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Cultural diversity

This section draws together research, digital resources, and examples to support schools as they consider the cultural diversity principle.

School examples

Examples of ideas and approaches some schools are using to enact the cultural diversity principle.


Rangikura School – Pasifika parent group leads learningDuring Sāmoan Language Week the staff, students, parents, and wider community of Rangikura School came together to enjoy an array of activities and celebrations which were organised by the school’s Rangikura Matua Pasifika Parent group.

Henderson South School – Samoan achieving success as Samoan
Find out how Henderson South School is nurturing gagana Samoa and helping Samoan students achieve success as Samoan. 

Home: Stories from New New Zealanders - School Journal
Home: Stories from New New Zealanders tells the stories of four Avondale Intermediate students who moved to New Zealand from overseas.

Students participating in developing a cultural responsive environment
Mike Molloy, Principal at Broadfield School, talks about the way the Broadfield community is committed to developing a culturally responsive environment that reflects Treaty obligations and New Zealand as a bicultural nation.

Supporting teachers with community engagement in the classroom  
Teacher Chrissie Rumpler explains how Owairaka School has supported staff to understand and engage with diversity in their school community. She also provides inspirational examples of what engaging communities can look like. 

EDtalk – Using ICT to enhance Samoan language
May Crichton discusses the process used to create Samoan language learning resources through ICT to support and extend children’s confidence with their language, which has actively encouraged both children and their families to speak Samoan at home.

Engaging Pasifika families – Owairaka School builds a fale
Staff at Owairaka School went on a professional development trip to Samoa to help them to understand the culture of their Samoan students. This story tells how the community subsequently worked together to bring an element of Samoan culture to the school in the construction of a traditional fale.

Culturally responsive values
Brian Price, principal at Breens Intermediate, explains how the school made their values more culturally responsive so that they could be owned by all students.

Effective pedagogy for our Māori and Pasifika students
In this story, staff from Sylvia Park School discuss characteristics of effective pedagogy. Emphasis is placed on incorporating students’ cultural contexts into teaching and learning programmes and into the classroom environment.

Using family stories in learning about cultural identity and cultural transmission
This case study describes how a teacher began to wonder if there was something in the cultural context of her classroom that was preventing her Māori and Pasifika students from participating. She explored ways to use Māori and Pasifika students’ experiences, knowledge, and culture to enhance their achievement and learning.

Tama ‘A Le ‘Ele‘ele, Sa‘ili Mālō: Enhancing Samoan students’ comprehension of written texts
This case study explains how a teacher of year 7 and 8 students in a Samoan bilingual unit sought ways to build on her students’ prior knowledge and cultural and linguistic resources by incorporating their first language in their learning.

Pasifika Achievement Plan at Manurewa Intermediate School
This video describes how Manurewa Intermediate School is implementing aspects of the Pasifika Education plan into their own school Pasifika Achievement plan. Integrating students’ cultural contexts into teaching and learning programmes is a key component.

A new environment, a new outlook – North East Valley Normal School curriculum day
John McKenzie, principal from North East Valley Normal School, explains the benefits of holding a curriculum development day at Puketeraki Marae and describes how staff were supported to incorporate a Māori world-view into their planning.

A culturally connected curriculum
At Te Kura o Hiruharama, inquiry learning is aligned to the school vision statement. This digital story discusses how "Hiruharamatanga" is actively incorporated into the school curriculum to ensure the localised curriculum is culturally connected.

Working in partnership with iwi and hapū to develop a localised curriculum
Schools in the Taupō area, including Wairakei School, have worked in partnership with Ngāti Tūwharetoa to ensure students learn about their iwi, its history, places, and stories.

Know me before you teach me
In this story from the Education Gazette, Principal Bruce Jepsen talks about the approach his learning community took when academic intervention alone proved inadequate.


Cultural diversity role brings communities together 
One Christchurch high school has created a coordinated approach to inclusion by appointing a cultural diversity facilitator to help bring the school’s communities together. 

The Taro Patch: Pasifika success at Westlake Boys’ High School
At Westlake Boys’ High School, Pasifika students meet each week to share breakfast, and to "talanoa" (talk) with each other, their tutors, and teachers, as well as listen to Pasifika role models. This initiative gives Pasifika students the opportunity to be themselves in a cultural sense and seek assistance in their studies.

A college of many cultures
Students from Waitakere College took part in a Living Heritage Project where they researched the history of their school and its cultures as well as the migration stories of many of their peers. This section of the Living Heritage website shares their findings.

Personal migration stories
Students from Wellington High School took part in a Living Heritage Project where they investigated migration to New Zealand. Their stories about the journeys their ancestors took puts a personal face on broader historical trends.  

Our changing Indian heritage
In this story, Indian students from Marcellin College record some of their history, their memories of India, and how they are maintaining their Indian culture in New Zealand by continuing to celebrate their festivals.

Learners' backgrounds
In this short video from Making Language and Learning Work 1 – Integrating Language and Learning in Secondary Maths and Science, students talk about the diversity of their backgrounds and what this means for them within a New Zealand secondary school context.

EDtalk – Pasifika Parent Group
Manu Fa'aea-Semeatu, HOD Performing Arts at Rutherford College in 2012, discusses her school's website page for Pasifika parents and her ways of engaging Pasifika fanau in the learning journey of senior secondary students. She also discusses her support across schools for Pasifika student achievement.

Understanding culture to support Pasifika students
Maggie Flavell explains the perspective of a non-Pasifika person working with Pasifika students. She talks about the importance of learning about the Pasifika culture to enable her to better engage with Pasifika students and their families.

Te Mana Kōrero: Culture counts 1
Research shows that bringing a cultural context into the curriculum affirms students' identity, and validates cultural knowledge and knowledge of whānau. It provides a relevance and immediacy that motivates students, as Julie McLaughlin (Tolaga Bay Area School) found by responding to what she knew was important to her students.

Te Mana Kōrero: Culture counts 2
Teachers and students from Kerikeri High School discuss and demonstrate creating a culturally responsive classroom, addressing the risk of tokenism in the journey towards cultural appropriateness.


Diversity and identity
This clip from the Connections and Conversations DVD, considers the diversity within our groups of Pasifika students and their communities in terms of their identities, languages, experiences, and aspirations.

Have you seen?

Chinese language case studies
These case studies focus on New Zealand schools that run Chinese language programmes, and people involved in Chinese language learning in New Zealand. They provide advice and tips about language learning for principals, teachers, and students.

Next – Ideas and resources

Updated on: 26 Mar 2019