Evaluation of the Retention Pilot Programmes for Māori Medium Beginning Teachers

Publication Details

The Retention pilot programme for Māori medium beginning teachers Initiative, was established under Budget 2013. Six providers were contracted to design and implement new induction and mentoring initiatives that support the retention of beginning teachers in Māori medium schools through the provision of quality teaching in a Māori cultural framework through te reo Māori.

Author(s): Prepared by Nan Wehipeihana, Kirimatao Paipa and Roxanne Smith for Research Evaluation Consultancy Limited - a member of the Kinnect Group

Date Published: July 2019

Executive Summary


Māori medium education is a unique and powerful contributor to New Zealand’s social, cultural and economic life. An effective Māori medium teaching workforce is critical for supporting the students of today and tomorrow to succeed in education and beyond, and to have the pride and commitment to uphold tribal identity and integrity[1]. The 2012 report of the Māori Medium Workforce Reference Group highlighted the need to address persistent workforce capacity and capability issues. The high turnover of beginning teachers during their first three years of teaching was identified as a priority.

The impetus for the Māori medium retention pilot programme (the programme)  for new and beginning teachers came from analysis of teacher workforce data commissioned by the Ministry of Education.[2] This research confirmed that retaining beginning teachers in Māori medium was a significant and pressing issue. Over the period 2000-2012, 70 percent of beginning teachers who started teaching in Māori Māori medium left the kura after three years or less[3] compared to around one third of beginning teachers in the English medium sector.[4]

The programme for Māori medium beginning teachers Initiative, was established under Budget 2013. The programme commenced in 2014 and concluded in 2016. Six providers, eight contracts (one provider having three contracts) designed and implemented new mentoring initiatives and professional learning pilot programmes to support the retention of pia (new or beginning teachers) in Māori medium kura and settings.[5] Presented in alphabetical order the following table provides an overview of each pilot programme (pilot).

Summary of the Retention Pilot Programmes for Māori medium Beginning Teachers

Cohort pilot: Massey University and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi

The aim of this pilot was to follow one cohort of graduating teachers from Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi to better understand the underlying issues and challenges new and beginning teachers face; and to refine and strengthen its ITE programme content and delivery to support successful transition of graduates into the teaching environment. This pilot was a partnership between Massey University and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.

Iwi pilot: Massey University

This pilot was premised on the belief that involving iwi and hapū in induction and mentoring for beginning teachers is valuable and works to support retention and quality teaching. One of the aims was the inclusion of kuia and kaumatua who would share local knowledge and provide support to pia. The pilot also focused on growing the capabilities within each Ngāti Pōrou kura by training all certified teachers as pou tautoko, and upskilling the expertise already present in the kura in educative mentoring.

Matapihi pilot: Te Kura o Matapihi

This pilot tested the assumption that contextualised PLD is an effective model that supports quality teaching and teacher retention. It responded to concerns that often PLD for pia is too general and not easily transferrable to practice; and did not provide the pia with what they need, when they need it, in order to support effective teaching and learning in a kura-a-iwi context. The PLD focus for each year was based on the needs identified by the pia and pou tautoko. This pilot was led by the  tūmuaki (principal) of Te Kura o Matapihi, a small kura-a-iwi based in the rural community of Matapihi, Tauranga and was largely wānanga based.

Ngā Kura-ā-Iwi pilot: Ngā Kura-ā-iwi

The pilot aimed to develop and test a mentoring model to support the progression of beginning teachers from provisional registration through to full registration, and complements existing  Ngā Kura-ā-iwi o Aotearoa PLD programmes (culture of inquiry informing PLD).The pilot design provided for a needs analysis with pia (years one and two), a review of the literature, and relevant research to inform the development of the model. The model was then tested and refined through iterative engagement with participating kura including, pia, pou tautoko, and tumuaki as part of national hui and kura-based PLD.

Te Pa Harakeke: Education Plus, University of Canterbury

This pilot was pia centred, focused on supporting pia to work towards, and meet the necessary criteria to become a fully certified teacher. The pilot provided a cohort of pia professional development focused on teaching as inquiry. The pilot design emphasised kanohi-ki-te-kanohi (face-to-face) personal engagement, as well as facilitating pia networking and learning opportunities through communities of practice, learning circles, access to online resources, and digital technology. Pou tautoko and tumuaki were also included to reinforce their role in providing a supportive culture and embedding a quality kura induction and mentoring system.

Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga

Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga is a kura-ā-iwi and aims to grow the ideal Tainui/Waikato graduate. The kura has a grow-your-own attitude approach  to ensure teaching staff who are local and have the skills and passion to nurture and grow the Tainui graduates. The kura has strong connection to iwi and community and the student population are made up of graduates from seven Tainui Kōhanga Reo. This pilot was a research project that focused on understanding how the values of the kura and the Kingitanga informs teaching practice and supports beginning teachers; and whether a more cultural, value-based environment, focused on nurturing all teachers including pia, supports retention. The research provides insight about the Rakaumangamanga approach towards retention and the lessons that can be transferred to other settings if appropriate.

Te Whatu Kura pilot: Te Puna Wānanga, Auckland University

This pilot had a focus on improving retention of pia through developing middle leadership capacity. It employed educative mentoring as a pathway for building mentoring capacity and capability in Māori medium settings (sustainability); developing school-wide systems that are sustainable beyond the intervention; the establishment of communities of practice; and a strong E-Learning platform. The pilot targeted three levels in the school system. Level 1 had a focus on building school leadership capacity (tumuaki) to ensure alignment of policies and systems to embed effective induction and mentoring practices. Level 2 had a focus on developing pou tautoko for sustainable in-school mentoring capacity. Level 3 focused on the induction of pia through leveraging other Māori medium PLD provision.

Wharekura pilot: Massey University

Wharekura settings are described as complex and challenging for pia, owing to the level of competence in te reo and specialist subject language required to teach effectively in these settings. This pilot aimed to work with pou tautoko to create strong induction and mentoring support systems in wharekura to better support pia. The pilot took a whole of community approach by engaging with community and inviting them to be partners with the kura.

Programme participants

A total of 217 pia, 167 pou tautoko and 80 kura/settings participated in the pilots over the duration of the programme. Table 2 provides a summary of the the number of pia, pou tautoko, kura, by pilot across the duration of the pilot; and some pilot data on certifications and retention.

Table 1: Numbers of pia, pou tautoko and kura by pilot who participated in the programme


Number of kura

Number of pou tautoko

Number of pia

Number of pia certified

Number of pia still in Māori medium (2016-2017

Source of figures reported:

  1. Massey Research Report for the Wharekura Pilot, the Iwi Pilot, and the Cohort Pilot and post pilot completion data provided by Massey.
  2. Massey Research Report for the Wharekura Pilot, the Iwi Pilot, and the Cohort Pilot and post pilot completion data provided by Massey.
  3. Derived from the Matapihi Milestone reports and evaluator data. It is not clear if there is double counting of pia and pou tautoko numbers across the 2014-2016 period of the pilot.
  4. NKAI Milestone Report 2, part 2.
  5. University of Canterburty: Final report
  6. Te Puna Wānanga Milestone Report 9: Final report. * This figure excludes 7 Puna Reo and 10 pia supported by Te Puna Wānanga.
  7. Massey Research Report for the Wharekura Pilot, the Iwi Pilot, and the Cohort Pilot and post pilot completion data provided by Massey.

















no data

no data

Ngā Kura-ā-iwi 4












Te Pā Harakeke5






Te Whatu Kura6


















Data limitations:
  • This table has been compiled using the figures reported in milestone reports of each pilot provider, except where noted. The way information was reported means there may be some double counting of participants.
  • There was also missing and incomplete data in some provider reports which means that some participants numbers may be under represented
  • Not all pilots provided data about the number of pia achieving certification and the number staying in the Māori medium sector.
  • Care should therefore be taken in interpreting this data.


The Ministry commissioned a learning-focused evaluation to look at what works to support retention of beginning teachers in Māori medium settings and why, and what constitutes best practice in the delivery of induction and mentoring in Māori medium settings.

The evaluation data was based on provider pilot milestone reports as well as evaluation interviews with provider staff; observations of pilot delivery and interviews withpia, pou tautoko and tumuaki.  The data and initial findings were analysed with the providers and the Ministry of Education and subsequently synthesised against the key evaluation questions by the evaluation team for the purposes of this report.

The evaluation limitations include: standard cross-pilot survey data was not able to be collected; the primarily qualitative data could not be aggregated across pilots; provider milestone reports were variable in quality; and the reporting of pilot participant numbers and outcomes was variable.

Key findings: cross pilot learnings

This report brings together the cross-pilot learnings from all eight pilot projects.

Factors that supported effective pilot implementation

Looking across all of the Māori medium pilots, the key factors that supported effective pilot implementation were:

  • Securing tumuaki engagement. As the professional leaders in kura, tumuaki have the responsibility to ensure pia are supported to full certification and have the authority to prioritise the allocation of time and resources to support pia and pou tautoko and induction and mentoring.
  • Flexible delivery, in particular providers using a range of delivery modes (one day hui, regional 2-day cluster hui, after school sessions, in-school visits, classroom relievers and the use of technology) to engage pia and pou tautoko in ways that best meet their needs.
  • Use of technology to support access including cloud-based platforms that pia and pou tautoko can engage with anytime, anyplace.
  • A robust theory of change and implementation plan to guide effective delivery.
  • Strong project management where the vision was clearly articulated, team autonomy and responsibility was encouraged and project oversight was maintained and issues and opportunities were proactively responded to as they emerged.
  • Proactive and responsive oversight of the pilots by the Ministry.

