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Treaty of Waitangi

Discussion tools

Starter questions
The following questions can be used to develop deeper thinking around the Treaty of Waitangi principle within a school curriculum. They have been adapted from Exploring the curriculum principles.

Developing understandings

  • What do I understand by the Treaty of Waitangi principle?
  • What do we collectively understand by this principle?
  • What do we believe about this principle?
  • What are common or possible misunderstandings about this principle?
  • What do we perceive as important about this principle for our students?

Reflecting on practice

  • What do we currently do in our school that reflects the Treaty of Waitangi principle?
  • What do we expect to see in teaching and learning practice as this principle is evidenced?
  • How might the embedding of this principle at our school improve student outcomes?
  • What do we need to do to improve our school practices to better reflect our beliefs about this principle?
  • How does our curriculum support and empower all students to develop and address this principle?
  • How are students able to take responsibility for adopting this principle in the classroom?
  • What skills, attitudes, knowledge, and values do I/we need to adopt to ensure this principle is implemented?

Ki te Aotūroa - Improving Inservice Teacher Educator Learning and Practice
This resource, for inservice teacher educators, features a set of questions that have been built around the three principles of the Treaty of Waitangi – partnership, protection, and participation. Schools can adapt and use these questions to consider how they are enacting the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in their context.


  • What does the idea of “partnership” mean to you?
  • Are the “voices” of all those you are working with able to be heard? Whose voices dominate?
  • How strongly does your voice stand out? How do you know?
  • What is the balance of power in the situations you work in? Who does it favour? Do Māori and Pasifika have a share? Do students?
  • How inclusive are your ways of working and of building relationships? How do you ensure multiple ways of working are adopted when appropriate?


  • What are the implications of the term “protection” in your daily practice?
  • How do you know that your ways of working protect and value multiple “ways of knowing”?
  • Who decides what “best practice” and “foundation knowledge” are in the area you work in?
  • Are Māori,Pasifika, and others’ cultural discourses represented?
  • How was this authority to decide established?


  • What does “true participation” look like for colleagues and teachers you work with and for students within the teachers’ classes? How do you arrive at this view? Who’s involved in deciding on it?
  • How do Māori and Pasifika teachers and students benefit from taking part in activities with you?
  • How do you know this represents a “benefit” to them? How do you “measure” this benefit?

Ki te Aotūroa - Improving inservice teacher educator learning and practice, 2008, p 51.

To further your thinking

The Treaty of Waitangi as a curriculum principle
Janelle Riki talks about the Treaty of Waitangi, and suggests schools start by looking at the principles of the Treaty: participation, protection and partnership, and explore them through the lenses of whānau, students, and local iwi and hapu. 

MASAM spotlight
Use this NZC Online spotlight to engage in professional learning about Māori achieving success as Māori. Explore what MASAM means to you and work together with your staff to devise ways to be more culturally responsive.  

Reviewing your school-whānau partnerships
Use this interactive tool with parents, families, whānau, and communities to identify the strengths and needs of your school–whānau partnerships and work towards improving student outcomes. The tool results in a comprehensive report that supports you to identify your progress, next steps, and goals. 

Updated on: 26 Mar 2019

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NZC Update 7 – Te Kotahitanga

This update focuses on findings from Te Kotahitanga and highlights how this programme has produced positive gains for Māori students by influencing leadership, teaching, and learning in participating schools. The key messages and guiding questions can help you reflect on your own practice.

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Student from Papakowhai School.

Papakowhai School – Using the MASAM framework 

Papakowhai School uses the MASAM self review framework to help ensure they are delivering a culturally responsive curriculum. Principal Mark Smith explains how the framework has supported his school’s journey in enabling Māori students to achieve success as Māori. Mark offers advice to other schools wanting to develop the framework to guide their own self review.