Ngā Haeata Mātauranga: Annual Report on Māori Education 2005

Publication Details

This report published annually provides an overview of Māori education, from early childhood to the tertiary sector. It includes initiatives specifically directed to Māori. Statistical analysis is also included.

Author(s): Group Māori, Ministry of Education

Date Published: August 2006

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This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box).  The 'Where to Find Out More' inset box has links to related publications/ information that may be of interest.  Appendices are available as downloads on this webpage (below).

Executive Summary

Ngā Haeata Mātauranga – Annual Report on Māori Education, 2005 provides an overview of Māori education, from early childhood through to tertiary. The report looks at key themes influencing the Ministry of Education's approach towards Māori education as articulated in the Māori Education Strategy (refer to chapter one). It includes an update on policies and programmes designed to improve educational outcomes for all learners, including Māori. It refers to the latest research evidence and data to highlight key issues and achievements in Māori education.

The Ministry's direction for Māori education continues to be informed by the government's outcomes for Māori education (see appendix one), the government's Education Priorities, the Ministry's strategic goals and three vital outcomes outlined in the Statement of Intent 2005–2010, the strategic work arising from the Hui Taumata Mātauranga, and the growing number of education partnerships forged among iwi and Māori groups and the Ministry.

Key areas of focus for Māori education continue to be:

  • engaging whānau, hapū, iwi, and the wider community
  • strengthening kaupapa Māori education
  • building early learning foundations
  • raising achievement at school
  • encouraging lifelong learning.

Engaging whānau, hapū, iwi and the wider community

The latest educational research suggests that a learner's education success is influenced by a wide range of experiences – those had at school, within the community, and at home.

Research shows that whānau and communities who are engaged in and support their whānau's learning dramatically shape children's aspirations and expectations. Findings also show that, regardless of their circumstances, almost all parents want to support their children's learning as much as they can.

One of the Ministry's main strategic goals is to help increase the participation of whānau and community in the education system at all levels, recognising that, with the right information and support from education and government agencies, whānau, hapū, iwi, and the wider community will be in a better place to nurture and support their children's learning.

In 2005, the Ministry sought to increase the engagement and participation of whānau, hapū, iwi, and the wider community through a range of policies and initiatives focused on supporting the education success of Māori learners.

Some of the year's key highlights are listed below.

  • The continued development of the Ministry's iwi and Māori education partnerships, partnerships characterised by collaboration and the common goal of ensuring the educational success of Māori learners.
  • The number of primary and secondary schools consulting with their Māori community increased to 88 percent by 2003, according to the Education Review Office (ERO).1
  • 2005 marked the second year of schools using computerised student management systems to record the iwi affiliation of all Māori new entrants – an important first step towards gathering information about iwi participation and achievement.
  • The launch of the sector-wide Team-Up information programme for whānau and communities, seeking to increase people's awareness of the importance of whānau engagement in their children's education.
  • Finalising the results of a nationwide whānau engagement programme called Let's Talk Special Education (involving more than 5,000 parents and 395 meetings) and the set up of regional parent reference groups that aim to ensure the perspectives of whānau are better integrated into special education policy and services.
  • Ongoing support for schools (and other education providers and social agencies) across the country to develop ways to increase the participation of whānau, building on successful initiatives such as the Whakaaro Mātauranga Te Mana programme, and the Parents As First Teachers programme.

While the progress made in 2005 is heartening, there are still many challenges to overcome to ensure whānau are fully engaged and participate in their children's education and that teaching practice reflects the needs and aspirations of Māori learners. For example, the sector's knowledge about how to best involve and assist whānau, hapū, and iwi to participate in and support children's learning is still evolving. Meanwhile, the Ministry itself is developing a policy framework to support this important goal.

Refer to chapter two to find out more information about the key pieces of work under way to ensure whānau are fully engaged and participate in their children's education.

Strengthening kaupapa Māori education

Kaupapa Māori education has grown and developed through the passion and efforts of Māori whānau, hapū, and iwi. It has arisen out of a shared vision and common desire to foster and retain the Māori language and culture, and to ensure learning, within this sector, is driven by and reflective of the needs of Māori learners.

In the early 80s, Aotearoa – New Zealand saw the emergence of kaupapa Māori education with the beginning of the kōhanga reo movement. Today, the kaupapa Māori education sector has evolved to include education within the schooling and tertiary sectors, too.

A broad range of literature and commentary highlights the principles of kaupapa Māori education. The principles include:

  • the learner has access to te reo Māori (Māori language), tikanga Māori (Māori customs and protocols), and mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) through te ao Māori (the Māori world) teaching and learning practices
  • Māori authority and control exists in all aspects of learning and education
  • the learner and their wider whānau is central to the learning process
  • Māori communities achieve social and economic aspirations as determined by themselves.

In this report, kaupapa Māori education describes education where students are taught using both te reo Māori and English, or using te reo Māori only. Kaupapa Māori education is found throughout the education sector. It includes education within kōhanga reo and puna kōhungahunga in early childhood education, bilingual and immersion units and classes and kura kaupapa Māori in the schooling sector, and wānanga at tertiary level.