Pia needs and responses that meet their needs

Pia have both professional and personal needs. Through the pilots pia identified a range of needs they had as beginning teachers including support for teaching practice, support to teach in immersion settings, support to complete certification requirements, and effective support and engagement from their pou tautoko. Other factors impacting on their needs being met included the leadership of tumuaki and broader wellbeing factors.

The pilots were effective in understanding and going some way to meeting pia needs. Pilot facilitators took on tasks, over and above their specified PLD delivery, filling a perceived gap in kura capacity and capability. They brought their own relievers, provided access to pilot staff outside of in-school visits and school hours, and took on tumuaki and pou tautoko roles and responsibilities such as mentoring pia. These initiatives were effective in meeting the immediate needs of pia but also providing them with encouragement and a support system to retain them in the sector.

Pia personal and broader wellbeing needs included assistance with housing, healthcare, sport and cultural activities as well as meeting the education, social, spiritual and cultural needs of their children and whānau. When kura supported pia to settle into the community, pia were able to concentrate on teaching.

Although not fully tested with pilots, the Whare Manaaki conceptual model provides some practical guidance to consider the wellbeing needs of pia as part of induction and mentoring.

What have we learnt about effective induction and mentoring

The evaluation identified four models or approaches to induction and mentoring approaches that supported pia towards certification and ultimately their retention in the sector. These are:

  • Manaakitanga as an effective and authentic Māori approach to induct pia into the kura – and induction and mentoring is embraced within tikanga such as powhiri and the collective responsibility of whānau, hapū and iwi. Where manaakitanga is expressed  authentically and consistently by the kura then pia were more likely to stay teaching.
  • Educative mentoring PLD programmes that influence kura leadership, systems and policies and provide direct support to pia and pou tautoko on mentoring and certification requirements where needed. The model worked well and was implemented at scale.
  • Contextualised PLD that is determined and procured by the kura and is therefore responsive to pia and pou tautoko needs. This localised model worked well and was implemented by individual kura and/or clusters of kura that were geographically close.
  • Approaches to induction and mentoring that are founded on the philosophies, stories, histories of the kura.

In Māori medium settings and contexts, Māori philosophies, principles and values are the norm. What works for Māori – for pia, pou tautoko and kura - are Māori principles, Māori philosophies, Māori practices and Māori resources. Most pilots utilised Te Hāpai Ō as part of their delivery model or were developing an induction and mentoring model that affirmed Māori ways of being, seeing, knowing and doing. Underpinned by Māori cultural values and seven ahuatanga (interrelated elements) Te Hāpai Ō is a natural fit with the philosophical and cultural values of kura and enables culturally responsive contexts for learning.

What have we learnt about retention

The assumption implicit in the programme was that provision of high quality induction and mentoring would support teacher quality, certification and retention of pia in the sector. The focus was on understanding retention within the context of induction and mentoring.

Of the 217 pia who participated in the pilot 69 (32%) achieved certification and 174 (80%) were still teaching in the Māori medium sector at the end of the programme. Expressed as reduction in the Māori medium teaching workforce, the programme reported a 20% loss of beginning teachers compared to the ‘expected’ 70% loss, in their first three years of teaching, as identified by the Ogilvy research. Acknowledging the programme data limitations, the data does suggest an indicative link between high quality induction and mentoring and retention.

The evaluation also puts the spotlight on teaching vacancies and employment contracts as impacting on retention of pia. Teaching positions are often held by experienced teachers who have no desire to move; and in small rural communities they offer stable, well paid work, that can otherwise be difficult to find. Teachers therefore tend to stay in these positions. The evaluation findings are supported by the Ogilvy research which reported strong annual teacher retention in Māori medium, resulting in lower turnover and fewer opportunities for new teachers, making it harder for new and beginning teachers to get a start in Māori immersion teaching.

At the same time, the nature of employment contracts and how these are configured (permanent or temporary, part-time or fulltime) also appear to impact on teacher employment – and thus retention in the sector.

