Naenae College, Lower Hutt


Naenae College is a decile 2, co-educational secondary school, located in Lower Hutt. The roll is nearly 750 and is ethnically diverse, including more than 40 different nationalities. Māori students make up 31 percent of the school roll and 22 percent of the roll are Pacific students.

Te Whānau Tahi and timetabling

In 2007, a new principal was appointed and a new board of trustees elected, taking over from two statutory managers, appointed by the Ministry in 2004 and 2005. There remained considerable concerns about student safety and poor levels of academic achievement.

The board and principal made the conscious decision to improve the social interactions in the college; to promote core values that recognised the diversity of the school population as a strength and to build on that. To maximise students’ academic achievement they focused on developing a college characterised by solution-focused attitudes, strong teamwork based on culturally respectful relationships and suitable behavioural management strategies to support those.

Te Whānau Tahi - The United Family

Te Whānau Tahi (the name of the college marae and kapa haka group) and the school motto of Kia Ihi, Kia Maru(Be strong, Be steadfast in your identity) reflect the important concepts that are a daily part of the college. They acknowledge the bi‑cultural and multi-cultural make-up of the college community. Everyone is valued, everyone is important and the tenet is that all can respect and learn from each other.

Te Whānau Tahi is about all students being engaged and achieving. It makes use of a Māori philosophical approach. At its heart is how people in the college community interact with each other. Each interaction is clearly identified and staff are provided with suggestions of how that translates into their actions.

The interactions are:

  • Whanaungatanga: taking an interest in the person, promoting self management
  • Manaakitanga: being caring and supportive of each other
  • Rangatiratanga: providing opportunities for leadership
  • Kotahitanga: learning to work together
  • Pūmanawatanga: nurturing a positive and respectful atmosphere in the classroom.

Initiatives that have supported the development of Te Whānau Tahi include:

  • Multicultural day: when each one of the 44 nationalities that make up the college, is recognised, celebrated and its flag displayed in the school hall
  • Ako: reciprocal learning and teaching in a spirit of partnership and acknowledging the richness of what students bring to the classrooms
  • High expectations: the absolute belief that college can and will make a difference for students, regardless of socio-economic status or other perceived deficit. Key goals include raising attendance, retention, engagement and achievement (AREA)
  • Te Whānau Tahi: also the name given to the programme to raise the levels of achievement for Māori and Pacific students. The programme draws on the work of Te Kotahitanga, He Kākano and Ako Panuku1 contracts
  • Staff professional learning: focused on cultural capital so teachers can appreciate, value and use that capital as the basis for extended learning
  • The Rock and Water programme: delivered to Year 9 and 10 students, through the Health curriculum. This programme raises student self belief, extends social connections, empowers students, and defines expectations for ‘how we behave’ at Naenae College
  • Regular promotion of values: throughout the college systems, clear and focused paperwork and professional learning.

Senior leaders are well aware that changes in a school community evolve over time. They carefully monitor progress towards their goals, refining processes as they grow.


Senior leaders recognise that Naenae College students respond well when good relationships are established within the school community. To encourage this, changes have been made to the timetable, creating time for teachers to develop more meaningful learning relationships with their students.

  • 100 minute periods: One of these takes place every day and provides teachers with the opportunity to be more flexible in their teaching; for example to use the Inquiry Learning approach, to engage in deeper classroom discussions, or to work more with students one-on-one.
  • 40 minute rōpū2 sessions: Four of these each week allow Learning Advisors (LA) to deliver the LA programme that reinforces restorative practices together with the standards set around AREA and PB4L goals. Learning Advisors monitor student progress and guide them on their learning journey through Naenae College. They are the first point of contact between whānau and the school.
  • Professional learning: One morning each week staff have an hour timetabled for professional development. Everyone participates in the professional learning programme to build toward a vibrant, literate learning community in the college.