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Ministry of Education.

School engagement

The Professional Development Director of He Kākano describes the willingness of participating schools to look at things differently, to engage more broadly to bring about better learning outcomes for Māori students.


We have got a huge political will and we can understand that from Ka Hikitia. We only have to look at the national education guidelines, the national administration guidelines, our new curriculum, to show that there’s a massive will to look at things differently. And I think that what we have in He Kākano, with these schools that are putting up their hand, is saying that yes, we have a will, help us find a way.

I think that part of it is about actually understanding and accepting that the answers do reside ultimately within. Professor Smith talked about the 25-year revolution and he was talking about what are the fundamental shifts that have actually happened in this country from 1982, which was the inception of, or at least the instructional embedding of, Kohanga Reo, through to 2007. And he said that the biggest shift was actually two inches and it was between our ears. Alright, and it was about a shift in belief, a shift in values. You can see evidence of that. People are prepared to actually look at a politics of discomfort in a way that they’ve not been prepared to look at before. And I think that what we’re seeing now is principals are for the first time saying that perhaps I don’t know all there is to know, and that sometimes when I say ‘I know’, it’s a very costly exercise because it shuts down the opportunity for other ‘knowings’. When we provide definitive answers, it closes us off to new learning opportunities.

I think it is about suggesting to this group here that there is capacity that exists within each of those schools, but that as a leader it’s not just simply about being culturally responsive, it’s not just simply about looking out to what’s happening in the classrooms in these schools, with whānau themselves. There’s a close alignment between what the two groups want, and that is a better educational future for Māori kids. So, to try and facilitate some of those conversations together, so that the journey can be shared and can be taken in ways where the integrity of both is sustained.

He Kākano, at the end of the day, we have to work ourselves into a position of being dispensable, not indispensable, because I think that if we continue to be needed in those contexts, in some ways we’ve failed. Because the schools here have a fundamental relationship that is embedded in the context of the communities in which they’re operating, and they’ve got to facilitate an institutional culture that recognises the ability to enhance and to embrace and to recognise diversity in ways that is embedded systemically.

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