Mahi Ngātahi, Tupu Ngātahi, Evaluation Report for Kura Kaupapa Māori


Mahi Ngātahi, Tupu Ngātahi

Central to this report is the common reflection of participating kura kaupapa Māori, that their journeys, both as individuals and as kura whānau, are stories of collective aspirations held within the narrative of establishment, building and subsequent maintenance of their respective kura and kaupapa.

Poutiria te Reo Mauriora highlights the conditions that underpin Māori Medium Education provision, and Māori enjoying and achieving success as Māori.

This evaluation will provide empirical evidence about raukura (graduates), their achievements and identifies conditions across their learning journey.

Mahi Ngātahi, Tupu Ngātahi is one of three individual reports in te reo Māori and English for Māori Medium Education Provision.



ERO would like to acknowledge the six participating kura kaupapa Māori, kura whānau, students, teachers and leaders. Your willingness to support and share your collective knowledge and expertise has been invaluable in this project. Your contributions have provided ERO with important insights to help build our knowledge about the provision of te reo Māori education throughout the country, tēnā koutou.

Participating kura:

  • Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi
  • Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kawakawa mai Tawhiti
  • Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ruamatā
  • Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Ara Hou
  • Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rito
  • Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiū o Ngāti Porou



ERO has developed an approach that tends to the differing provision of education for Te Rūnanganui o ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori, Ngā Kura ā-Iwi and Te Kōhanga Reo.

Data collection held on site includes face-to-face interviews with, and film footage of, kaumātua, parents, raukura, teachers and leaders at the respective kura kaupapa Māori.

In each kura a case study focussing on learning pathways of raukura, the kōhanga/puna reo, primary and secondary school that exist together was carried out.

A number of raukura of kura kaupapa Māori were selected by their respective kura whānau to provide insight into the conditions that foster Māori success in Kura.

Whole article:

Mahi Ngātahi, Tupu Ngātahi, Evaluation Report for Kura Kaupapa Māori

Kura Kaupapa Māori Aho Matua ensure nurturing learning environments

Te Ira Tangata: Emotional, Physical, Spiritual Well-being

Mana Atua; learners develop knowledge of Māori beliefs and values that invoke feelings of peace, happiness and love.

… there’s no better learning than the child fully sensing the life force of that place, touching the earth, the lands where her/his ancestors once walked … (Raukura – Ruamatā)

Whanaungatanga and Connectedness; whānau are connected and contribute to emotional, spiritual and physical well-being of teachers and learners.

Te Aho Matua is about empowering people; it does not suppress people. It acknowledges your whakapapa and whānau – it does not look at the single person, but the whole whānau is able to take part in the kaupapa. (Raukura – Hoani Waititi)

Teaching Strategies; there are a number of teaching and learning strategies used by kura to create nurturing, responsive and inclusive learning environments.

I recall as a student at the kura the strong connections and depth of thinking around ao Māori and Te Aho Matua. (Raukura – Te Ara Hou)

Tikanga Māori; kura provide regular activities for learners that reflect tikanga practices and values.

It was due to our kaiako protecting us, teaching us te reo, teaching us tikanga and having compassion and empathy. We were surrounded by love and everything that entails. (Raukura –Hoani Waititi)

Kura Kaupapa Māori Aho Matua produce quality educational outcomes


Mana atua:

knowledge of whakapapa and relationship to tikanga Māori and Māori knowledge.

Mana reo:

immersion in te reo Māori and tikanga Māori.

Mana whenua:

ancestral connection and values, relationship to environment, and sense of belonging.

Mana tuku iho:

Te Aho Matua as a philosophy affirming ancestral knowledge, belief and values.


Tikanga Māori

A number of tikanga Māori were indentified in the data. These include reference to:

Tuwhera to ngākau, wairua, aroha, manaaki, mauritau, karakia, whakapapa, tautoko and mahi tahi.


Whānau & Connectedness

Whanaungatanga & connectedness:

whānau are integral contributors to Kura Kaupapa Māori Aho Matua; relationships with whānau and the wider community are essential to fostering nurturing learning environments.

Whānau commitment:

to te reo Māori is essential to revitalising te reo Māori.

Whānau as critical contributors:

to the entire Kura environment as knowledge experts and supporters.

Whānau ringa raupā:

commitment of whānau to the kura.


Ako: Teaching & Learning

Teaching strategies:

a range of strategies that nurture tauira.

Teaching strategies:

that enhance te reo Māori acquisition and competence.

