Rongohia te Hau: Effective support for culturally responsive teaching
This best evidence feature is about demonstrated Māori expertise in the ‘how’ of scaling improvement for Māori enjoying and achieving education success as Māori in English-medium education.
In the ‘Our Choice’ video presentation, Professor Mere Berryman explains the need and the opportunity to use evidence to make a difference in education in Aotearoa New Zealand, and why a Tiriti o Waitangi partnership approach – Mana Ōrite – is foundational to success for diverse Māori learners and for all learners in English-medium education.
A collection of videos that focus on Rongohia te Hau, then bring to life the early learning journey of Te Kāhui Ako o Te Puke and Bethlehem College Chapman.
Rongohia te Hau, ‘Listening to the winds of change’, is a way of using evidence including survey responses from learners, whānau and teachers, and observations of teaching, to inform and develop culturally responsive teaching and leadership across the curriculum. The process builds on relationships with mana whenua, iwi, hapū, whānau, and Māori communities and is an enabling approach to responsive consultation for transformative and ongoing educational improvement.
Developed by Poutama Pounamu, a research and development centre led by Professor Berryman at the Te Wānanga Toi Tangata Division of Education, University of Waikato, Rongohia te Hau was one of the strategies developed in the final stage of the high-impact intervention, Te Kotahitanga Phase 5. Professor Berryman’s change leadership featured in six best evidence syntheses because of its exceptional impact on Māori enjoying success as Māori.
Our choice: ‘forced fit’ or ‘belonging’ as Māori
Professor Mere Berryman (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Whare) Director of Poutama Pounamu at the Te Wānanga Toi Tangata Division of Education, Waikato University. Video used with permission
The Research and Development (R & D) model of reform
Rongohia te Hau was refined through a research and development model of collaborative, iterative and transformative change. In 2003, an OECD report raised concerns about the relatively low investment in educational R & D, particularly in New Zealand, warning that such low investment put New Zealand at risk of educational and economic decline.
Professor Berryman explains the R & D model for continuous improvement:
“The Research and Development (R & D) model of reform begins by feeding-forward the kaupapa and institutions that we know from research can work most effectively across the model of reform, gathering evidence on the robustness (spread and coherency) of our combined implementation.
The evidence from the community is then fed back to triangulate and understand our combined effect.
This information in turn determines what and how we need to undertake the next round of work.
It becomes the ongoing spiral of learning that short-term interventions, aimed at system level reform require if we are to disrupt, unlearn, learn to implement, accelerate and sustain the reform processes.”
Indigenous expertise in the ‘how’ of scaling improvement
The transformative change work led by Professor Berryman has been developed through cycles of collaborative research and development with iwi, whānau, teachers, leaders, experts and communities.
Professor Berryman established the originally named Poutama Pounamu Research and Development Centre, working on high impact school-whānau partnerships and inclusion, initially in Kaupapa Māori education. This was followed by partnership work with Professor Russell Bishop for intervention to scale in English-medium secondary schooling through Te Kotahitanga.
From 2001 to 2013, Te Kotahitanga was a comprehensive intervention to support Māori achieving success as Māori, with successive improvements through five phases of research and development. An independent analysis (pdf 356kB) comparing Te Kotahitanga schools and non-Te Kotahitanga schools by Dr Michael Johnston revealed that by Phase 3 of this intervention, Te Kotahitanga demonstrated significant major shifts in educational outcomes for both Māori and Pacific learners.
Figure 1 - Te Kotahitanga Phase 3 significantly increased the proportion of all learners achieving NCEA level 1 with very high gains for Māori and Pacific learners.
A 2012 New Zealand Institute for Economic Research Report found high cost benefit returns of Te Kotahitanga from Phase 3. NZIER advised that the intervention would need to bring about a change in NCEA Level 2 attainment for 1 in 30 or fewer Māori students in order to break even. Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 made a difference for around 1 in 8 Māori students who were previously not attaining NCEA Level 2 in year 12, with attainment benefits also for other students.
