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Te Mana Kōrero - Background

The video clips for Te Mana Kōrero focus on the need to build, and sustain, strong and effective school-whānau partnerships, in order to raise Māori student achievement. Such partnerships are characterised by both parties respecting and valuing each other's perspectives and contributions.

There are three key priority themes in the video clips; namely ako, culture counts, and productive partnerships.


This is about effective teaching and learning. The concept of ako describes a teaching and learning relationship where the educator is also learning from the student and where educators’ practices (which are both deliberate and reflective) are informed by the latest research.

Ako is grounded in the principle of reciprocity, and recognises that the learner and whānau cannot be separated. It also acknowledges that everyone is a learner and learns in different ways.

Culture counts

This is about validating and valuing culture; for example, knowing where students come from and building on what they bring with them. It relates to the principle of indigeneity, which recognises cultural distinctiveness. This allows Māori to be culturally-located people in any learning context. Because Māori students are part of a whānau, they do not come to school as ‘individuals’; they bring their whānau with them, in terms of identity and aspirations

Productive Partnerships

This is about maximising Māori student learning outcomes by creating partnerships between Māori students, educators and whānau. In such partnerships we see the sharing of knowledge and expertise. We acknowledge that whānau have expertise, information and influence that can be shared, to scaffold student learning. Conversely, we recognize that educators have expertise they can share with whānau.

Within productive partnerships, learning is personalised. This puts every student and their achievement at the heart of education, recognising that one size does not fit all. Personalising learning is about partnerships focused on learning. It is about a whole education system where everyone sees themselves as having an important role to play, and accepts the associated personal and professional responsibilities.


In addition to the three aforementioned key themes, the video clips associated with Te Mana Kōrero focus on pedagogical practices that will help build effective school-whānau partnerships. Examples include:

  • linking to students’ prior learning by selecting authentic kaupapa that they (and their whānau) can relate to
  • using an inquiry approach to seek answers to questions
  • communicating to students (and their whānau) what it is they are learning, and why
  • co-constructing with students the learning intentions and success criteria.


The video clips are based on empirical evidence from local and international research about the benefits of collaborative and sustainable relationships between teachers, families and whānau. Several studies show that home-school partnerships play a significant role in students’ educational success. Examples highlighted in Te Mana Kōrero include Durie’s framework for Māori educational advancement; Alton-Lee’s best evidence synthesis on quality teaching for diverse students; and Biddulph’s findings about the flow-on effect of productive partnerships into adult life and civic participation.

Questions / Things to think about / Activities

  1. What does/could ako (reciprocal teaching and learning) look like in our classrooms? This could be learner: learner; teacher: learner; whānau: students; or whānau: teacher. How is knowledge shared and valued? How can we give students more power; for example, by allowing them to choose the context for learning, within an inquiry process?
  2. What evidence is there in our school of whānau and educators being open to learning from, and with, each other, in the true spirit of ako?
  3. One of the outcomes of Ka Hikitia, the Ministry's Māori education strategy, is that Māori students will be ‘successfully participating in, and contributing to, te ao Māori’. How does our school encourage Māori students to participate in, and contribute to, the Māori world? How do we show them that being Māori is an advantage?
  4. Ka Hikitia identifies Māori language education as an area of vulnerability for Māori students. How do we ensure that Māori students are able to access te reo Māori as an option? How can we show that we value te reo Māori? What ways are there for us to support the Māori language teacher/s in our school, so that they in turn can enhance the quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms? Examples could include getting them to focus on curriculum goals; providing requisite resources; and ensuring appropriate teaching methods and assessment practices.
  5. What ideas do we have for getting whānau members involved in curriculum planning for learning? For example, how might we go about co-constructing relevant learning contexts?
  6. The Māori child is not an individual; s/he is part of a whānau, hapū and iwi. How can we show that we value these holistic foundations, as we strive to build effective home-school relationships? How can we find out about students’ social and cultural backgrounds? One example could be to talk with students themselves or whānau, friends, and other teachers.
  7. In what ways can we let whānau know what their children are learning (and why), what the success criteria are, what they are achieving (against goals), and what they could do better?
  8. In the BES on quality learning for diverse students in schooling (page 38), it is stated that ‘... particularly strong and sustained gains in student achievement [are] made when schools and families develop partnerships to support student achievement at school’. Similarly, the BES on school leadership and student outcomes (p8) concludes that ‘... when community funds of knowledge are effectively used to strengthen teaching, there are large achievement gains ...’. How are we applying this evidence in our school? Who are the different types of ‘experts’ in our community who could motivate Māori students, impart local knowledge, and share their skills?

Filed under: Productive partnerships | Identity Language and Culture | Ako | Effective teachers

Tags: Te Mana Kōrero

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