The link below enables you to download a paper entitled Partnerships with Indigenous Communities: Modifying the Cultural Mainstream (Glynn, Berryman, Walker, Reweti & O’Brien, 2001) to read, share and consider. You will see that our kuia whakaruruhau from Te Kotahitanga, the late Rangiwhakaehu Walker and the late Mate Reweti, were authors of this paper.

In this paper the pōwhiri provides a powerful analogy of the process of inclusion based on respect for differences. The pōwhiri provides us with four guidelines for establishing relationships with indigenous people that are based on mutual respect and trust.

  1. The relationship needs to be initiated by the indigenous people, with people from the dominant culture taking the less powerful, responsive, role. They are not in charge. They are visitors in someone else’s space.
  2. Interaction needs to occur within cultural space over which indigenous people have control. This is to ensure that indigenous languages, metaphors and cultural processes are validated, affirmed and take precedence.
  3. Majority culture members need to demonstrate respect for the cultural space and cultural context in which they find themselves. They need to adopt the less-powerful position, concentrating on listening and understanding, and not on controlling and directing the proceedings.
  4. Proposals for new initiatives, or for collaboration on a new project - however important they may seem - should not be presented unless or until these prior processes have taken place. There is a further parallel here with a personal relationship. It is the less-powerful partner, (in this context the indigenous people), and not the more-powerful partner, who determines whether any such initiatives are appropriate and effective.
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Partnerships with indigenous people: Modifying the cultural mainstream
(Glynn, Berryman, Walker, Reweti & O’Brien, 2001)


Consider and discuss how these guidelines from pōwhiri relate to a culturally responsive pedagogy of relations.

Narratives from Culture Speaks [Download 5]

Narratives from whānau contained within Culture Speaks (Bishop & Berryman, 2006) provide some valuable insights into Māori parent’s experiences of engagement or lack of engagement with schools. Use these five extracts and discussion frameworks across your team. Compare and contrast the findings from each one and consider what you have learned about connecting with Māori communities: whānau, hapū and iwi.

Extract 1:

It is about respect and relationships. Respect and relationships between the staff of the school and the families whose children come here. At some primary schools, the Pākehā teachers have had to make space for Māori kids and their parents because we need to rely on each other in these small places. We need to know each other well and that means at school as well.

Secondary schools have hardly done anything to involve parents, even Pākehā parents because secondary school think they know what is best for the education of the children there. They don’t want parents to be part of it really. They don’t want to be accountable to us. They want the kids there from 9 to 3.30 and if the kids don’t learn then it’s everyone else’s fault but the school’s. Like ‘they come from low socio-economic homes’, ‘the parents can’t control the kids’, ‘they aren’t fed right’, ‘drugs’, ‘wagging’, ‘their friends’, ‘no gear’, etc. Anything else but the relationship and respect between the school and the students and the school and the parents (Parent, School 2).


Key questions

  1. What barriers for home-school connections has this parent identified?
  2. How can these barriers be addressed and overcome?
  3. How is a culturally responsive pedagogy of relations relevant/not relevant to the situation described above?

Extract 2:

The Europeans, when they came to New Zealand, were of British stock. The British Empire was expanding across the globe, and we soon understood that they thought of us as ignorant, that we were savages, and that we were arrogant. The world-view of the British at that time was that they were superior.

They were arrogant you know, it was kind of white supremacy in a sense at that time. So that was their prevailing point of view at the time and – so how did that affect us? Well, by the way they interacted with us at the very beginning. They tried to sow the seeds of a sense of unworthiness in us, in our very foundations, you know in our interactions, and in our relationships. We had to deal with the repercussions of being told that we are unworthy to the roots of our whole system, our society.

And that’s what we are still trying to do today with the Treaty of Waitangi and all that. That’s how it all still impacts on our kids. It’s all these things. It’s kind of why it’s still happening in our society. That’s what I believe. We are trying to talk about the kid’s education, but actually, to me, the issues are a lot deeper or bigger, yeah.

It’s really the value system. I think the question we should ask them is not what we have to give up to get ahead for him or her. You know, what is our desire, what is our greatest desire, together with education? You know, what is going to drive us and motivate us to be there? (Whānau member, School 5).

Key questions

  1. What things would have to be evident in your school to convince whānau, hapū or iwi that you understood this position and were committed to ensuring their tamariki could enjoy educational success as Māori?
  2. How could this narrative be used as a resource and incorporated into student learning, from staff and leadership professional development?


Extract 3:

They fail academically, and then schools give the message that Māori only do well in kapahaka [performing group] and some sports. You know, if you are Māori, you can sing and play the guitar, that kind of mentality.

Some other examples of this mentality are that the kapahaka group is good enough to be pulled out for visitors, for prize-giving but not good enough to be part of the curriculum. The school says when and where they want the kapahaka group to perform. The kapahaka tutors aren’t paid, and the girls have to practise mainly out of class time. What does that say about the importance of Māori?

What are the real signs that being Māori matters at this college? Is it that we have a kapahaka group? Is it that parents, we have to resurrect our own whānau support group to support our daughters, or is it that the school runs a Māori Achievers' group that supports the Māori students who are already achieving? Who does that work for? (Parent, School 3).

Key questions

  1. What are the real signs that being Māori matter in your school?
  2. What is culturally appropriate about this situation, and what would be more culturally responsive?

Extract 4:

Things Māori are not much in the syllabus. I mean they aren’t valued as much as western stuff is. Māori stuff is studied as something separate. It’s not part of everyday school - simple things like how kids move on mats, sitting on tables.

