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Increased te reo Māori in mainstream schools

Improving the nature and quality of existing and future relationships between iwi and the Ministry is essential to realising the Ministry’s strategic outcome, ‘Māori achieving education success as Māori’. (Whakapūmautia, Papakōwhaitia, Tau Ana)

In 2015, Te Reo Māori in English Medium PLD providers supported teachers and leaders in English-medium schools to develop an understanding and awareness of te reo Māori and te ao Māori. Facilitators have supported teachers through in-class modelling, observations, coaching in the use of te reo Māori as well as the effective teaching of te reo Māori in classroom settings. 

A primary focus has been about raising awareness by English medium about the importance of a relationships with tangata whenua. Teachers have been challenged to think about their teaching practice, their relationships and interactions with Māori students, their whānau (and the wider community) to help raise achievement outcomes for students learning te reo Māori as a second language.

Who was better off?

While 87% of kaiako and leaders reported they had increased knowledge and confidence to use Te Aho Arataki Marau and NCEA Te Reo Māori, they also noted significant improvement in the confidence to use te reo Māori in their classroom or school (94%). There was also reported an 86% increase use of te reo Māori by their students. The following graphs indicate shifts 'prior to' and 'post' PLD intervention using the quality indicator scale (QIS).**

                                            English medium Te reo graph     English medium Pangarau graph English medium QIS scale

Leadership has become more proactive to support ongoing focus and development in schools.

                                            English medium Tumuaki graph      English medium Assessment graph English medium QIS scale

Teachers have also demonstrated an ability to use local knowledge, leveraging relationships and resources from the wider community to help students connect with their own identity (pepeha). 

Challenges recognised

To support student achievement and success of te reo Māori at secondary school, students must have stronger grounding in te reo Māori by the end of Year 8. Year 1-8 teachers must extend te reo Māori programmes beyond Level 1 and 2 of Te Aho Arataki Marau. Other challenges English Medium schools have identified include:

  • limited levels of ability in te reo Māori means elevated progress happens over a longer period of time
  • limited delivery in te reo Māori in marautanga development.


Strengthening Relationships at Puahue Primary School: This example of practice took place in an English Medium setting, in a rural environment. The Principal, Scott Wilson requested support with establishing an affiliation with their local marae as he was unsure how to begin a respectful and positive relationship with the tangata whenua, after a long history of disconnectedness. From these discussions we were able to identify areas for development and formulate an action plan with set timeframes. The PLD for staff focused on teaching a second language methodology, preparing teachers and students for a formal welcome - mihi whakatau. The event was a positive experience for all. Local kawa was observed and tangata whenua during their whaikorero acknowledged the students, staff and Principal for the warm welcome and respect shown for local customs. The following year, tangata whenua invited staff and students to the local marae. Local kawa was again observed, stories of the Marae, whenua, rangatira and people were shared. These rich, authentic experiences will lead to a shift in perspectives of places and people. 

A sustainable practice that can be embedded school-wide for years to come. The strengthening of ties between local iwi and school communities can be a challenging space to navigate. However, encouraging teachers to learn more about their communities will also help shift the lens on to what else can be valued in education.

Where to from here?

New kinds of partnerships for future-oriented partnerships will continue to be a key theme as schools are supported to understand and realise the benefits of connecting with tangata whenua and iwi. Another area identified for further development is, improving kaiako knowledge to assess students' learning of te reo Māori.

PLD providers intend to utilise blended platforms in 2016, to complement in-school engagements and encourage collaboration between school communities.

On reflection

Identity, language and culture are essential building blocks in a platform for education success. In a Māori context, iwi are the repositories and experts in these areas. They are key guardians, contributors and sources of knowledge and expertise in terms of providing this platform and facilitating education success and responding to the needs, interests and aspirations of their tribal affiliates. (Whakapūmautia, Papakōwhaitia, Tau Ana)

** Māori medium PLD projects use a quality indicator scale (QIS) which supports an overall judgment about shifts and changes in relation to the identified SMART outcomes for each school.

For more information about this project visit the Te reo Māori in English-medium Schools Professional Learning and Development project page or contact Charles Rolleston.