Published: 04 Sep 2017
Equitable outcomes
Evaluation indicators
Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua


“A lot of the issues we have with young people today are around identity.”

In this clip Māori educators and a Māori student draw from their own experiences to discuss the concept of identity and the central role schools play in the identity development of Māori students.

They propose that it is important that the knowledge Māori students have, about who they are and where they come from is acknowledged and valued within the school setting.

Additionally the interviewees encourage teachers and leaders to provide Māori students with opportunities to explore, better understand, share and strengthen their identity so that they can achieve education success ‘as Māori’.

Key messages:

  • The need for schools to create opportunities for learners to self identify as Māori and be supported to better know themselves and their culture
  • “We bring our identity into the classroom with us, we bring our culture into the classroom with us”
  • “ They want to learn how to fit into todays society as a Māori”
  • Something that’s always in the back of every Māori’s mind is; How Māori am I?”
  • Of particular concern to these educators are those ‘disenfranchised, strident young Māori, probably the most volatile group… who have the look and that’s where it stops’

Things to think about:

  • What is our response to the need to support culture, language and identity?
  • What else could we consider?

The evaluation indicators this video illustrates

  • Domain 2: Leadership for equity and excellence
    • Evaluation indicator
      • Leadership ensures an orderly and supportive environment that is conducive to student learning and wellbeing

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 an outdoor school sports area paved with concrete. People seated in the background watch as a man in traditional Māori clothing performs).


(A group of boys of different ages, all wearing school uniforms, gather to watch. A man’s voice speaks in voiceover. As he says “proud” the camera changes to show the speaker sitting against a wooden panelled wall, speaking into the camera. Text on the bottom of the screen reads “Kimiora Webster, HoD Māori, Rotorua Boys’ High School”.)


I really think it's an important thing for Māori youth to be proud of their identity, and to identify themselves as Māori.


(We return outdoors to the pōwhiri. Adults sit together on chairs, surrounded by students who sit on the concrete. In the centre Kimiora Webster, dressed in a suit and holding a wooden staff, calls out as part of the ceremony.)


They also want to learn how to fit into today's society as a Māori.


(A group of older boys begin to perform a haka at the powhiri behind the sitting adults, as the students sitting on the ground look on.)


I think that comes from the leadership of the school.


(Another man now speaks to the camera, sitting against a dark purple wall. Text on the bottom of the screen reads “Victor Manawatu, Senior Partnership Advisor, Ministry of Education”.)


When I was going to school we were treated very differently.


(As his voiceover continues the video cuts to a woodworking workshop. We hear the faint sound of sanding as several boys wearing aprons and safety goggles work on various projects.)


Māori at the time were told to leave their culture at the gate.


(We see a close-up of a boy chiselling a piece of wood, smiling. He wears a carved bone pendant around his neck.)


Well, we don't need to do that anymore. We can now actually go in and be Māori.


(The camera pans around the room to show the other boys working.)


Be ourselves. And that's what part of that learning is all about.


(The camera returns to the boy who is chiselling. He has a large piece of wood secured in a vice which he carves into by rhythmically tapping a chisel with a wooden mallet.)


We bring our identity into the classroom with us.


(The camera zooms in on his woodworking. We can see he is carving an intricate pattern into the wood.)


We bring our culture into the classroom with us.


(The camera now shows another man sitting in a classroom, speaking into the camera. Text on the bottom of the screen identifies him as “Neitana Tane, Māori Language Teacher, James Hargest College”.)


I think it's really important to know who you are and where you're from, to give you an idea about why you're doing what you do.


(As he speaks, the camera shows him addressing a class. In the background a projector displays lyrics to a song in te reo Māori side-by-side with an English translation. The camera then pans out to show the class, standing facing him with their arms at their sides.)


And in the case of te ao Māori, these students don't have to do Māori.


(We return to him looking into the camera.)


They've chosen to do it. A lot of them are ahu whakamā.


(Once again we see him addressing the class.)


Not the korero because they don't have much language.


(The camera now shows the class from the back. The students stand and listen as Neitana speaks, gesturing towards words on the projector screen.)


And it changes and evolves as they find out more about who they are and where they're from.


(We return to Neitana speaking into the camera.)


It is vital that schools can create opportunities for students to self-identify.


(Back in the classroom, the students place their hands on their hips. They begin to dance while singing in te reo, Neitana accompanying them on guitar.)


If we don't, those can actually get in the way of their learning because it becomes a concern for all of us at some stage in our lives.


(The singing fades out. The camera now shows a teenage boy in a school uniform standing in front of a wooden door. Text on the bottom of the screen identifies him as “Rawiri Manley, Head Boy, Rotorua Boys’ High School”. He speaks into the camera.)


A lot of people don't know where they come from, and they don't know their lineage, and their historical link.


(He continues speaking in voiceover while the video shows a group of boys wearing uniforms and backpacks, their backs turned to the camera. They walk towards a classroom.)


So I think for Māori it's a taonga, it's something we treasure.


(We now see the interior of a school library. Rawiri Manley sits at a table with three other boys. They flip through books and talk amongst themselves as Kimiora Webster’s voiceover returns.)


That's something that's always in the back of every Māori's mind, how Māori am I?


We do have two different types of students here.


(The camera closes up on the boys faces.)


We have the first type of student where they are totally immersed in the culture.


(We see Kimiora speaking into the camera once again.)


And then we have another type of student where they know they're Māori, but they just don't know where they come from.


