Ngā hononga kura-whānau e puta ai ngā ihu o ngā ākonga Māori

Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Waiū o Ngāti Porou

Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Waiū o Ngāti Porou is a well-respected wharekura on the east coast of the North Island. Its current principal led the breakaway of the kura from the local primary school in the early 1990s. He was interviewed for Ruia, as was a teacher of four years and a parent who has been part of the Te Waiū whānau for 13 years.

Wananga Reo_Pakeke_Tamariki2
What are the priorities for our Māori students?

All three interviewees agreed that high expectations, consistency, responsibility, and accountability are required for Te Waiū students to achieve educational success as Māori. This means students realising their aspirations and leading their lives in the context of a world view that is strongly based on the principles of Ngāti Porou and Te Aho Matua. Students should have a cultural perspective on relationships that fosters their awareness of their role as contributors to society.

The interviewees believe students should leave Te Waiū with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in whatever they want to do. If students do not have the skills they need to reach their potential, then it is the kura that has failed. The tumuaki says that the responsibilities of the kura include challenging students beyond their paradigm of thinking and ‘opening doors’ to other realities to ensure its students aim high.

What are our own learning needs?

The kura has been in existence for twenty years, and the tumuaki and staff recognise that a new generation of parents are coming through the kura. The original whānau began with a shared understanding of why they were setting up the kura and a shared commitment to overcome the challenges this involved. The new generation of parents were not part of this struggle and therefore come to the kura with a different background and perspective – the kura has always been there. The changing profile of the whānau requires the staff to understand how to connect with the new whānau members while maintaining the intergrity of the kaupapa of the kura.

Planning and participating in partnership learning

This kura has a strong work ethic that encompasses teachers and students. It also has a strong belief in the importance of whānau involvement. One way in which this was exemplified was around homework, which is constantly monitored by the staff. One of the teachers carried out a survey to identify the kind of support in the home, whether there was easy access to resources (such as to the Internet and library), how involved parents would be, and how much guidance whānau could provide.

Partnership actions: connecting and collaborating

The care and support for students at Te Waiū is a lifelong commitment. One student showed all the hallmarks of becoming a negative statistic. Straight talking turned this around. His parent was asked to:

  • ensure the child got to school each day
  • support the child to complete homework.

The kura support for this student did not end at year 13. When the student had some difficulties in coping with university life, other Te Waiū graduates informed kura staff, who then had a conversation with the university liaison person. As a result, changes were put in place to support the student.

At least three times a year, wānanga are held where pakeke (elders) are given a topic to speak on and the students capture this history on video. Having pakeke from different parts of the rohe is seen as an important strategy in exposing students to quality reo and a range of dialect and mita (speech patterns).

Whānau hui are held once a month. Most agenda items are derived from the principal’s monthly report to the whānau. They include a focus on student achievement. The principal knows there is high trust due to the nature of the questions and the range of issues raised.

The kura holds planning hui each term at which it decides what will be assessed and how it will be assessed. Whānau are informed of what will be covered in the term’s reports, and at the end of each term they receive a report on staff achievement against the goals that were set at the beginning of the term.

Features of the reporting system:

  • Every term, parents receive written reports that are focused on the achievement objectives decided at the term planning hui.
  • In term 3, there are face-to-face meetings where students’ test results and portfolios are shared.
  • Students know what they have to do based on a 1–5 system, and they are aware of how they can progress to the next level.
  • There is close monitoring and ongoing opportunity for parents to discuss student progress.
  • Many assessment techniques are designed by the principal.
  • An Excel programme designed by the principal is used to analyse results and guide staff where to apply a sharper focus.
  • Pre-tests and post-tests are completed, and additional resources are sought as required.
  • All reports go out in te reo Māori and while some parents don’t understand the words, they understand the numbers.
What has been the impact of our changed ways of working?

The parent interviewee at Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Waiū stated that the kura’s open door policy encourages whānau involvement. For example, a parent who began as a teacher aide went on to train as a teacher when their child finished in year 13. And for homework, the initial findings of a survey were that 50 percent of whānau had the capability to support their students. By the end of the term, 80 percent were able to capably support students, and this grew to 90 percent in less than 12 months. The teacher organising the survey believed this was because he had clearly explained his intentions and followed up with support as required.

The interviewees feel that the ongoing encouragement from staff and the building of a Puna Reo (Māori language nest) onsite will capture parent interest early and increase their involvement in the kura. 

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