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

About this website

Mō tēnei rauemi

This Ruia website has been developed for school leaders and teachers. It supports government policies and is based on evidence from research and practice.


Ruia is linked to two other initiatives designed to support leaders to improve outcomes for their Māori students:

  • Rangiātea (exemplars and case studies)
  • He Kākano (a national professional development programme for English-medium secondary and area schools).

School leaders, and especially principals, have always had a key role in shaping the relationships between school, whānau, and communities. Research shows that the kinds of relationships that are forged can have a significant effect on the outcomes for students.

  • Educationally powerful partnerships change what happens in classrooms.
  • School–whānau relationships that are deliberately nurtured help Māori learners achieve success.
  • Ongoing cycles of inquiry focused on building partnerships promote student learning in and outside of school.

This website will be effective only when used collaboratively with whānau representatives, including members of boards of trustees and kaumātua.

School leaders can share the website with whānau and the local community and go on to share decision making about its use.

Teachers can use this website to help them work in partnership with whānau to support the learning of Māori students.

Ruia is a response to statistics, policy, and research

Ruia is a response to the persistent statistics showing that not enough Māori students are getting the opportunities they need to achieve educational success and participate confidently and actively in the world beyond.

Educators in all parts of the system share the responsibility for addressing this issue as a matter of urgency. Ruia has a direct and serious focus on improving outcomes for Māori students.

Ruia is also a response to messages from policy and research.

The Ministry of Education’s policy for Māori students is described in Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008–2012

Ka Hikitia’s strategic intent is for Māori to enjoy education success as Māori. This means:

having an education system that provides all Māori learners with the opportunity to get what they require to realise their own unique potential and succeed in their lives as Māori.

page 18

One of Ka Hikitia’s five levers for achieving this intent is “increasing whānau and iwi authority and involvement in education”.

Research shows that currently, the educational potential of school–whānau relationships is often not realised.

Ruia is based on research evidence about the qualities of school–whānau relationships that make a real difference to the education outcomes achieved by Māori students.

Ruia shows how schools can build partnerships with whānau that are clearly focused on student learning.

Ruia is a smart tool

Smart tools are those that “assist the users to achieve the intended purposes … They incorporate sound theories, and are well-designed” (School Leadership and Student Outcomes BES, page 133). Smart tools embrace:

  • principles of effective practice
  • the user’s actual practice in relation to a particular task
  • review and improvement of that practice.

The design of this website as a smart tool helps users to:

  • understand the beliefs and assumptions that underpin their own practice
  • understand the principles and theory behind effective practice
  • review their practice by monitoring its impact on students 
  • build new knowledge and skills aligned to their own and their students’ needs
  • continuously improve their practice and understand what their next steps should be.

Ruia and cycles of inquiry

Teacher an inquiry and knowledge-building cycle for educationally powerful partnerships – Ruia website is organised around this

Users will take an inquiry approach, working through a planned cycle of inquiry focused on an issue that has been identified as a priority for furthering Māori student achievement. 

An inquiry approach means that users look for evidence and question their assumptions. They reflect on what it is that they do and do not know.

This process is a personal matter. Individuals have to reflect on themselves and on the impact of their words and actions on others.

The process also involves inquiring alongside others who share the same interests and concerns.

Case studies: Successful school-whānau connections

Research shows that many schools struggle to build genuine two-way partnerships with their students’ whānau.

Many other New Zealand schools are already engaging successfully with whānau in ways that make a real difference for their Māori students.

A common feature of these schools is that they are committed to self-review and inquiry.

Teachers and in-school leaders are prepared to be vulnerable and to question their own beliefs and assumptions. They learn from their community, and they respond to what they learn.

This Ruia website draws on the experience of schools that have developed successful school–whānau connections.

Full Ruia case studies show examples of what these schools are doing to build educationally powerful partnerships between school and whānau. 

Ruia's development process

Ruia was commissioned by the Ministry of Education. The Ruia project reference group included policy makers, researchers, teacher educators, and materials developers:

  • Lead consultants: Claire Sinnema (Auckland) and Margie Hohepa (The University of Waikato)
  • Developers: Keriana Tawhiwhirangi (Tolaga Bay) and Cherry Bertanees (Dunedin)
  • Consultants: Elizabeth McKinley and Helen Timperley (The University of Auckland), Carolyn English and Pauline Waiti (Learning Media)
  • Ministry of Education representatives: Linda Stockham, Rawiri Gibson, and Cheree Shortland-Nuku
  • Principal writer: Kate Dreaver

The purpose of the group was to develop resources for school leaders to contribute to the goal of educational success for Māori as Māori. 

The reference group started by looking at what has been shown to work in making a difference to Māori student achievement.

The group wanted to know more about what was going on in schools in which Māori students were achieving success.

Two members of the group went out into schools and interviewed school leaders, teachers, and parents. This experience, often profoundly moving, added considerably to the reference group’s understandings about effective school–whānau relationships and teacher appraisal.

The group would like to acknowledge the contribution of these wise and passionate parents, teachers, and leaders.

The group’s next task was to draw together the evidence from research and the Ruia reference group’s own inquiry to shape up the resources. The challenge was to create resources that would achieve their purpose, would not duplicate others, and would align with schools’ existing processes and practices.

The group went to the literature about ‘smart tools’ to ensure that the resources would meet those criteria.

An initial draft was then refined over time through iterative feedback from the reference group and through evaluation by a group of school leaders.

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