the needs and potential of their diverse learners with an inclusive language programme that has increased students’ confidence and participation.

"We knew that oral language was a need for many students," said Deputy Principal Katie Pennicott, "and going back to the Treaty of Waitangi, there’s participating and power sharing, and sharing that power between each other.

We were thinking about how to change the classroom so that the classroom is not about the teacher talking but the students discussions between each other, and that’s where that came from.

So it’s about the children feeling empowered and having the power to run the conversations in the classroom, but they’re learning conversations, and having those talk moves helps them to start that conversation, maintain that conversation and keep it running.

We support them to disagree and agree with each other, in a polite way, in a respectful way, and in an empowering way.’"

Principal Stan Tiatia adds:

"It comes back to that expectation of participation, that expectation that you’ve got something to offer, that you are valuable, that you’ve got something valuable to give to other people and to share."

Submitted by Mere Berryman

Awards-related videos

  • The Prime Ministers Excellence in Education Awards videos can be viewed here.
  • The highlights package from the Awards night can be viewed here.

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Ngā Manu Korero – Te Tai Tokerau Competition

Posted on 13 July, 2017ā-manu-korero-te-tai-tokerau-competition

Dawn Lawrence reflects on her experience at Ngā Manu Kōrero

This year, Thomaseena Paul and Otamatea High School privileged me with an invitation to be a kaiwhakawā in the English section of the Te Tai Tokerau Ngā Manu Kōrero. I wish to begin by thanking them.


For the last eight years I have worked to support Kura Auraki (English medium schooling) to create contexts in which Māori students can stand firm in their identity, language and culture, but the nature of the contracts under which this mahi has been undertaken has meant that Ngā Manu Korero has always sat outside what I have been able to connect with or focus on.

For me, it had always been something that happened ‘over there’, led by people other than the teachers and school leaders I worked with and to be honest, that is about as much thought as I gave to it.

A colleague recently challenged me on this, suggesting I had much to learn about Māori succeeding as Māori if I did not see the connection and importance of Ngā Manu Korero to our professional development work. As is often the way when there is something important for you to learn, a teacher will appear – in this case in the form of this invitation.

The experience

I learnt many things from this experience but there are perhaps two key things I came away having ‘felt’.

Firstly, I breathed in a cultural context that was determined by te reo me ōna tikanga Māori but physically located in a ‘western’ context - a school hall in a mainstream secondary school.

I heard the possibilities of a truly bi-cultural partnership in the voices and the silences of that space over those two days. A partnership in which the harmonies created through the strength of our combined voices can create a society in which we all flourish.

Secondly, the importance of kanohi kitea.

This concept has been part of professional development conversations I have had, but from the far end of the judging line in the draft of the door, I felt its importance. I may have been in the building, I may have been on the judging panel but there my place both began and ended.

And that is an important lesson for those of us who carry a sense of entitlement to claim space and to speak.

The competition categories

The event itself was awesome! Twenty-one schools were represented by speakers in four categories:

  • Te Himi Henare (bilingual)
  • Tā Turi Kara (junior Māori)
  • Rāwhiti Ihaka (junior Māori) Korimako (senior English)
  • Pei Te Hurinui Jones (senior Māori).

Acknowledgement must go to all of the speakers, their whānau, and kaiako; and congratulations to all of the winners:


Te Himi Henare

Unique to Te Tai Tokerau this section was first included in the June of 1990 at Otiria Marae, and is a memorial to Sir James Henare. Annette Ross was the inaugural winner of Te Timi Henare. The greenstone taonga that is now around the neck of Te Himi Henare was placed there on the passing of Dame Whina Cooper in 1994 at the request of her people. (Facebook)

  • Te Aroha Pawa – Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Pukemiro (3rd)
  • Waimahana Henare – Te Kāpehu Whatū (2nd)
  • Kareriera Komene - Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rāwhitiroa (1st)


