Building relationships with iwi

Investigating the extent to which Kāhui Ako have engaged with iwi in determining achievement challenges and finding solutions is essential for two related reasons. Firstly, one policy intent of Kāhui Ako is to accelerate progress and raise achievement for all students, particularly Māori students who are more likely to be underserved by an education system that does not yet provide equity and excellence for all students.[3] Secondly, in the development and implementation of Kāhui Ako, the Ministry and schools have an obligation to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi responsibilities of partnership, participation, and protection. These obligations are heightened when the purpose of collaboration is to accelerate progress and raise achievement for Māori learners.


The Northcote Kāhui Ako acknowledged that they had minimal engagement with iwi up to this point of their journey. This was predominantly due to a lack of awareness and confidence around how to meaningfully engage with iwi, rather than a desire to be exclusive. Moving forward, the Kāhui Ako is eager to develop resources that capture local history to build a deeper understanding of the socio‑cultural context of their community.


Iwi participation

All schools in the Ōtūmoetai Kāhui Ako fall within the Ngāti Ranginui iwi rohe. The majority of students are drawn from all three iwi in Tauranga Moana: Ngāti Ranginui; Ngai te Rangi; and Ngāti Pukenga. The Kāhui Ako provided an opportunity to involve iwi in accelerating educational outcomes for students in the rohe. Iwi were invited to be on the steering committee and contribute to governance and management. However, both sides recognised the potential for constrained involvement because iwi are not resourced as Kāhui Ako participants. The Kāhui Ako lead, together with other steering committee members, is looking to address the capacity issues faced by iwi to make sure their engagement is sustainable. The Kāhui Ako actively participates in iwi liaison meetings organised by the Ministry to continue to discuss how authentic, and purposeful engagement with iwi can be achieved. Iwi believe they have a strong contribution to make.

Building a relationship with the wharekura

While prior relationships existed between the principals in this geographic area, the engagement and active participation of the wharekura in the Ōtūmoetai Kāhui Ako represents a significant shift. The wharekura motives for joining the Kāhui Ako were clear. At a strategic level, it offered an opportunity to influence issues of Māori achievement in their area. At a practical level, the tumuaki wanted to find ways of accessing resources in science and mathematics for NCEA Level 2 and Level 3 students. On both fronts, the benefits of the collaboration were felt across the Kāhui Ako.

Typically, the wharekura primary relationship was with another secondary school who was not a member of the Kāhui Ako. Joining the Kāhui Ako enabled the wharekura to access the skills and expertise of the science and mathematics teachers from Ōtūmoetai College. Conversely, the staff at Ōtūmoetai College had an opportunity to improve their understanding of culturally responsive pedagogy – teachers’ world views of teaching in Māori‑medium settings expanded beyond what any PLD could offer them, and they have felt privileged to be given this opportunity. In addition, some of the teaching and pastoral care strategies used in wharekura were finding their way into Ōtūmoetai College, which has a significant number of Māori students. This cross‑fertilisation could not have been possible without the supporting structure of the Kāhui Ako. As a staff member from the wharekura commented:

“As a result of our engagement in the Kāhui Ako, we are in a position to offer technical subjects to our learners. We are fulfilling our responsibility to offer the best opportunities for our mokopuna.”

“Our relationship with the college has undergone huge changes. They now come to the wharekura and can see we do things differently. They can see that the pedagogy we use for teaching is different and they take that understanding back to their own students.”


Partnering with iwi

The Waimate Kāhui Ako lead, as the principal of the secondary school, had established relationships with the staff at the rūnanga at Waihao and had collaborated with them in the past. The lead approached the rūnanga seeking their support and engagement in the Kāhui Ako. They were involved from the beginning and contributed to the discussions around the logo and achievement challenges. The rūnanga viewed the decision to use the raupo reed as a symbol of their aspirations as an expression of the Kāhui Ako’s commitment to improving Māori student wellbeing and achievement. Specific actions include Ngai Tahu‑led plans for a consultation hui with the parent community across all schools in the Kāhui Ako; the translation of the Kāhui Ako charter into te reo; and plans to hold a joint hui on cultural responsiveness, led by the rūnanga and involving all Kāhui Ako schools’ teachers. 

While it is still early days, both the Kāhui Ako lead and the marae elder have seen the potential for working together to build cultural understanding and a local curriculum. They have proceeded slowly in this regard. The fact that there was originally no iwi or rūnanga representative on the stewardship group was noted and an iwi representative was appointed to the group.

Acknowledging the cultural history of Waimate

The choice of raupo reeds as an identifying image in the logo is particularly appropriate and well captured in the whakataukī of this Kāhui Ako. This particular type of raupō waka is used for the mōkihi (raupō canoe) – this is indigenous to New Zealand and to the Waimate area. The technology is handed down from the original Waitaha people through the Kāti Māmoe migration, then later Ngāi Tahu and finally Takata Pora. The local Hayman family was reputed to be excellent mōkihi makers in their day. Locally the technology was retained and passed on to the current generation of local Waihao Māori and the Te Maihāroa whānau.

The importance of this technology in the development of the district and its use by all succeeding inhabitants resulted in a gift of a mōkihi made by the Te Maihāroa whānau on the 150th celebration of the Waimate District and it now sits outside the Waimate District Council building.

“To see this principle reflected in the logo of the Waimate Kāhui Ako resonates in such a positive way. It gives a real sense of excitement about the potential and future of the Waimate Community of Learning and learners in our community.”– Wendy Heath, Waihao Marae,