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

Ruia case studies: Examples of the principles in practice


As part of the Ruia development process, whānau members, teachers, and leaders at eight schools were interviewed about how the schools have built relationships with whānau that have contributed to supporting Māori students to be successful.

The findings from this exploratory work were checked for how they aligned with principles of effective school–whānau relationships identified from research.

in addition, the findings were grouped into seven themes:

Interviews with whānau members, teachers, and leaders showed that in schools where successful relationships with whānau exist, the themes are evident.

You can read about the the themes and what successful schools are doing to embrace the theme.


What successful schools are doing


  • Māori students are going to “be someone”.
  • Whānau can support their children’s learning and can understand educational practices (such as how to interrogate data).
  • The beliefs are followed up by action to ensure that students can succeed and that whānau can fully participate in supporting their children’s learning.


  • The engagement with whānau is purposeful and relentlessly focused on student learning.
  • Teachers and school leaders learn from the community.

Ongoing and embedded processes

  • Processes for reporting to whānau and for obtaining whānau feedback are an integrated part of the school’s regular activities.
  • The relationship is deliberately and explicitly supported (for example, through formally appointing a suitable staff member to take the lead).
  • Ongoing opportunities for whānau and iwi learning are evident.


  • School principals and other school leaders actively participate in and plan for relationship building.
  • When leadership within relationship building is distributed, school leaders support those with that responsibility and include them in decision making.


  • Parents and whānau are partners in curriculum development.
  • The school curriculum is localised and builds on the knowledge of parents, whānau, hapū, and iwi.
  • Teachers and school leaders actively check to ensure that local hapū and iwi are reflected in the school environment.
  • Both the curriculum and the wider school environment contribute to building a sense of belonging and community in students.


  • Schools listen to what parents and whānau have to say.
  • Honesty and frankness so that all partners feel that they can trust each other are present.
  • The honesty includes sharing both good and bad data and information.
  • The processes for engagement are parent and whānau-friendly, including the selection of times, approaches, and venues for engagement.
  • At times, teachers and school leaders go out into the community.
  • The community cares for and is protective of their school and their teachers.
  • No divide between school and whānau exists.

Inclusion of students

  • Teachers build strong teaching and learning relationships with students that provide a pathway to building such relationships with whānau and iwi.

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