Marae as a teaching strategy:

the marae environment as a connector to whānau, hapū and iwi.

Teaching & learning contexts:

a range of environments to facilitate learning.


Kawenga: Responsibilities

Intergenerational transmission:

kaumātua, whānau, hapū and iwi are critical repositories of knowledge, and this is an important part of language revitalisation.


roles and responsibilities to te reo Māori and tikanga Māori, responsibility and developing an ethic of care for the environment, for whānau, for the marae, for culture and knowledge.

Leader of revitalisation:

leadership are advocates and facilitators of language revitalisation.


Kura Kaupapa Māori Aho Matua support transformational learning environments

Te Reo: Te Reo Immersion Education

Mana Reo; learners will develop skills and knowledge of mana Māori immersed in te reo Māori and tikanga Māori.

… it was their committment to the language, to the cause, and their concerns for the survival of the language. At that time in Ruatōrea the language was in decline, actually throughout the East Coast. (Raukura - Te Waiū)

Teaching Strategies; kura ensure that tauira have rich learning experiences in te reo Māori.

It was great; it wasn’t just about learning from a book. So much to be learned on the marae and in nature. (Raukura – Kawakawa mai Tawhiti)

Whānau Commitment; there is a clear commitment from whānau to the revitalisation of te reo Māori, and to normalise language use in everyday living.

Our trips to Taranaki, Matatā, Ōpōtiki, we would travel as a whānau in our van singing all the way. We’d sing a variety of songs, only Māori songs because we were not allowed to listen to English songs. (Raukura – Ruamatā)


Whānau, hapū and iwi influence, lead and actively contribute as a major condition for successful Kura Kaupapa Māori education

Ngā Iwi: Whānau, Hapū, Iwi


Mana Whenua; learners are secure in their knowledge of ancestral links and the hopes and aspirations of whānau, hapū and iwi.

We followed the footsteps of Ihenga to see how they lived. (Raukura – Ruamatā)

Whānau as Critical Contributors; kura regard whānau as: leaders, key decision makers, expert knowledge holders, critical contributors, role models and committed supporters of transformational kura kaupapa Māori Aho Matua education.

… there were countless occasions where parents and whānau participated in various projects, elders and parents worked at events like school sleepovers, marae stays, they were there assisting in all areas, all management and hosting duties. (Raukura – Te Rito)

Marae as a Teaching Strategy; marae were identified as focal learning environments and sites of connectedness.

Our maths classroom was the meeting house …. art was done on this verandah, we’d also go out to harvest flax for weaving. We didn’t have equipment then so we used the floor as a table. (Raukura – Kawakawa mai Tawhiti)

Intergenerational Transmission; kuia and koroua are critical to the transmission of language and knowledge.

… if you think about the kura, the raukura who have returned are good exemplars who have been out in the wider world but remain committed to the kura and the approach. (Raukura – Kawakawa mai Tawhiti)

Connectedness; kura identify essential attributes such as: collaboration, community connection, whanaungatanga, relationships, as well as the importance of relationships to marae.

… going to all of the funerals of the district, confirmed within us the obligation to support the families. (Raukura – Te Rito)

Tikanga Māori; tikanga Māori involve whānau, hapū and iwi.

Days tidying the marae … it was probably there we began engaging with the places of the sub-tribe and the marae. (Raukura – Kawakawa mai Tawhiti)


Kura Kaupapa Māori medium provision influences outcomes for all

Te Ao: Successful Outcomes for All

Te Aho Matua; the educational philosophy Te Aho Matua is the foundation of Kura Kaupapa Māori. Te Aho Matua provides six clear areas by which to nurture learners.

… the spirit must also be tended to, that’s the advantage of Te Aho Matua and kura kaupapa, the physical elements and the spiritual. (Raukura – Te Waiū)

Kaitiakitanga; kaitiakitanga refers to a type of guardianship, protection and includes the notion of being a champion for a kaupapa.

I am grateful to Te Aho Matua… for students who graduate from kura kaupapa Māori there is a time they are wrapped in a cloak of love and affection, a nurturing cloak that is Te Aho Matua. (Raukura – Te Rito)

Whānau and Connectedness; marae were identified as focal learning environments and sites of connectedness.

We as kaiako, board members and whānau members can all see ourselves as parents to the children. (Raukura – Hoani Waititi)

Teaching and Learning Contexts; it is important that learning spaces reflect “aroha ki te tamaiti”, where tauira experience diverse learning contexts including marae and local, national and international environments.