Much of the Ministry's work in this sector throughout 2005 involved collaborating with the range of people working and taking part in kaupapa Māori education to ensure students' education was of a high-quality and provided them with a seamless pathway through the system as they get older.

Some of the year's highlights are listed below.

  • In the early childhood education sector, more than 10,000 children participated in approximately 500 kōhanga reo throughout 2005.
  • In the schooling sector, 16 percent of Māori students (or more than 25,000 students) were enrolled in kaupapa Māori (Māori-medium) schools, receiving their education through a combination of te reo Māori and English or through te reo Māori alone.
  • In 2005, Māori students in year 11, who attended schools where teaching was in te reo Māori for between 51 to 100 percent of the time, had a higher rate of attaining National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) qualifications than Māori in other schools.
  • A high proportion of candidates at schools, where teaching is in te reo Māori for between 51 to 100 percent of the time, achieved NCEA qualifications above the level typical for their year of schooling. Candidates in these settings were more likely to gain NCEA level two compared with their Māori peers in English-medium (mainstream) schools.

Looking ahead, the Ministry will continue to build on the progress it has made and turn its focus towards addressing the shortage of appropriately skilled and qualified teachers and developing educational resources for this sector.

Developing a framework for Māori Language Education is also a key priority. The framework will look at learners' ability to move easily from kōhanga reo (or any other kaupapa Māori early childhood education setting), to kaupapa Māori (Māori-medium) schooling and on to a kaupapa Māori tertiary setting such as wānanga.

Chapter three examines participation rates across the Māori language sector – from early childhood through to tertiary education. It explores academic achievement within the kaupapa Māori (Māori-medium) schooling sector and lists a range of Ministry programmes under way.

Building early learning foundations

Children who take part in early childhood education tend to adapt to school better than children who do not take part. Research shows a child's experience of early childhood education can last well into their primary years and can in fact still affect their achievement much later in life, helping give them the early learning foundations they need for life.

Children's awareness of their ethnic identity develops at a young age, and is shaped and influenced by the different social and cultural settings they encounter as they grow and develop. Kōhanga reo and other kaupapa Māori early childhood education services play an important role in fostering children's knowledge about tikanga and te reo Māori. Refer to chapter three for more information on kaupapa Māori education.

In New Zealand, early childhood education is defined as the period of education from birth to approximately five or six years of age. A significant number of children attend some form of early childhood education service. The attendance rates for Māori pre-schoolers, however, have persistently fallen behind that of other children.

Increasing participation has formed a key part of the government's work and is one of three goals in the ten-year strategic plan for early childhood education, called Ngā Huarahi Arataki, Pathways to the Future.

The three strategy aims are referred to throughout chapter four and are listed below.

  • Increasing participation in high-quality early childhood education.
  • Improving the quality of early childhood education.
  • Promoting collaborative relationships within the sector.

Research shows that affordability can be a barrier to participation for low-income whānau. Currently, whānau can access up to six hours a day of early childhood education at a subsidised rate. From 2007, whānau of children who are aged three and four will be entitled to fully-subsidised early childhood education for 20 hours per week, from teacher-led services.2

Free early childhood education for children aged three and four aims to benefit children, whānau, and society by:

  • creating stronger awareness among whānau of the benefits of having their children participate in early childhood education
  • increasing participation in early childhood education by low-income whānau
  • increasing the opportunity for whānau to participate in work, education, or training
  • aligning of the country's early childhood education sector with research findings3 that show intensive participation in early childhood education for between 15 and 25 hours each week is beneficial to children's learning and development.
  • In 2005, implementation of the early childhood strategic plan reached its third year, making a major contribution to the year's highlights, which are noted below.
  • Māori increased their participation in early childhood education at a greater rate than the general population in 2005.
  • The number of registered Māori early childhood education teachers increased from 23 to 38 percent between 2004 and 2005.
  • The number of children reported to have participated in early childhood education on entry to school was 90 percent for Māori, up slightly from 89 percent according to the latest data.4
  • The early childhood education exemplars project was launched by the Minister of Education. The exemplars were developed to help educators assess learning.
  • The early childhood information and communications technologies (ICT) framework was launched to help educators to teach and develop their professional capability.
  • The Promoting Participation Project, which started in 2001, continued to ensure that early childhood education services are more accessible to whānau and children not participating in early childhood education.

Looking ahead, ensuring the strategic plan continues to meet the needs of Māori children and their whānau will continue to be the major focus for the Ministry and the sector.

The report's fourth chapter looks at particular aspects of the early childhood education sector. It examines participation rates across the sector and explores the quality of education within the sector. It also looks at the collaborative relationships essential to the sector's ongoing success.

Raising achievement at school

New Zealand has a good education system, with high average achievement by international standards, but widespread disparity between the highest and lowest student achievement rates. Māori students, Pasifika students, and students from lower socio-economic groups are over-represented among students who underachieve.

In 2005, a new strategy for the English-medium (mainstream) schooling sector was launched, called Making a Bigger Difference for all Students: Schooling Strategy 2005–2010. The strategy highlights the importance of strengthening the effectiveness of teaching and relationships among schools, whānau, and communities for the benefit of Māori learners.