High impact of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5
Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 brought the evolving change process to the students, teachers, whānau and communities of 16 secondary schools serving 9.4% of Māori enrolments nationally. The change model for Phase 5 built on the lessons previously learned using new developments that increased the degree of reach, impact, sustainability and ongoing improvement that followed.
Te Kotahitanga Phase 5: Early shift in belonging as Māori
By the second year of intervention, a high proportion of Year 9 and 10 Māori students in Phase 5 schools (87%), reported that it felt good to be Māori in their schools (“always” or “mostly”).
Te Kotahitanga Phase 5: Senior secondary attainment
Figure 2: Te Kotahitanga significantly increased the proportion of students achieving NCEA Level 2
Attendance lifted and the proportion of Māori students enrolling in Year 13 increased markedly.
By 2012, the number of year 13 Māori students achieving NCEA Level 3 was nearly three times what it had been four years earlier.
These analyses of independent Ministry of Education data were quality assured, including by Professors John Hattie and Christine Sleeter, and checked back with participants. The evidence is reported in detail in Ka Hikitia – A demonstration report: Effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga phase 5 2010 – 2012 (pdf 4.8mB).
Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Multi-Award Winner
After participating in Te Kotahitanga Phase 5, Rotorua Boys’ High School won three Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards including the Supreme Award in 2019. Principal, Chris Grinter explains:
“It was not that we had suddenly discovered a gap in learning outcomes between Māori and non-Māori achievers, we already knew that was the case and we were working on it. It was not that we as a school had not given considerable thought to what was culturally appropriate for the students of our school. It was more a case that we had explored and implemented a range of interventions and strategies that had made good impact, but in themselves were not enough to generate the equity in outcomes or the ‘shift’ that we were seeking as a school ... we needed something that dug deeper at the cause of this disparity and we knew the solution to a large extent rested with our teachers and our need to work with them and all our non-teaching staff to make them better able to successfully teach our Māori learners. We needed to align pedagogy with those changes detailed above. We needed, quite simply, to bring about pedagogical change ... Te Kotahitanga has allowed us to undertake the best school-wide professional development programme that I have seen in my career.”
Grinter, A.C. (2013). Unpublished address to Te Kotahitanga Hui Whakanukunuku. Waikato-Tainui Research and Development Centre, Ngaruawahia. pp. 3 and 5.
Ko tātou ngā rangatira o āpōpō
In the video that follows, Rawiri Manley, Rotorua Boys’ High School’s Head Boy in 2015, explains his educational journey and thanks Professor Berryman.
Māori students’ experiences: Racism or belonging?
In 2013, the judges for the World Innovation Summit in Education Award reviewed the evidence in the Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 schools they visited, then asked the William Colenso College staff to leave while they interviewed Māori students from across the year groups. See the contrast in Māori students’ experiences of racism or belonging at William Colenso College.
Students interviewed in 2001 as part of Te Kotahitanga Phase 1
Students from William Colenso College (Phase 5 school) in conjunction with WISE awards 2013
Source: Alton-Lee, A. (2015). Ka Hikitia – A demonstration report: Effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga phase 5 2010 – 2012 (pdf 4.8mB). Wellington: Ministry of Education.
When I started at this school, I had a Māori name [Hinemaia] but none of the teachers could say it so now I am Tania.
She makes me feel like I’ve got a dumb name and I’m dumb.
It happens to most of us, they [the teacher] can’t pronounce it properly.
I used to be asked like this: “You are not a Māori are you?” [Said in a derogatory way]
We are nothing Māori if we are good in class, but we are Māori if we smoke pot or whatever.
The teacher I liked best wasn’t Māori, but he could have been. He knew how to say my name.
[In this school]:
It’s a real good feeling being Māori.
Being Māori is like being a leader and a real good role model.
