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

Reviewing the impact of changes: What it might look like


This section includes video clips that illustrate and emphasise the importance of making culture count.

You will also find excerpts from case studies of several schools that participated in the Ruia exploratory study. (A link to the full case study is provided at the end of each excerpt.)

In addition, Hamilton Girls' High School provides an extract from a Rangiātea case study with links to the Rangiātea website.

The Rangiātea project consists of case studies and exemplars from five secondary schools, each of them on a journey towards realising Māori student potential.

The case studies look at the strategies the school leadership team used and report on the key factors that contributed to lifting Māori student achievement.

Te Mana Kōrero: Relationships for Learning

Te Mana Kōrero includes scenes that provide the perspectives of a range of experts: whānau, teachers, principals, and other educators.

The quotes in the table below are intended as tasters of some of the rich insights shared by these experts.

Some of the scenes provide examples of effective whānau–school relationships in practice.




Culture counts 1

Julie Mclaughlin (Pākehā teacher, Tolaga Bay School) found that her students achieved better results when she selected meaningful topics that enabled them to bring their culture to the classroom.

“The most profound way to create a culturally responsive context is through introducing co-construction, where the child or the student or the learner is free to bring their own experiences into the classroom context.” – Robbie Lamont, Facilitator, Kerikeri High School

Culture counts 2

Teachers at other schools have had similar success when they have brought a Māori perspective to classroom learning.

Many have found it valuable to invite in community experts.

“It’s always going to need community participation because some of the experts that are needed to convey this learning – to provide the knowledge – are going to be in that community. Teachers are not going to have it. Teachers will have certain kinds of knowledge which they are expert in, and that’s part of their training and part of their experiences, but communities belong to the people that are there, and they are the best ones to provide that connection.” –Wally Penetito


The risks

Educators discuss some potential pitfalls.

“The risks are that you don’t keep the ongoing dialogue and reviewing of how the relationship is going.” –Keriana Tawhiwhirangi


Waverley Park School

Waverley Park School is a decile 5, year 0–6 suburban school with 255 pupils, of whom a third are Māori. Four people were interviewed for Ruia: the principal, the teacher who leads the whānau group, and two parents.

At Waverley Park School, the whānau group, invited to take part in all the new activities, offered an overwhelming response.

Over time, the lead teacher introduced a variety of issues to the group.

As a result, the group is becoming increasingly knowledgeable about educational issues and equipped to evaluate the effect of changes and new initiatives.

The whānau group now meets at least once a term, with a core of about 24 whānau members consistently turning up. Sometimes that number increases to as many as 60 families.

The interviewees say that they now have a community of partnership, characterised by mutual respect, honesty, and commitment to the children.

Many of the 160 children in the kapa haka group are Pākehā; thus, many of the people who regularly support the whānau group with making costumes and assisting with travel and kai are Pākehā.

The whānau group is by far the most heavily supported initiative in the school, and it contributes regularly to reviewing progress.

The interviewees all say that they have no needs in the area of whānau engagement at the moment.

Read the full Waverly Park Ruia case study. 

Randwick School

Randwick School is a decile 3, year 0–8 suburban school with 207 students, of whom nearly half are Māori. The principal, teacher, and parent/BOT member asked to be interviewed together for Ruia, reflecting the way they usually work.

Twenty-five Māori families came to a meeting where the principal helped the parents interpret achievement data and prepare for the parent–teacher interviews.

The meeting was followed by a 97 percent turnout to the interviews, which is the most the school has ever seen.

All the interviewees agreed that the meeting lifted the quality of the interactions during the parent–teacher interviews that followed. The growth in the parents’ knowledge and understandings around the use of data and evidence made the interviews more meaningful for teachers, students, and parents, and the resulting goals for students were more meaningful and achievable.

The parent told the Ruia interviewer that she felt really empowered by this experience and that it was the best parent–teacher interview that she has ever had. This sentiment was echoed by the teacher.

The principal concurred but also said that she needs to keep working on engaging with whānau because she wasn’t able to reach as many people as she had hoped.

Read the full Randwick School Ruia case study. 

Sylvia Park School

Sylvia Park School is a decile 2 suburban school with a diverse student population of 320. Around a quarter of the students are Māori, and over half are Pasifika. Ruia’s interviewer met with the principal, two teachers (the teacher in the bilingual unit and the teacher who is the project manager of the parents’ centre), and a parent.

Sylvia Park School constantly reviews its success in terms of the impact on student outcomes, and its Mutukaroa initiative is no exception.

Careful records of the project’s impact on student achievement are kept. This means tracking student progress while also inquiring into the partnership’s impact on parents and whānau. As well as the in-school inquiry into the partnership, the school is participating in an external evaluation conducted by the University of Auckland.

The school constantly asks parents what they want from this partnership.

One way of doing this is by asking parents to fill in an evaluation form after each meeting.

Feedback from parents indicates that they like the dedicated time to really understand the assessment and know where to focus their support. Both of the interviewed teachers noticed that parents are now more confident, and the focus is now to build parent knowledge to ensure an equal partnership in discussions about their children’s learning.