(We briefly return to Rawiri Manley addressing the camera before seeing the interior of a hall. A class of students sit on the ground, looking up at a stage where Neitana Tane stands with a portable whiteboard.)


It's kind of a nurturing role. You can't just smack it in front of them and expect them to learn: this is where you're from.


(The camera zooms in on Neitana and the whiteboard, which has a te reo Māori lesson written on it.)


They have to have a purpose as to why they're wanting to learn it.


(We now return to the powhiri. A large group of boys in school uniforms look on as a group of older boys, lead by three men in traditional Māori clothing, perform a haka. Kimiora Webster speaks in voiceover.)


One step that we've taken in this school is that we've offered Māori to all Year 9 students, and is of next year we'll be offering it to all Year 10 students as well.


(The camera briefly shows Kimiora speaking into the camera before returning to the crowd watching the haka.)


So while they're juniors at the school, they get are really good insight into te au Māori and things Māori, so that it helps to encourage them to find out more and spark that curiosity within them.


(When the haka ends the crowd of students begins to move on. We briefly see Kimiora speaking into the camera again before returning to the pōwhiri. Once again he stands in the middle of the crowd holding a wooden staff.)


Something has to spark you in order for you to go and pursue something, and that's what we need to do with our students. Spark that curiosity in them so that they get up there and start to try and find more for themselves.


(The video now shows Victor Manawatu, again sitting against a purple wall and addressing the camera.)


Carrying your culture into the classroom then becomes part of who you are.


(We now see a girl sitting on a carpeted floor, writing in a workbook. The camera pans up and zooms out to show her sitting with another girl on the floor of a classroom. Other students in the background talk amongst themselves. Victor’s voiceover continues.)


So your world view is taken into account when you're sitting in the classroom.


(The camera closes up on the girls faces. They smile and talk amongst themselves as the voiceover continues.)


So Māori learning as Māori, yes we can do that.


(The camera closes up a Māori bone carving hanging around one of the girls necks as she writes in her book.)


We do it every day at home and now we have the capability of doing it at schools. And a lot of the work around Kia Eke Panuku is making that happen as well.


(The video briefly shows Victor Manawatu, once again sitting against a purple wall and addressing the camera.)


I think it's very important.


(We return to the classroom where the girls are still sitting on the carpet together, smiling. Two boys have now joined them as they study. The camera then changes to show Neitana Tane instructing them. Two of the students raise their hands and smile.)


A lot of the prejudice and racism that happens in this country is because of the misunderstanding of the other Treaty partner.


(The video returns to Rawiri Manley, speaking into the camera as he stands in front of a wooden door.)


In terms of success as Māori, we're knowledge holders, I guess. We're all baskets of knowledge.


(The video now changes to a group of students wearing school uniforms sitting on chairs while and older man speaks to them. The walls are covered in brightly coloured carvings)


We often get told by our kaumatua to share your knowledge with people because one day you're going to die and that knowledge is going to be lost.


(The sound of song fades in as the camera pans across to a group of students standing outside, singing. The camera changes angle and we see Neitana Tane is in front of them playing guitar. An expanse of farmland is behind him, with a group of cows in the field. Neitana speaks in voice over.)


It's becoming a lot more comfortable to korero Māori.


(As the singing fades out, we once again see him in the classroom speaking into the camera.)


You can actually feel the energy of the kids that they have at a primary school that disappears at high school, as attitudes get in the way.


There's much less of that towards Māori.


(The video now shows a blurry shot of two boys wearing school uniforms and backpacks walking away from the camera. It is flowed by a similarly blurry shot of students with backpacks outside a classroom.)


I think the real healing is going to happen when we have some of the disenfranchised and strident young Māori.


(Another blurred shot of students walking down a path, away from the camera.)


They're probably the most volatile group and can be worse than some of the closed minded Pākehā students in their vehemence and dislike of things Māori. It hurts them.


(A single, blurry boy walks along across the schoolyard.)


They have the look, and that's where it stops.


(Back in focus, we see a group of boys singing together. We can hear them sing under the voiceover.)


They're a concern group that I would like to create an awareness of because we do hear: well, why's she like that, she's Māori?


(The camera changes to show more boys sitting alongside Neitana, who sings and plays his guitar. Behind him lyrics to the waiata are written on a portable whiteboard. A mural of a waka adrift in a gray, stormy sea is painted on the wall.)


And that's the question.


(The voiceover ends and the singing becomes full volume. The boy sitting next to Neitana drums on his legs in time to the music.)




(Neitama says something we can’t hear as he gestures instructions towards the boys. They nod and smile in response. Neitama is then back in the classroom speaking to the camera.)


So we go back to that myriad of reasons why we had found ourselves in the predicament we have in the past, 80, 90, 100 plus years.


(We return to Victor Manawatu sitting against a purple wall and addressing the camera.)


We know that identity's important.


(The camera now shows a teacher in a large hall. He stands on a stage next to a portable whiteboard, holding a wooden staff. He faces a group of students who sing while standing at attention, some with poi attached to their belts.


We know language and culture are important.


(His voiceover continues as the camera closes-up on several students’ singing faces.)


A lot of the issues that we have with our youngsters is around identity.


(The camera is back to the back of the stage, then back to students faces.)


Urbanisation took us away from the marae. It also took us away from the intergenerational relationship between grandparents and kids.


(The camera returns to the stage, then students faces, and finally back to Victor Manawatu.)


So we are at a crossroads now where schools really need to start stepping up and making that difference.