Being Māori – it’s pretty solid at the moment.
I got the big waka – it’s for being, like, a Māori role model. It makes you feel self-worth knowing that you got that for being who you are.
We are relaxed. We can be ourselves.
He (the teacher) is racist. Well some people don’t like Māori much. It’s pretty good here. There are only two teachers that make racist comments.
Some teachers pick on us Māori. Some teachers and kids are racist.
They don’t know you as a person, but they just think you probably steal and you probably get abused at home, and all your family is the same … I think it is stereotyping … I don’t like being put in that category.
It’s like the opposite of racism in this school.
We are not scared of our teachers at this school.
[What has changed since Te Kotahitanga came to your school?]
You can be more open to everyone.
You feel way more comfortable around the teachers to learn.
Being Māori means you get hunted more. If you are on the field, and there’s a bunch of Māori and a bunch of Pākehā, they [teachers on duty issuing reprimands] will usually go to the Māori.
I hate school. We’re just going to get kicked out anyway.
Something that helps students … is having a good teacher, like a teacher that you respect and get along well with.
The teachers are caring … they hunt me down … save you.
When I started here I threw a firework through a window … Now I am head boy.
They give us something to strive for. They give you confidence.
I was a lot more … shy. School has changed a lot … you know more teachers – getting to know them is the change.
I think the teachers are pleased when I’m away.
They don’t like me and I don’t like them.
The maths teacher, he goes, “I don’t want to invest my time on you.”
They care about us and it’s the same after school if we need help. Teachers care for me … we try harder. [Many students agree: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!]
They treat us like we are their kids.
They shame us in class.
They don’t help you to understand ... Even if you ask them they tell you that you should have been listening.
Most of the teachers don’t like teaching the dumb streams.
They don’t [just] point out that you got it wrong.
It’s not like they blame you. They blame themselves. They take it personally that it is their fault. They think they are teaching you badly.
It’s best just to shut up if you don’t want to get into trouble.
They don’t try to understand where we are coming from.
They [deans] are meant to help you. Last year you only went to them if you were bad … if you did well, you never saw them.
They try to get to know you. My old teachers didn’t notice you.
In other schools they don’t really connect with you.
The teachers come to me.
They communicate with you.
They notice you. They notice if you have a problem.
They’ll sort things until it’s actually sorted.
Like when you copy off the board, that’s all you do. You don’t really learn anything
They help you, teach you.
I think teachers have to be willing to learn as well …There is this way of thinking. I am the teacher; you are the student. I am right and you are wrong.
I can correct the teacher so that I can learn.
Their marking should tell us what we did wrong and how we could do better. They are all smart and I don’t even know what they are talking about.
They give us more independence.
We get mid-year reports so everyone can track how their progress is going.
Good teachers … make us feel OK and that we can do things.
[What does Te Kotahitanga mean to you? What is the difference between your good and bad teachers?]
[Several students] We can only tell you about good teachers here … if you need us to talk about bad teachers we would need to talk about other schools or how it was before Te Kotahitanga.
It’s different, different, different, here – absolutely
The Ministry of Education discontinued Te Kotahitanga in 2013.
To date, four Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 schools have won Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards for ongoing improvement.
The best evidence feature Using evidence for a step up - Learning from Te Kotahitanga: impact, sustainability and ongoing improvement explains critical success factors.
Ka Hikitia: Ka Hāpaitia
In 2020 there has been a renewed policy commitment (pdf 792kB) to a system step up for Māori learners.
“Māori are enjoying and achieving educational success as Māori as they develop the skills to participate in te ao Māori, Aotearoa and the wider world.”
“We will support Māori learners and their whānau to achieve excellent education outcomes.”
Ka Hikitia – Ka Hāpaitia The Māori Education Strategy 2020
‘Māori are free from racism, discrimination and stigma in education’
The Te Tangata policy objective in the Ka Hikitia – Ka Hāpaitia Māori Education Strategy (pdf 792kB) is zero tolerance for racism, discrimination and stigma in education. Effective action is needed.