Research (the Ministry's Best Evidence Syntheses) provides evidence that there has been inequitable teaching of Māori learners over many decades (for example, through fewer teacher interactions, less positive feedback, under-assessment of capability, mispronunciation of names, and so on).5

Māori students make up a significant proportion of the school-age population. Māori learners were 19.9 percent of all domestic students in 1996, a figure that increased to 21.4 percent in 2005. In 2005, Māori made up a greater proportion of the English-medium (mainstream) school population than ever before.

Māori, like other groups, are a diverse population. Therefore, student success lies in helping teachers and schools to better cater to the diverse needs of Māori students across the achievement spectrum. This idea was at the heart of a range of projects and initiatives implemented throughout the year. Some highlights for 2005 follow.

  • A continued focus on improving teaching practice and building the evidence and research base around what works for Māori students through initiatives such as Te Kauhua, Te Kotahitanga.
  • Continued development of the literacy and numeracy assessment tool for teachers, called asTTle, and continued emphasis on teachers using data to improve and adapt their teaching practice to better meet students' learning needs.
  • The latest data showed more year 12 Māori students gained an NCEA level two qualification – up from 40 to 43 percent.
  • Meanwhile, slightly more Māori school leavers achieved qualifications at or equivalent to NCEA level two or higher according to the latest data – up from 45 to 47 percent.
  • The difference between Māori and non-Māori qualification attainment rates narrowed in year 12. However, Māori year 12 students remained more likely to gain an NCEA level one and less likely to gain an NCEA level two qualification than their non-Māori peers.

The year's truancy, suspension, and participation rates continued to show that Māori were over-represented in the group of students who had disengaged from the education system, despite the high aspirations of their whānau, hapū, and iwi.

Looking ahead, the education sector must continue working together to ensure Māori learners succeed within English-medium (mainstream) schools by continuing to focus on improving teaching practice, raising the quality of education provision, and engaging families and communities.

Chapter five looks at where the schooling sector was at in 2005. It explores student achievement, participation, and engagement, and it looks at the range of initiatives that seek to lift quality within this sector.

Encouraging lifelong learning

Encouraging New Zealanders to develop a strong interest in lifelong learning is a key priority for the Ministry.

Tertiary education helps people build their skills and knowledge. It helps people improve their standard of living and contribute positively to their various communities.

Māori, as a growing proportion of the population, play a key role in the future of the country. Māori participation at a local, national, and global level is greatly influenced by their choice of education pathway and learning new skills and knowledge. In turn, the participation of Māori in tertiary education is influenced by the ability of the tertiary system to respond to and support Māori needs and aspirations. This is especially important given the increasing focus by Māori on Māori economic development expressed at events such as the Māori economic hui held in Wellington during 2005. The hui reaffirmed the growing desire by Māori to define their own economic development pathways to ensure Māori individuals and communities prosper and ensure their wellbeing is enhanced.

There is a growing number of Māori learners choosing to move on to higher-level study after completing certificate-level learning. The number of postgraduate Māori students has also been gradually increasing in recent years. Māori research capacity has been strengthened, thanks to the emergence of centres of research excellence such as Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, hosted by the University of Auckland.

Some of this year's tertiary sector highlights are listed below:

  • Māori had the highest tertiary education participation rates of all New Zealanders in 2004.
  • A growing number of Māori learners chose to move on to higher-level study after completing certificate-level learning.
  • The number of Māori students enrolled in bachelor degree-level study grew at a slower rate than other qualification levels, but at a faster rate than that of the population as a whole.
  • The number of Māori students leaving after their first year of study dropped significantly from approximately a half to a third between 2000 and 2003, and a growing number of students moved on to further study after completing a qualification.

Looking ahead, tertiary providers and educators will need to be more outwardly focused and link more strongly to business, communities, and other external stakeholders to ensure they continue to meet local and national needs.

The Statement of Tertiary Education Priorities (STEP) 2005/07 has been released, setting out the priorities for New Zealand's tertiary education system to December 2007.

The latest STEP highlights the importance of high-quality and relevance as a focus for the sector and links teaching, learning, and research in the tertiary sector to wider social and economic outcomes, also focusing on the need to strengthen Māori development.

Wānanga will continue to play a critical role in fostering and sharing te reo Māori (Māori language), tikanga Māori (Māori customs and protocols), and mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) through te ao Māori (the Māori world) teaching and learning practices. High quality among kaupapa Māori providers will continue to be guided by the sector's understanding and knowledge of kaupapa Māori education at tertiary level.

Chapter six explores collaboration among tertiary providers and whānau, hapū, and iwi, and it looks at participation and achievement by Māori learners within this sector.

Download Appendices

Appendices File Type & Size


  1. Māori student Achievement in Mainstream Schools, June 2004. Education Review Office.
  2. Early childhood education services are defined as either teacher-led or parent-led services.
  3. New Zealand's Competent Children study. New Zealand Council for Educational Research, 1993.
  4. Includes licensed and licence-exempt services.
  5. Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis. Alton-Lee, A. Ministry of Education, 2003.

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