Despite the enthusiasm expressed for this initiative, the principal is clear that this is early days and that they don’t yet know everything. The school needs to constantly look for ways to improve their relationships with parents in alignment with the school’s strategic goals.

Read the full Sylvia Park Ruia case study. 

Ōpōtiki College

Ōpōtiki College is a state secondary school in the Bay of Plenty. Over 80 percent of the students are Māori. The school is a participant in the Te Kotahitanga project. The principal, a teacher who is the school’s Te Kotahitanga facilitator, and a parent were interviewed for the Ruia project.

Ōpōtiki College's restorative justice programme has been credited with the fact that there have been zero student suspensions since 2006. The implementation of Te Kotahitanga and an effective appraisal system, along with a focus on whānau engagement, have all contributed to improved NCEA results.

Over the past four years, only six students have left the school without qualifications after four years’ secondary education, with no student doing so in 2010.

This success is described in greater detail in the Rangiātea: Ōpōtiki College.

Over time, an increasing number of parents have attended the Senior Prizegiving for students graduating from year 13, often for the first time. They have been impressed with the students’ achievements, and many have said they regretted not attending every year.

Because of feedback from the parents, the school now runs an Academic Celebration early in term 1 in front of the whole school.

The principal believes that parents are empowered when they see him responding to their questions and comments by making visible changes in the school.

The interviewed teacher and parent praised him for the way he engages with whānau.

However, the parent had thoughts about areas for improvement. For example, she felt that all staff should learn about the various hapū in Whakatōhea and weave this local knowledge into student learning. She also wanted studies on local heroes rather than European heads of state and would like to see greater use of the local resources and environment.

The principal agrees and has begun what is intended to be a regular practice of taking staff on a full-day hikoi to the local museum and marae. This way they can explore local stories and gain a greater appreciation of the various hapū before the start of each school year. Using local heroes is an area the school would like to develop further.

The facilitator added that it was important to hear parent stories about their own school experiences so teachers could better understand why whānau do not readily participate in their children’s learning. This is another area for future inquiry.

Read the full Ōpōtiki College Ruia case study. 

Te Ara Whānui Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Kōhanga Reo o Te Awa Kairangi

Te Ara Whānui is a decile 3 kura in Lower Hutt, with students in years 1–10. Four people were interviewed for Ruia: the tumuaki, the deputy principal, a senior teacher, and a parent.

Almost all members of the kura whānau attended the most recent goal-setting session.

If whānau do not attend these sessions, the tumuaki makes it her responsibility to contact them and find out the reason for this. Whānau are often offered an alternative time to discuss the learning of their tamaiti.

Feedback is sought from whānau face to face, by email, or by phone. Where feedback indicates concern, the tumuaki arranges a meeting with whānau. Student profiles are also critiqued with input from whānau, students, and kaimahi (members of staff).

The attendance of the community and public service representatives at the goal-setting hui has contributed to the development of relationships with those providers.

The tumuaki said, “This all contributes to the well-being of our tamariki and whānau.”

Read the full Te Ara Whānui Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Kōhanga Reo o Te Awa Kairanigi Ruia case study. 

Aorangi School

Aorangi School is a decile 2, year 0–6 school in Rotorua. It has 140 students, 88 percent of whom are Māori. The principal, deputy principal, and a parent were interviewed for Ruia.

The principal describes the school's student-led conferences as one of the most successful community engagement initiatives that the school has used.

The interviewed parent also said that the conferences were an effective way to engage with teachers about his children’s achievement. They agree that the conferences work because they are completely led by the student and parents in a process that redistributes power to them, away from the teacher.

The parents respond to their children in a very focused and loving way about their achievement. The school has kept data on how many parents responded to the parent-led conferences. For example, at the end of 2009, 72 percent of parents came to conferences, and 100 percent of those parents wrote letters and made certificates in response to their children’s achievement books.

The interviewees told Ruia that they have seen an improvement in student behaviour and that according to their data students’ reading and writing achievement has also improved. They ascribe these improvements in part to the student-led conferences.

Student feedback corroborates this:

  • Student 1 – “Our parents can see exactly what we are doing at school. They can help us at home.”
  • Student 2 – “Our assessments in our Achievement Book have a learning goal and the success criteria, and our parents can see what we are not so good at. We talk about this.”
  • Student 3 – “It helps our parents know what we are doing and how they can help us with our learning.” 
  • Student 4 – “We can share what we have been doing with our family, and if we are not doing so well, they can help us. Or if we are doing really well, they can support us.”  
  • Student 5 – “If you have bad behaviour, your parents can support you and help you change your behaviour to a positive."

An increasing number of parents and whānau are supporting school activities and offering to assist with coaching and fundraising. The school hopes that other strategies, such as participation in the Reading Together and Toolbox parenting programmes, will help deepen the growing partnership.

Read the full Aorangi Ruia case study. 

Hamilton Girls' High School

A Rangiātea project school

Ongoing monitoring of impact drives change and improvement at Hamilton Girls’ High School. It is often stated that what’s good for Māori is good for all students.

The Rangiātea Hamilton Girls' High School describes how three initiatives that have successfully supported Māori students to achieve educational success as Māori have been extended to include all students.

In the words of a teacher: “A Māori model is leading the way.”

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