Deliberate acts of leadership

Published: 13 Jun 2017
Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua


Any parent who has sat through a series of prize-givings, over a few years, would have noticed a steady shift in what is normal.

A school principal talks about how he works with his teachers and Māori community to develop a bicultural school context within which both Treaty partners are acknowledged and valued. A teacher and members of the Māori community describe how this principal’s leadership has facilitated a reciprocal relationship between the school and their local Māori community.

Key messages:

  • Leadership evidences a personal commitment to te reo and tikanga Māori
  • “…It shows us he’s really trying and it shows all the non Māori kids it’s ok to do that”
  • There are deliberate and visible efforts to recognise both treaty partners
  • The importance of listening
  • Relationships if they are to become genuine and sustainable partnerships need a commitment to bring benefits to both parties

Things to think about:

  • How would others perceive our commitment to recognise both treaty partners equally?
  • Are we listening effectively?

The evaluation indicators this video illustrates

  • Domain 2: Leadership for equity and excellence
    • Evaluation indicator
      • Leadership builds relational trust and effective collaboration at every level of the school community 

See also

This video was commissioned by Waikato University. For more on this and similar themes visit the website

This video is part of a series

This video is part of the series Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua. We created this series to inspire schools with examples of success in action. These examples highlight the benefits of fulfilling the evaluation indicators we use to review schools.

Remote video URL

(The video opens on a hall filled with a crowd of people. A teenaged girl in a school uniform stands among them, speaking into a microphone.)


Hargest welcomes students that come from all over the world.


(The camera closes-up on some of the people in the crowd as they listen.)


The lessons we learn and acceptance towards people who are differing in backgrounds holds each one of us in a highly credible position as we move forward in life.


(The sound of the girl’s speech fades out as a man speaks. As he says “struck by” the camera changes to show the speaker, a man sitting in an office speaking into the camera. Text on the bottom of the screen reads, “Andy Wood, Principal, James Hargest College”.)


Listening to the voices of students, I was struck by how a school environment could make them feel comfortable in being proud of their identity.


(His voiceover continues as the camera changes to show a group of students in uniforms singing and dancing in unison, accompanied by music played on guitar.)


I don't think that's always been the case in our schools.




(As the camera changes to show a girl smiling as she watches the performance, we can see the scene is taking place at a ceremony. A man stands in the background at a podium, a bouquet of flowers in front of him. He, as well as many other people sitting in the crowd, wear academic robes.)


It does take deliberate steps and you have to bring your parent community with you.


(The video zooms out and we can see a wider scene of the crowd looking on as the students sing and dance.)


You can just about see the minds of parents at the prize-giving.


(The view switches to focus on the crowd watching the performance.)


Why do we have all this te reo stuff now.


(We are now back with Andy in the office.)


What's all this Māori stuff about?


(As he says “sat through” we return to the performance, and when he mentions “prize-givings” we see the crowd watching on.)


Because any parent who'd sat through a series of prize-givings over a number of years would have observed quite a steady shift in what was normal.


(After briefly seeing the performance again we see Andy standing in front of the crowd in his academic robes. He and the crowd applaud, and the camera angle changes to show the girl watching, who holds a large wooden wahaika. A woman now speaks in voiceover. As she says “incoming students”, the camera shows the speaker, an older woman who sits against a dark purple backdrop. Text on the bottom of the screen identifies her as, “Peggy Peak, Murihiku Marae.”)


Andy likes to be involved in the powhiri for the incoming students.


(The camera returns to the ceremony. We briefly see the performance ending before switching to Andy Wood standing at the podium, clapping.)


He is keen to see Māori cultural things done, and done properly, and done well.


(We see a girl walk through the crowd before we return to Andy. The voiceover ends and he begins to speak into the microphone.)


Ki ngā tauira o te kura o Hemi Hakana-- all you guys sitting in the front to all the students of James Hargest-- ki ngā kaiako o te kura nei.


(His speech fades out and Peggy’s voiceover returns. The crowd is shown on the camera.)


It's showing us that he's really trying.


(The video returns to Andy speaking, but his voice in the background is too low to hear.)


And it also shows the non-Māori kids that it's OK to do that because the principal's doing it, so it must be OK.


(We see a group of students performing a haka for a second before the camera switches to a procession of teachers in their robes. We then see Andy in his office. The sound of the haka can be faintly heard in the background.)


We bookend our prize-giving ceremony by acknowledging both Treaty partners with a kapa haka group as the staff enter.


(Back at the ceremony, the crowd watches as a young man in traditional Scottish Highland dress plays the bagpipes.)


And as the staff leave, they are piped out by a piper which is a recognition of the British heritage of the other Treaty partner.


(People in the crowd smile as they watch.)


It's quite deliberate.


(The teachers begin to stand to follow the piper as he slowly leaves the ceremony. The rest of the crowd looks on. When he reaches the door the piper stands next to the doorway as the teachers file out. He continues to play.)


And to anybody who's sitting there, looking at the prize-giving ceremony, the clear message has to be this is what the school is about, that it recognises and values tikanga Māori.


(As he says ‘tikana Māori’, we very briefly see Andy back in his office before the camera changes to another man, standing before a dark purple backdrop as he speaks. Text on the bottom of the screen reads, “Victor Manawatu, Senior Partnership Advisor, Ministry of Education”.)


I've got an open invitation from Andy to pop in and visit anytime I like.


(He continues to speak as the video changes to a group of people, including students in uniforms, crossing a street and walking towards a wharenui.


