Part 4: ERO's framework for review - Ngā Pou Here


Ngā Pou Here is a metaphor used to frame the early childhood education review methodology.

Ngā Pou Here is about the factors that affect the capacity of early childhood services to promote positive learning outcomes for children. Tamariki/children are at the centre of ERO’s focus.

The use of Maori terminology and concepts in Ngā Pou Here is one strategy ERO uses to realise its commitment to equitable outcomes for Māori.

Review officers and early childhood services can use the Māori terminology and increase their understanding of the Māori world view as expressed in Ngā Pou Here.

The use of Ngā Pou Here will help services and ERO to foreground success for Māori children in each evaluation. In this section the terminology and meaning of each Pou is briefly explored from the perspective of te ao Māori. Part 5 has more information about Ngā Pou Here as an evaluation framework and ERO's evaluation indicators in Part 6 further explain each Pou.

Diagram 4: Ngā Pou Here

This diagram is circular with the four Pou which are Matauranga, Tikanga Whakaako, Pou Arahi and Pou Whakahaere forming four corners within the circle. At the middle is a cirlce called Tamariki and sittng outside that circle is Haere Kotui. Arching above this at the top of the circle is Arotake.

Diagram 5: Ngā Pou Here Te Ao Māori

This diagram shows the Pou, the significance of the words in te reo Māori, and how the principles of partnership (Haere Kotui) and internal evaluation (Arotake) connect and support the Pou.

This diagram shows the four Pou. They are standing on a circular base which is called Tamariki. Haere Kotui is at the bottom of the base and Arotake over arches the entire diagram. The four Pou are Matauranga - Matau - knowledgeable, Taura - binding tie together, ranga - we are together. Pou Whakakhaere, Pou-signifigant structure, Whaka - to cause to happen, Whakahaere - organise manage direct. Pou Arahi Pou-significant structure, Arahi - guidance and direction. and Tikanga Whakaako Tika - the right way, Anga - framework shelter, Aka - continuity consistency, Ako - learning and teachong pedagogy.

Ngā Pou Here

Pou are carved posts placed strategically on the land or in specific places to acknowledge and represent the relationship between tangata whenua, their ancestors and their environment or taiao. Pou are significant markers that identify boundaries, guardianship and protection. In short, they mark the traditional and contemporary associations significant to Māori and their contribution to New Zealand’s cultural heritage and identity. This diagram shows the interconnectedness of the Pou and their connection to outcomes for children. The four Pou embody inclusion, equity and balance. None of the Pou can stand on their own; they impact on and influence one another.

Pou Whakahaere

Pou Whakahaere acknowledges the skills and knowledge that a group of people bring to a particular context. Pou Whakahaere is entrusted to work on behalf of others to ensure that the vision and aspirations of the collective are realised. Their significant marker is that of management and governance.

Pou Whakahaere is a marker for:

  • the service establishing its vision, philosophy and strategic direction
  • the service having an up-to-date policy framework that guides practice
  • management of resources, including people, money and property
  • capacity building to enable the service to sustain quality and improve outcomes for children.

Pou Ārahi 

Pou Ārahi refer to the people who ‘ārahi’ or provide guidance, supervision and direction to others. Pou Ārahi enact the guidelines and procedures put in place by Pou Whakahaere. This requires a high level of skill in culturally and socially appropriate leadership.

Pou Ārahi is a marker for: 

  • the enactment of the service’s philosophy
  • realising the service’s vision and strategic direction
  • establishing an organisational culture that supports ongoing improvement
  • building and supporting professional practice.


Mātauranga is a body of knowledge that is framed in certain ways. In curriculum development it is important to ask whose knowledge is valued and how this achieves positive outcomes for all children. The inclusion of mātauranga Māori enables all children to understand the significance of Māori as tangata whenua through the use of te reo Māori; Māori symbols; learning experiences that focus on the environment (taiao) through the lens of atua Maori (guardians of the forest, sky, earth, wind, rain, storms, earthquakes and volcanoes); pūtaiao (science); and hangarau (technology). Mātauranga Māori communicates something fundamental about the Māori world, something distinctive and valuable.

It encompasses both ancient and modern forms of knowing and enlightenment. 

The inclusion of Mātauranga Maori across the curriculum enhances the mana and wairua of Māori children. This validates their ways of knowing, being and doing. At the same time it provides all children with knowledge and information that extends their learning and understanding of the world they live in. 

Mātauranga is a marker for: 

  • teachers’ professional knowledge and their curriculum and subject content knowledge
  • teachers’ knowledge of children as learners and of their learningteachers’ knowledge of culture and context and how this contributes to decisions about curriculum
  • teachers’ knowledge of whanau and the wider community
  • assessment and planning processes.

Tikanga Whakaako

Tikanga whakaako, also known as Maori pedagogy, is a term used to describe teaching and learning that is appropriate for Maori children within an education context. The concept of ako is deeply embedded in tikanga whakaako. Ako acknowledges teaching and learning as reciprocal processes whereby teachers are learners and learners are teachers.

Tikanga whakaako also recognises that the learner, educator and whanau cannot be separated. Embracing the concept of tikanga whakaako enables educators to build caring and purposeful learning relationships where everyone feels that their contribution is valued and their potential is recognised. Critical to Māori pedagogy (tikanga whakaako) is the notion of which or whose knowledge (matauranga) is privileged.1

Tikanga whakaako is a marker for:

  • relationships and interactions between teachers and children
  • effective teaching practice
  • Te Tiriti-based practice and bicultural curriculum
  • inclusive practices
  • learning environments
  • transitions into and within services, and to school.

Haere Kōtui

Haere Kōtui captures the essence and importance of partnership. The phrase emphasises the sense of coming together to work with and alongside each other. Haere Kotui weaves and binds the essential strands of individual commitment and contribution with collective focus and responsibility for the achievement of desired outcomes. A well-woven whariki brings together all those who are important to the task. 

Embedded within the action of Haere Kōtui is whanaungatanga, which in contemporary contexts has been described as the ways in which a group of people, coming together for a common cause or kaupapa, interact and behave with one another. 2

Whanaungatanga is based on genuine respect, appreciation and support afforded to others. It recognises the centrality of whānau and relationships to Māori children in early childhood settings. Whanaungatanga creates a support system drawing on loyalties, obligations and commitment to a common purpose. 3,  4

Partnership is especially important for Māori children because of the central role of whānau in building children’s sense of identity; through whānau children develop their understanding of the world and their place in te ao Māori.


Arotake encompasses the terms assess, evaluate and review. In ERO’s work, arotake refers to the process of conducting evaluation. Both internal and external evaluative inquiry help early childhood services to know how well they are supporting Māori children to realise their potential.

There are many different forms of Māori identity and there are many ways of consulting and engaging with Māori. The processes used during arotake need to appropriately observe Māori tikanga and kawa. So should the way ERO communicates the findings. Effective and culturally appropriate evaluation activities are those that foster meaningful and honest engagement with Māori.