It is a marae school… we were always supporting the marae activities, ceremonial welcomes… those traditions were instilled in us, marae management, the work at the back, looking after your guests with the addtion of maths, writing, reading … and aligning those to the activities of the marae. (Raukura – Hoani Waititi)

Tikanga Māori; successful outcomes for all also incapsulates a number of tikanga Māori including whakapapa, tautoko, tuwhera te ngākau, manaakitanga and aroha.

… we were so fortunate to take excursions into the local range of natural environments, the sea, the forest, the rivers provided learning experiences for us children, we were lucky. (Raukura – Kawakawa mai Tawhiti)

Kaiako facilitate learning and the provision of high-quality education

Ngā Āhuatanga Ako: Kaiako as Facilitators

Teaching and Learning Strategies; kaiako actively undertake professional learning development to employ effective teaching and learning strategies aligned to Te Aho Matua curriculum.

I am supporting this path of Kura Kaupapa Māori and Te Aho Matua. I have seen the benefits. I have seen the success. I have seen the path for a Māori child. It is a path that enables you to walk in both worlds (Raukura – Te Waiū)

Whānau Engagement; whānau engagement in the direction and teaching and learning is an essential condition for high quality education.

It is the whole whānau and by the whānau. (Raukura – Te Waiū)

Tikanga Māori; ngākau- wairua focussed teaching and learning for Kaupapa Māori approaches. Mauritau, mahi tahi and manaakitanga contribute to the learning environment.

It was the strength of our teachers to support us, to teach us Māori language and practices te reo Māori with loving hearts. We were cloaked in love and all that is generated from it. (Raukura – Hoani Waititi)

The provision of quality education can be summarised in Te Rito Whānau Statement:

… This is a safe place, since, the kura operates under the mantle of Te Aho Matua, where we take direction from the traditions of our ancestors and where we are guided by humility and empathy towards one another.

Kura Kaupapa Māori Aho Matua actively contribute to Māori enjoying success as Māori

Ngā tino uaratanga: Māori Success as Māori


Whānau Statements best summarise the founding conditions for success:

The whānau of Te Waiū heard the call to investigate an alternative pathway to preserve local language and traditions, to develop education and skills within our children so they could stand as raukura for their whānau, hapū and iwi. The fruits of hard work and perseverance have been fulfilled and the hope is that in time the raukura will bring their skills back to the people. (Whānau Statement – Te Waiū)

We, the Whānau o Te Ara Hou, believe all children achieve. We know it is our role to provide quality education in a nurturing environment … in order to produce and strengthen the child as a raukura (high achiever who exemplifies the hopes and aspirations of her/his people) in line with Te Aho Matua. (Whānau Statement – Te Ara Hou)

Te Kōhanga Reo o Hoani Waititi Marae and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi Marae are not restricted within the walls of the classroom because the wider world is the classroom. A learning setting is arranged no matter where, no matter when. A Māori language environment. A nuturing setting. A site of success, empathy, an Aho Matua place. What an expert teaching team the staff of this kura are. This is the particular environment of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi Marae. (Whānau Statement – Hoani Waititi).

The Ruamatā community works extremely hard with lots of love passion and determination to ensure that each child has opportunities to realise and express their own latent potential, dreams and aspirations. The whānau is committed to transforming the educational experience into a Māori pathway toward achievement, success and good character. A key principle is that the children will be happy in their learning. We wholeheartedly accept the Aho Matua responsibility to nurture each child’s spiritual development. Intergenerational transmission of Māori language and culture is the norm and we derive a great deal of pride from the knowledge that most of the whānau within our community have three or four generations of Māori speakers where once there were none. (Whānau Statement – Ruamatā)

Leadership influences the provision of quality outcomes across the Māori medium pathway

Te Aho Matua: Leaders as Visionaries Strong leadership is a commitment to the revitalisation of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori.

Te Aho Matua; is embedded in all aspects of kura kaupapa Aho Matua. Whānau are fully committed to Te Aho Matua, where Te Aho Matua provides overall guidance for leadership, teaching, learning and the provision of quality outcomes.

Many of our Raukura are returning to the kura as kaiako, like myself. To make a contribution and uphold Te Aho Matua as I experienced it, to preserve the kaupapa. (Raukura – Te Ara Hou)

Leaders of revitalisation; kura Kaupapa Māori Aho Matua were established to revitalise te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. One condition for strong leadership is a commitment to the revitalisation of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori.

