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Leading whole-school te reo Māori development

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The staff and board of Hukanui School decided that they would like to focus on te reo Māori development within their school. Principal David Mossop explains that it is very important as a leader to provide clear direction and to identify with the staff - "Because when you are starting something new, you need to all be walking together.

Hukanui School stories

Professional learning conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context.

Promoting professional conversations

A school leader displaying the cultural competency ako, takes responsibility for their own learning and that of Māori learners. He/She:

  • actively displays a genuine commitment to Māori learner success
  • consciously sets goals, monitors and strategically plans for higher achievement levels of Māori learners
  • actively prioritises Māori learner achievement, including accelerated progress of Māori learners achieving below or well below expected achievement levels
  • implements a teacher appraisal system that specifically includes Māori learner achievement as a focus
  • provides and supports ongoing professional learning and development for staff that strengthens the school/centre’s ability to raise Māori learner achievement
  • actively ensures that Māori learners have access to high quality, culturally relevant programmes and services
  • is personally committed to, and actively works on their own professional learning and development with regard to Māori learner achievement. 

Tātaiako - Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners: A resource for use with the Graduating Teacher Standards and Registered Teacher Criteria 

  • Consider how David Mossop led te reo Māori development at Hukanui School. Which of the bulleted statements above are exemplified in the story?
  • In what ways do you ensure consistency of teaching and learning of te reo Māori across your school?
  • Hukanui School brought in some experts to help them. Who in your local community or iwi might be able to help you on this journey?
  • How can you build the language capacity of a team of teachers so that they can then disseminate that capacity throughout the rest of the school?
  • What are your school's next steps? How can you strengthen teaching and learning of te reo Māori?


I think that I want to keep on learning it until I get quite good, because I enjoy learning that and I think that because I’m Māori I should keep on learning it, and everyone else should as well.

We decided to work on developing our delivery of the Māori curriculum and revise our Māori programme. Following really our ERO report it was an area that we decided as a school that we needed further development on. As a staff, and as a board we were all agreed on that - so that was the starting point really.

I think it’s important as a leader that you provide clear direction as to where you’re going. And I think it’s also very important that you identify with the staff because when you are starting something new, you’re starting a new development programme, you need to be walking with them. It’s not something that’s come down from the top necessarily, it’s something that we’re on a journey together. They need to know that. That you’re all on that journey together. The board of trustees is also very supportive, but it’s very important to keep them in touch and let them know the value of the programme and things that we’re doing.  

It just shows the weight I think that the principal gave to the project. To actually have someone go in every week, nearly every day, for two years - just te reo Māori. So the teachers are really lucky I think and they’ve responded really well. Someone came up to me yesterday and said they just love the relationship nature how we do it, you know, the korero at the end of the lesson, always allow time to discuss things, areas of confusions. So that’s been really important for the teachers too. That it hasn’t just been a top down, walk in, no you’re not doing this right, you need to do this, this and that, and then walk out again and leave them to it.

It’s been really good having someone like Nadine on staff who you can go and see for all your questions and you’ve got that source of knowledge and expertise there that you can just tap into when you need it.

I think it’s been a very rewarding and very enjoyable journey, to see the development that's happened in our Māori programme - and I think on many levels. I think for me as a principal it’s very rewarding to see the consistency throughout the school and the way in which teachers have approached it. It’s very rewarding also to see the children who are speaking naturally and bringing te reo into different contexts. They're doing that sometimes without the direction of the teacher - it’s something that is transferring, they’re transferring the knowledge and skill into new situations.

I think learning te reo Māori is important because if people don’t learn it, over the years it will start to deteriorate. In the end no one will know what to say and stuff.

I think it’s important because it’s our culture, if you were born in New Zealand it’s your culture.

Also for me to see the teacher knowledge - their skill improving and their confidence. Building that capacity within the teachers I think has been really key. And I must say firstly to build that capacity in the team that is actually leading the Māori team who is leading the development that is really important.

The way in which we approach the development of a curriculum focus area is the same model that we’ve used in other areas. For example, in our literacy developing our writing and reading we used a very similar model. I believe strongly in developing a team of teachers who can lead it within the school building their capacity and allowing them to grow first and to have PD from outside sources sometimes or to bring experts in. Then those teachers then lead the development, I find that it’s a lot better take with the rest of the teachers and they are lead by people they trust. So it’s been a very successful model for us in the past we’ve applied that with the development of our Māori curriculum as well.

I think it’s vital that the language is taught with effective methodology. The children acquire the language better, it’s just more effective.

The vision from here is really to keep developing what we’re doing. It’s something that we don’t want to be a flash in a pan, sustaining what we’ve done is really important. I want to see it continue to be just a part of who we are and a part of what we do at Hukanui, it’s one of our priorities. One of our learning priorities for our children. So really I’d just like to see that continue to grow.

Published on: 10 Apr 2013