I guess some of the teachers need to have a greater experience of things Māori. Not just one night staying on a marae [cultural meeting space] because they have to. What would be of more use would be some longer time on a marae with the parents for exchange of ideas. I guess teachers need to experience our discomfort so that they will become more aware of how monocultural the education at this school is. Not a ‘them and us’, but I think, first time, I’d like to be in a place where I’m comfortable [laughter]. It needs to be where we can have our kids as well.

A place where our kuia and kuamatua [Māori elders] could guide us, and we could eat and work as partners (Parent, School 2).


Key questions

  1. How does your school currently meet the aspirations of this parent?
    • In the classroom?
    • In the wider school context?
  2. What do you need to do in order to meet the aspirations of this parent?

Extract 5:

Whānau expressed a desire for school to be more accessible:

It’s only this year that I have actually felt that I could walk into a school ground, be in the midst of teachers and actually feel they’re just like me. You know I’m 35, and it’s only this year! I’ve got nine children counting the one at college now. Six of them have been to college, and three are still at primary school, and it’s only now, this year, that I felt that the teachers were – just people. There doesn’t seem to be a wall there anymore!
What made the difference?
I’m respected for who I am (Parent, School 1).
If you received a letter saying you could visit the college next week to see your children’s classes, would you come?
I don’t have a problem with that.
Neither do I.
I’d probably be a bit shy.
It’s impersonal when you get a bit of paper. No, I don’t think I’d come (Parents, School 1).
What might help you to come to school?
Last year the Parents' Support group came to our door. They were starting a whānau group. We had a chat. We knew them, but apart from that, they told us what they’d like to do and what they were about. It wasn’t just once, you know it was several times. They’d pop in or ring up and come and have a chat. ‘Do you want to come to a meeting?’ It was making the school more accessible. We went together. They told me that hopefully, one of the outcomes from this study will be to make the school more accessible for whānau so that we have some say in our child’s education (Parent, School 1).

Key questions

  1. What options are available for parents to access your school?
  2. What other options have/would you consider?


Interrogating your Whānau, Hapū, Iwi Relationships [Download 6]


The research detailed in this module reports on studies that have been undertaken over the past two decades and highlights the benefits of connecting with Māori whānau. Another important consideration for schools in this era of post Treaty of Waitangi settlements is that many iwi have worked alongside their whānau and hapū to develop strategic education plans that are focused on advancing educational outcomes for their Māori students.

Consider the following questions as conversation starters for interrogating the status of the relationships that currently exist between your school and your Māori community.


The importance of partnerships in the process of transitioning

It has been nearly forty years since kōhanga reo (pre-school Māori language nests) first emerged as an alternative education option for Māori whānau, hapū and iwi.

Throughout the past four decades the availability of Māori medium language education options for primary school students has steadily increased, and while some parents have chosen to send their children on to wharekura (Māori immersion secondary schools) when this is an option, others have made the decision to send their children to mainstream, English-medium secondary schools.

Students transitioning from Māori-medium language settings to English medium schools represent a group of students who need careful consideration as failing to recognise the impact of transition to English on the lives
of students who have been immersed in and learned through the medium of Māori language can be undermining and detrimental; to te reo Māori, to the students themselves and to their whānau. Recently we found evidence to show that unwittingly, this situation is occurring in Te Kotahitanga schools.

Many school whānau are concerned about the lack of consistent application of transition practices, active monitoring and evaluation of specific transition practices, and informed sharing of information between home and school. For example, what impact does transition to English have on the lives of the students and their whānau? Are current transition practices effective, or even adequate? How have students benefited from these types of practices? How can we do things better?

The school in this video clip has made a koha of the Pause Prompt Praise reading tutoring strategies to the parents of some of these students. In turn, these parents are working with iwi to spread the koha further.

Video 12: Easing the transition


Key thoughts

"One thing that schools need to do is to identify these students early. One thing that I would recommend for these students is to not receive the same barrage of tests as everyone else because that will give a deficit picture
 of where they are. It might mean asking the previous school what their proficiency was in Māori language."

"We didn’t want him falling into the gaps and be one of their statistics… I need him to have a good life… it’s 
really important."

Key questions

  1. What are the challenges for Māori students as they transition from Māori-medium contexts? What 
does your school currently do in order to address these challenges?
  2. Partnerships between schools and whānau, and between schools and contributing schools, support students to transition successfully from Māori-medium education settings into English-medium education settings.
    • How does your school work with the parents of students who are transitioning from Māori-medium schools to facilitate successful transition into English medium education?
    • How does your school work in partnership with contributing Māori-medium schools to facilitate successful transition into English- medium education?

Home-School Partnership
 configuration Map

(after Hall & Hord, 2006; Bishop, O’Sullivan 
& Berryman, 2010)

Configuration maps have been used previously in the Te Kotahitanga professional development as a means to analyse the effectiveness of leadership and institutions. In such cases, school leaders have reflected on their leadership practice and the institutions that exist within their schools and have plotted themselves (and 
the institutions) in relation to GPILSEO along a continuum of 5–1.

We have developed and included in this module a configuration map for home-school partnerships. While we would encourage school leadership teams to reflect on their practices within the dimensions of GPILSEO, and
 to plot themselves along the continuum, we suggest you first consider the configuration map from the perspectives of the school partners – Māori whānau, hapū and/or iwi.

Prior to completing the configuration map, we recommend you view the following video clip which is entitled 
“You’re welcome to come here”. In this clip, the father of a Māori student describes his experience of having a school principal making personal contact with him to invite him along to the school assembly in order to watch his daughter receive an award.


Video 13: You're welcome to come here

Key questions

  1. How far are members of your school willing to go to initiate relationships with your Māori whānau and community?
  2. How ‘welcome’ are whānau in your school beyond the traditional, school determined parent-school events?
  3. What systems and structures exist in your school that create barriers (intended or otherwise) between the people inside the school and those outside of its gates?

Home - School Partnership Configuration Map [Download 7]