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Te Kauhua Phase 2 Summary report of the Te Kauhua Māori Mainstream Project

by Cathie Bull, project co-facilitator

In the final term of Phase 2, the six participating schools (Cobden Primary School, Selwyn Primary, Henderson Intermediate, Devon Intermediate, Awatapu College and Kaipara College) report significant staff engagement with the project aims to tackle Māori student achievement in mainstream schools, and as action researchers within their schools.

The basic principles of Te Kauhua include:

  • the establishment of meaningful relationships with the Māori community to develop and implement shared visions for raising Māori student achievement
  • ongoing professional development for teacher facilitators (who work full-time in their schools) and for teaching staff within the schools
  • on-site action research.

The professional development for facilitators is delivered through training hui. A total of five national hui for facilitators, principals and other key staff have now been held, comprising 14 days of presentations and workshops, the final one-day hui being scheduled for November 2005. In addition, two facilitator-only hui, in October 2004 and February 2005 provided specific time to focus on the relationship between managing complex change within a school community and practitioner action research.

Presentations and workshops have included:

  • what we have learnt from the pilot (Te Kauhua phase 1)
  • building partnerships with Māori communities and the staff
  • kaupapa Māori themes
  • principal leadership
  • productive dialogue and conflict resolution
  • effective change management
  • collaborative practitioner research methodologies
  • using the Te Mana Kōrero videos for staff professional development
  • building professional development around core values, beliefs and attitudes
  • sustaining change
  • professional reading sessions
  • developing learning communities.

From hui two on, each school has shared its successes and challenges (and the strategies employed to address challenges) with the wider group. In this way the hui participants have themselves become a cooperative and collaborative learning community – the Te Kauhua whānau.

While still exploratory in nature, key lessons from Phase 1 have guided some of the initiatives. For example, the collection of both student and teacher voices through surveys and interviews, the involvement of school and community resource people and in setting out agreed measures of success. Baseline and ongoing data collection relating to student behaviour, student academic achievement and student aspirations contribute to these success indicators.

Common themes


A substantial amount of socio-cultural activity has occurred within school communities. All the participating schools have incorporated Māori cultural icons into their school environment and provided professional development for staff in Māori language and tikanga and in gaining some understanding of te ao Māori, with the aim of producing teachers who acknowledge the values, prior experiences and cultural knowledge of their students (culturally-responsive teachers).

Some schools have held noho marae, where staff and board of trustee members have learned about local Māori history, traditions and values in an environment where they are the learners instead of the experts. Knowledge gained in a range of settings has enhanced teachers' desire and ability to encourage awareness and pride in Māori identity. Both teachers and students are using te reo Māori in the classroom with greater confidence and accuracy.

Some schools have been able to tap into the wisdom and knowledge held by kaumatua, inviting them into the school to help develop and enhance learning through their experience and understanding of culture and history. Awareness and pride in the local area has been fostered through such learning both in and out of the classroom.

Willingness to look at alternative ways of operating, such as the use of restorative justice in some schools has helped to reduce stand-downs and suspensions, and retain students in school to improve their educational opportunities.

In almost every school, kapa haka has flourished, as students and families celebrate Māori performing arts. Both Māori and non-Māori students are enthusiastic participants, with families appreciating opportunities to see their children displaying skill and enjoyment in this form of cultural expression.

Whānau engagement

Whānau engagement continues to play a major role in the Te Kauhua journey of most schools. This ranges from, for example, parent involvement in classrooms, to music or kapa haka support, board of trustees' representation, attendance and input at home-school liaison meetings and/or input into data-gathering initiatives.

Professional learning communities

There is evidence of a growing climate of critically reflective practice amongst facilitators. Professional learning communities are developing across the Te Kauhua schools as teachers share professional readings, engage in focused discussion about student specific data, and trial strategies for addressing areas of need. Teachers are keeping journals to record their action research journeys, and are more focused on evidence-based professional development interventions.

Action research

Facilitators are continuing six weekly cycles of action research planning, implementation, and reporting. Each cycle is accompanied by pre-, mid- and post-intervention data. The first cycles of action research in 2005 were based upon relationship building, in five of the six schools. Student, teacher, and parent questionnaire data showed that relationships were an area requiring attention. However, schools are now effecting progressive shifts towards pedagogically-based professional development focused on enhanced academic outcomes for Māori. Foci now include, for example, feedback and feed forward; literacy programme development, and questioning skill development.

The action research is supported by regular interaction with project co-facilitator Dr Ruth Gorinski.

Looking ahead

At this stage of the project, sustainability is a key factor in schools' long-term planning. Some of the recommendations suggested or already occurring in schools are:

  • making Te Kauhua part of the culture of the school by integrating it into school policies and strategic plans
  • fostering internal leadership capability
  • utilising internal experts, sharing knowledge, so that all the information does not reside in too few people
  • induction for all new staff so that there is a shared and common understanding of expectations around Māori student achievement
  • ensuring that teachers have time to make things happen
  • incorporating Te Kauhua goals into the appraisal system
  • building professional learning communities within schools, supported by professional readings and critical friend/mentoring relationships.

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