Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:


Culturally responsive practice

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

Tags: Te Mana Kōrero




At Ruawai Primary School in Northland, Karen Matich has included in her literacy programme the local kōrero of how five mountains took their place in the landscape.

Karen Matich – Teacher, Ruawai School

I have a zeroing-in time, and the children are aware that if I'm asking one child to answer, they know that it’s a hands down time and it’s their turn to answer.

I have got very bright Māori children in my class and I want them to recognise where they can go. And I want them to want to go there.


Students work together in small groups to develop their skills, before having to contribute in front of the whole class.

Karen Matich

I went to a classroom the other day and the children were told not to copy, and I thought, “Gosh, I haven't heard that for quite some time”. We don't call it copying – we call it sharing, we call it interacting, we call it suggesting. It’s going on the whole time, and to work with a partner is probably the best way. It’s that interaction between the children that is going on at that little quiet group where they are discussing, they are arguing, they are sort of quietly trying to put their point across. And that is what I'm fostering in that room, the fact that they value each others opinion.


The culmination of the unit is the retelling of the kōrero to an audience.

Making it clear to the students what they can achieve next is critically important. Working with Karen has been Gaye Byers.

Gaye Byers – Literacy Facilitator Northland

It’s having very high expectations of students, but having expectations that students know the steps to actually achieve. That there’s no secret about this – it’s actually right there written for them. The teacher knows where they are going, the students know where they’re aiming for, and they know where they stand in that achievement. So that the next steps are very visible to them.


Even the students of this age prove capable of providing effective and constructive feedback to their peers.

Jo Beaumont – Teacher, Whāngārei Intermediate

The whole time it’s critical thinking, it’s listening to what is happening, it’s working out how can we make that better. It went very well because it’s very local. They can associate the rocks now with the legend of the Northern Wairoa. And they are aware of the history behind them.


At Kapiti College, a social studies unit on special places is an opportunity for teacher Paora Trim to ensure the students are made aware of their own heritage and place in the world.

Paora Trim – Teacher, Kapiti College

I think it’s of vital importance that the kids know where they are from regardless of your cultural background. They need to know where they are from and where they fit into this society, and into the community. And finding out where you are from can very often lead to other things. You know, having an extensive pride in yourself, being more understanding of other cultures, and other people.


The college bi-cultural committee is part of a process of strengthening the learning community. It builds teachers’ awareness, confidence, and knowledge, to better meet the needs of their Māori students.

Barbara Knight - Teacher, Kapiti College

We spent a great deal of last year developing our staff resource book. And in there are things like waiata, karakia; there are legends to do with our area; how to pronounce things correctly. You know, you have to start at a basic level, and for myself it was getting out of my comfort zone. Using the language in the classroom – that is the biggest step. I think that’s one of our roles as Bicultural Committee – to take the fear factor away. I think we’re a fairly relaxed group, everybody knows everybody, you know, we’re part of the staff. And we’ve developed strategies through professional development to make it less scary, I hope. And that people will... take a risk and start using it in the class. What I like about the bicultural committee really is that they’re representatives from all areas of the school. It’s just not the Māori department that runs the bicultural committee.

John Russell – Principal, Kapiti College

The worst thing you can have is saying, that belongs to the Māori Department or that belongs to the English Department because it’s part of their curriculum or the social studies do a unit on the Treaty or something else. It’s not about that, it’s about infusing the whole culture of the school and the classrooms right across.

Paora Trim

I personally think there is no child within our schooling system or anywhere that wants to fail. I think that there is... we are sort of lacking in some respects a recipe in order to get there.

Russell Bishop – School of Education, Waikato University

We've seen lots and lots of young Māori students academically engaged with each other and with their teachers. The other thing we have seen is that their absenteeism starts to reduce. This idea that Māori kids are absentee is because they are naughty or they are off smoking dope or shoplifting or something. It’s interesting isn't it that when the classroom environment changes, their engagement goes up, their academic achievement goes up, their absenteeism goes down. Now what does that tell you about absenteeism at the moment? It tells us that in fact absenteeism amongst Māori students is a major resistance strategy against horrible educational experiences.


Basically if you don't learn you can't do nothing. If you don't learn how to fish, you can't fish. If you don't learn how to drive a car, you can't drive a car. So there is nothing without learning. So you have to learn. You need to stay in school and you have to learn.

My aspirations: first Māori Prime Minister. I'm going to rule the world.

^ back to top