Implications for the Ministry

From a pilot implementation perspective

Piloting an idea or programme is part of a wider evidence and learning system. Pilots are core to innovation and creativity in public policy. They save time and money by identifying promising and effective programmes, as well as information supporting programme improvement and evidence for discontinuation. There are many lessons that can be learnt from an implementation perspective for the future. In particular we highlight two:

  • First, there are significant capacity and capability challenges in the Māori medium sector that impact on outcomes achieved by pilot programmes.
  • Second, the pilots were initiated to understand what strategies can be deployed to influence and address retention issues facing the sector. Inconsisent collation and reporting of data impedes the Ministry’s ability to make well informed judgements about ‘what works’.

The Ministry has a leadership role in supporting the sector to implement well designed, robust pilots - not only will this generate quality evidence, it also minimises the burden on an already stretched and stressed sector.

From a induction and mentoring perspective

The evaluation identifies three induction and mentoring models or approaches that could be rolled out almost immediately or phased in over the next three to six months.

Educative mentoring PLD programme

  • Te Whatu Kura, planning, personnel and infrastructure are well established and in place for this programme to be rolled out almost immediately (or some mutually agreed timeframe).

Contextualised PLD

  • Matapihi could be resourced to implement this intervention almost immediately (or within some mutually agreed timeframe).
  • There are potential benefits for other groups of kura (e.g. in the South Island) to pilot a contextualised PLD model of induction and mentoring. They would be directly funded to purchase their own PLD for pia and pou tautoko, when and where it is needed. Unique to Matapihi was having an RTM based at the kura, as well as close connections wth a local PLD provider and with Iwi. These conditions may be important to any new pilot’s success.

Culturacy: iwi identity, language and culture

  • Nga Kura-ā-iwi joined the programme approximately nine months after the other pilots. Despite the late start they made good progress in integrating induction and mentoring within unique iwi identifiers and kura contexts and were gaining momentum at the time that the evaluation concluded. Given the attendance levels of pia, pou tautoko and tumuaki, and the traction that NKAI enjoys with affiliated kura, it would be good to support NKAI to embed the purakau model across kura systems.

Two significant challenges remain.


  • First, the evaluation highlights manaakitanga as an effective and authentic Māori approach to welcoming and inducting pia into the kura. However there are significant challenges in determining how this approach can be integrated as part of a wider PLD response. Sharing the Rakaumangamanga research, and the Whare Manaaki (Massey University) and Uri (Ngā Kura-ā-iwi) frameworks might be the first step in a conversation with the sector to engage with holistic and tikanga based approaches to induction and mentoring.

Engagement of tumuaki

  • Second, the evaluation highlights engagement of tumuaki as critical. All of the pilots struggled to engage tumuaki, with NKAI being the exception. This is not just an issue for induction and mentoring but impacts on all aspects of kura functioning, as most tumuaki are described as time poor. As a starting point, research with tumuaki, including a systems level analysis, would provide a more in-depth understanding of the calls on tumuaki time; how they prioritise and allocate their time and the levers and incentives which work or are amenable to securing tumuaki engagement.

From a retention perspective

Induction and mentoring is only one of many aspects that influences and impacts on pia experience and ultimately their retention. The push-pull factors are many and varied, and retention cannot be viewed in isolation. These factors include for example, teacher vacancies, how employment is configured in the sector, initial teacher education,[6] teacher workload and responsibilities. the demand for Māori teachers and teachers of Māori languge in the English medium sector and employment opportunities outside of the teaching sector.

Philosophical differences and kura capacity are impacting on induction and mentoring capability. This evaluation suggests there is a need to look  beyond a general model of induction and mentoring and to consider the strategies employed by some kura to identify, nuture and retain pia. These models are based on tikanga, and draw on the expertise and aroha of the kura community i.e. whānau, hapū and iwi.

Our current understanding of retention has been focused on pia at a kura level and with a focus on induction and mentoring. This evaluation further suggests a systems perspective is needed to increase our understanding of retention in Māori medium, through a deeper understanding of the whole systems and its parts, and how they intereact and to give effect to a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional response.


  1. Māori Medium Workforce Reference Group, (2012). Report of the Māori Medium Workforce Reference Group into strengthening the Māori Medium Education Workforce. Wellington, Ministry of Education.
  2. Analysis conducted for the Ministry of Education by Ogilvy, (2012) based on payroll data 1999-2011.
  3. Data comprises teachers who received MITA at any time between 2000-2012. MITA is received by teachers in Māori immersion levels 1-3. Receipt of MITA is the only way that Māori medium teachers can be identified in payroll data.
  4. Analysis conducted for the Ministry of Education by Ogilvy,(2012) based on payroll data 1999-2011.
  5. One pilot was a research project which focused on understanding how the values of the kura and the Kingitanga informs teaching practice and supports beginning teachers.
  6. Education Review Office. (2017). Newly Graduated Teachers: Preparation and Confidence to Teach.

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