  • Phoenix Henare-Clark – Northland College (3rd)
  • Ebony Smythe – Rodney College (2nd)
  • Tasha Perrett - Te Kāpehu Whetū (1st)

Pei Te Hurinui Jones

  • Kiritopa Allen – Te Kāpehu Whetū (3rd)
  • Julius Reihana - Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rangi Āniwaniwa (2nd)
  • Kuao Moore - Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rāwhitiroa (1st)

Tā Turi Kara

  • Skyla Cloey Anderson-Wynn – Pompallier Catholic College (3rd)
  • Rehutai Kingi – Kerikeri High School (2nd)
  • Shallen Desmond - Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Pukemiro (1st)

Rāwhiti Ihaka

  • Kahurangi Hauraki - Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe (3rd)
  • Hirini Greaves - Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rangi Āniwaniwa (2nd)
  • Fleurnik Raui – Te Kura Takiwā o Taipā (1st)

Good luck and best wishes to all of you who will represent your whānau, your kura and Te Tai Tokerau at the national competition at the TSB Stadium, New Plymouth 20 – 22 September 2017.

Ngā mihi Dawn Lawrence

For other pieces Dawn has written:

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Matariki drives discovery

Posted on 21 February, 2017


Napier’s Matariki Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako is lifting student achievement in Science across the community. Senior students from Hukerere Girls College and William Colenso College have been learning with primary students from their partner schools.

The principles of tuakana-teina were clearly evident as the students rotated through a series of experiments designed to illustrate the chemistry behind changing states of matter.

Fiona Craven, Across-schools Teacher (Science), was impressed by how much all the students gained from working together.

“It was wonderful to see how quickly the students assumed their reciprocal roles. The younger students were respectful of the older students while the older students were stretched to describe things like oxidation and reduction in ways that could be grasped by younger minds. Over the afternoon I saw the questions posed change from ‘Which flame is prettier?’ to ‘Why do you think it’s a different colour?' 'What might be happening?’"

Matariki’s distributed leadership model means each of the seven principals leads an achievement goal. Chris Meynell of Marewa Primary School has responsibility for Science.

“If we can change the children’s perception of Science at primary level, then we are onto a winner in terms of getting those kids to experience success in what is a national priority. It’s a goal for us to look at what we can develop in the primary setting so that they are ready and more engaged in Science at the secondary level”

Across the community there is structured and frequent engagement between the principals, their respective boards of trustees, and teachers - something Chris believes is already delivering benefits.

“One of the features that I’ve found has been the opening up of each other’s schools, There are now relationships between teachers across schools where they can go and visit each other and see each other’s practice and work together.”

“What really binds us together is the absolute belief that our kids can achieve great things.”

The Matariki Community of Learning/Kāhui Ako consists of the following member schools:

  • Henry Hill Primary School
  • Hukarere Māori Girls College
  • Maraenui Bilingual School
  • Marewa Primary School
  • Richmond Primary School
  • Te Awa Primary School
  • William Colenso College
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Mere Berryman honoured

Posted on 14 November, 2015

Finalist in Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Award

(Photo: Morehu Ngatoko with Mere Berryman at Huria marae.)

Mere Berryman is a finalist for the 2017 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year. The Poutama Pounamu Director has spent most of her career working to lift Māori educational achievement.

Mere, who was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit last year, says she was humbled to have been nominated for New Zealander of the Year, and to have made the final three has left her feeling extremely privileged.

Chief judge Cameron Bennett says courage is the word that defines these exceptional Kiwis. “It’s the courage they’ve shown to advocate for their fellow Kiwis living on the margins, the courage to take our story to the world, the courage to lead. They’ve done this in typical Kiwi fashion – with humility, decency and fairness.”

Watch New Zealander of the Year finalist/Mere Berryman.

Mere has demonstrated this courage by working ceaselessly with teachers throughout her career to advocate for Māori learners. Read more

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