I've found him quite easy to work with because he is willing to listen and to actually take a chance. Whereas, a lot of principals aren't.


(Inside the building we see Andy sitting with a group of people, talking among themselves. Behind them are tukutuku panels and brightly coloured carvings.)


And even to come and just sit on the marae and listen, that's a big thing.


(A new man’s voice now speaks over the scene.)


He brought in a basket with fruits and teas, and stuff, a koha.


(We now see the speaker sitting in a classroom, speaking to the camera. Text on the bottom of the screen reads, “Neitana Tane, Māori Language Teacher, James Margest College”. The scene then changes to a meeting in an office, where Andy and Neitana sit at a table with several other people.)


And had the data there and he brought me along as the new Māori language teacher.


(Neitana’s voiceover fades out as we see him speak to the group.)


That was what I picked up in the last year or so—


It was yeah, yeah.


(His voiceover returns as the scene plays on.)


So we caught up and sat for about, maybe an hour and a half.


(The camera changes back to Neitana in the school.)


It was relaxed and natural.


(He gestures as he speaks. As he says “you could”, we return to the meeting. We see the others listen as Victor speaks, although we can’t hear what he is saying.)


And the layers of conversation weren't just single threads, you could feel and hear the encouragement of resonating, sympathetic conversations happening.


(Victor’s voice takes over the voiceover. At the meeting we see Peggy Peak speaking and gesturing into the air.)


It probably wasn't easy to start with, but the more he's come and sat down up on the marae and talked to people, the easier it's become.


(We quickly return to Andy Wood in his office before changing to the meeting at the marae. Andy’s voiceover continues.)


The relationship of a school, with its local iwi, is like any other relationship. If you feed it, it thrives. And if you don't feed it, it withers.


(As he says ‘talk’, we see him in his office again.)


And most relationships thrive on talk, contact, seeing each other.


(The video returns to the marae. A group of adults sitting together read from pamphlets. As he says ‘starts’, the camera changes to another part of the room where students in uniforms sit on the ground in a circle reading the same pamphlets.)  


You are making an effort and that starts to become more two-way.


(We briefly see a group of adults sitting reading on the ground before the camera quickly shows a child running down a hallway lined with shoes, then to a hall where teenagers practice a dance. Peggy sits at a table nearby knitting something pink.)


So instead of always us ringing the marae: can we come down?


(At the back of the room Neitana sits holding a guitar on the edge of the stage. He listens to a girl sitting next to him. The sound of students singing quietly fades in in the background.)


Can you do this for us? Can you do that for us?


(We now see a view of the room from a small kitchen where a young girl sits eating from a bowl. She watches the students dance from over the kitchen counter, Neitana now standing on the stage. The camera pans over the children’s faces as they sing.)


It starts to work both ways.


(The camera closes-up on the girl eating, then briefly shows Andy sitting in his office.)


The local marae contacts us and says: can you come and help us?


(In the kitchen Neitana carves a large piece of meat wrapped in foil as several others watch.)


And we say, yeah, sure.


(Young people holding plates line up before dishes filled with food on the kitchen counter. The camera pans downward as someone serves a slice of cooked pumpkin onto one of their plates. Cutting to behind the servers, we see the little girl who was sitting at the counter in the gap between them, taking a plate of food.)


Maybe waiting on tables and doing the dishes at a Matariki breakfast or other big functions.


(The camera pans across the marae, which is filled with tables of people eating. Andy sits with two others on the edge of the stage, smiling as he watches.)


It's just starting to grow into a genuine relationship which is mutual.


(We return to Victor Manawatu in front of the purple wall.)


One good thing I like about him is he doesn't presume to know everything.


(The camera cuts back to Andy on the edge of the stage. As he says ‘particularly’ the scene changes to the serving line in the kitchen.)


And he's willing to learn, particularly when it comes to things like te reo Māori, tikanga Māori, kaupapa Māori.


(Back to Andy on the stage listening as the man next to him speaks, gesturing as he does so.)


He does place himself as a learner, rather than as a professional.


(The video shows a montage of people eating.)


And that's showing the willingness to come up to the marae here and actually sit down and talk and listen.


(We return to Neitana speaking to the camera very briefly before the camera shows a school woodworking workshop. Several boys stand at the benches working on various projects.)


I'd almost skite about the departments and how genuine they are with their efforts to maintain some elements of bilingualism.


(A boy carves into a piece of wood using a hammer and chisel. We then return to the meeting in the office. Behind Andy there is a large windows, through which we can see students lined up holding poi. As he says ‘bicultural’ we see a group of young people singing and dancing in the hall. Neitana plays his guitar.)


To have our leader demonstrate and exemplify the Pākehā fellow and a bicultural ceiling's obligations professionally makes the opportunities for our students that much closer to realization.


(Victor Manawatu speaks in front of the purple wall. As he says ‘willing’ the first time the camera switches back to the hall. Sitting on the stage, Andy stomps a rhythm with a wooden staff as Neitana clasps in time to the song.)


It's OK Andy willing to do that, but if you've got a school that's willing to participate, willing to learn, willing to just be part of the whānau then you're on a winner.


(The video shows the faces of the students singing. When he says ‘Panuku’ the scene changes back to the meeting in the office.)


I know some of the teachers there and they're very passionate about Kia Eke Panuku and see it as the positive way forward.


(Andy is back in his office speaking to the camera.)


There's a huge amount to learn, my goodness. And there's nothing to stop us learning it, all you've got to do is have an attitude of learning.