If we didn’t have kura kaupapa Māori; if we didn’t have this marae; I would not have my Māori language. (Raukura – Hoani Waititi)

Whānau Ringa Raupā; whānau decision making is essential to kura kaupapa Māori Aho Matua. Whānau collectively govern the kura and provide active guidance. Leadership is identified as strategic, inspirational and effective. Activities at the marae provide opportunities for the role-modelling of leadership by whānau and tauira.

Parents from every home are kura teachers. So, at the beginning of the journey it was parents who built the school. Some were driving the bus. My mother was one of the administrators. The deeper message of this comment is that Te Aho Matua should not be left as an approach for the school alone. All of the principles of Te Aho Matua are cornerstones to adorn your own home, each and every home. (Raukura – Ruamatā)


The title, Mahi Ngātahi, Tupu Ngātahi – working together, growing together, captures a common theme expressed by the participating kura kaupapa Māori contributing to the achievements of their raukura across their learning journey.

It alludes to the importance of well-balanced relationships where all elements exist in-sync with each other and with their purpose for coming together. Individuals with individuals, children with adults, families with families, teachers with parents, hapū and iwi, whānau with the kaupapa or purpose, people with place, the spiritual realm with the physical, the old world with the new, and the elements that make up the whole person – spiritual, physical, intellectual and emotional – all co-exisiting interdependently, working together and growing together.

Te Aho Matua places value on whānau participation in all aspects of the kura as a means of reinforcing the cohesion of whānau and kura. (Te Rūnanga Nui o ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa, 2008).

Mahi Ngātahi, Tupu Ngātahi refers to whānau surrounding the child with a Māori spiritual essence and providing an exemplar that affirms Māori independence, autonomy and ability to manage all aspects of the kura.

The conditions of fostering Māori success as Māori in kura kaupapa Māori Aho Matua is characterised by Te Aho Matua, and investigation via ERO themes identifies five key conditions: Mana, Whānau & Connectedness; Ako; Tikanga Māori; and Kawenga Responsibilities. Kura Kaupapa Māori whānau comprise like-minded individuals, families and hapū who come together with a common purpose.

A consequence of their working together is that they simultaneously also grow together. From little or no Māori language ability to high levels of competence, from almost no teaching experience or none at all to pedagogical leadership, from hesitation and uncertainty in Māori cultural situations to roles of leadership in those very same situations, from no experience in running a kura to quality provision in all facets of the kura. The result of these developmental efforts is a clarity of purpose, a collective understanding of legacy and a unique communality that continues to draw raukura and their families back to the kura, if indeed they ever really leave.

A process evaluation is undertaken here as identified by ERO (Education Review Office, 2016),

Where evaluation against the outcome indicators indicates excellent performance, the process indicators can be used as a tool for analysing which school processes and activities have contributed to this excellent performance. (p 10)

Therefore this evaluation report identifies specific conditions that kura themselves have identified as key conditions for Māori education success. This is achieved through the analysis of information collected around seven broad questions that are listed here. For the purposes of this report Mahi Ngātahi, Tupu Ngātahi these questions are reframed to reflect Te Aho Matua.

The learning conditions, characteristics and practices as experienced and recalled by individual raukura were used as lines of inquiry by the evaluation team and observed during the onsite evaluation phase of this project.

Universal themes are the key themes of significance that came out of an internal analysis of evaluation reports and information about high performing kōhanga, kura and wharekura over a period of time.

Kura Kaupapa Māori Aho Matua produce quality educational outcomes. Collected data from interviews are analysed with aspects of Te Aho Matua as the foundation to identify the key conditions of educational success across Kura Kaupapa Māori Aho Matua.

Nurturing Learning Environment

How effectively does Māori medium education ensure a nurturing learning environment?


Te Reo Māori Immersion Education is Transformational

How effectively does te reo Māori immersion support a transformational learning environment?


Whānau, hapū and iwi

How effectively do whānau, hapū and iwi influence, lead and actively contribute to Māori medium education success?


Successful outcomes for all

How effectively does Māori medium provision influence outcomes for all?


Kaiako as facilitators

How effectively do kaiako facilitate learning and the provision of high-quality education?


Māori Success as Māori

How effectively does the Māori medium education pathway define, demonstrate and promote, conditions that foster Māori success as Māori?


Leaders as visionaries

How effectively does leadership influence the provision of quality outcomes across the Māori medium pathway?