‘People at school are racist towards me’
In 2018, the School Trustees’ Association and the Commissioner for Children published Education matters to me: Key insights (pdf 1.6mB). This report raised concerns about endemic racism persisting in Aotearoa New Zealand education:
Many children and young people told us they experience racism at school and are treated unequally because of their culture.
The Ka Hikitia Te Tangata (pdf 792kB) policy commitment is to eliminate racism from the education system. Evidence over many years, however, shows that best intentions are insufficient and may cause unintended harm.
Ngā Haeata o Aotearoa: Ka Hikitia 2019 Report
The harsh reality of system underperformance for Māori is explained in the Ka Hikitia Ka Hāpaitia Māori Education Strategy:
“The education system has underperformed for Māori learners and their whānau. This has significant social, cultural, health and economic impacts for whānau, hapū, iwi, Māori and New Zealand as a whole.”
System data, even pre-COVID-19, make clear the need for more effective action to combat racism and advance progress on policy intentions.
- In 2018, only 63% of Māori 15-year-olds reported feeling like they belong at school.
- In 2018, approximately one-quarter of Māori 15-year-olds did not agree with feeling emotionally supported by their teacher or feeling safe at school.
- In 2018, Māori students felt lonelier, less able to make friends, more out of place and more like an outsider than in previous data.
- In 2018,15-year-old Māori students were more likely to report experiencing bullying behaviours from other students than the national average.
- Since 2015 the stand down rates for Māori learners have been increasing.
- In 2019 only 44% of Māori learners attended school regularly. Between 2011 and 2019, the proportion of Māori learners attending school regularly (more than 90% of the time) dropped from 56% to 44%.
- In 2019, the proportion of Māori school leavers in Māori-medium education that attained NCEA Level 3 or above was 59% compared to 34% for Māori school leavers in English-medium education and 54% for school leavers of all ethnicities across all school mediums.
- From 2017 to 2019, Māori leavers attaining NCEA Level 2 or better declined by 4.2 percentage points.
- In 2019 Māori students had the highest rates of early leaving exemptions with 27.5 per 1,000 15-year-old students.
- In 2018, 330 (51.8%) of the 637 students granted ‘Early Leaving Exemptions’ were Māori, while in 2018 Māori students represented only 24.1% of the total student population.
Ministry of Education sources:
- Ngā Haeata o Aotearoa: Ka Hikitia 2019 Report
- School leavers with NCEA Level 2 or above
- Early Leaving Exemptions
A way forward
Policy funding of Te Kotahitanga research and development focussed on secondary schools. Teachers in early learning and primary education have also sought access to such transformative change expertise. See an excerpt from Professor Berryman explaining the way forward in an invited presentation to NZEI Te Riu Roa.
Find out more
Alton-Lee, A. (2015). Ka Hikitia – A demonstration report: Effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga phase 5 2010 – 2012 (pdf 4.8mB). Wellington: Ministry of Education.
Barrett, T. (2018). School leadership for Māori succeeding as Māori: A Mataatua perspective. (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Hamilton: The University of Waikato.
Berryman, M. (2008). Repositioning within indigenous discourses of transformation and self-determination. (Doctoral dissertation). Hamilton: The University of Waikato.
Berryman, M., Egan, M., & Ford, T. (2016). Examining the potential of critical and Kaupapa Māori approaches to leading education reform in New Zealand’s English-medium secondary schools. International Journal of Leadership Education, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603124.2016.1206973
Ngaamo, R. (2019). Through the eyes of whānau: Destruction of cultural identity through education. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Hamilton: The University of Waikato.
Bishop, R., and Berryman, M. (2006). Culture speaks: Cultural relationships and classroom learning. Wellington: Huia.
Education Gazette. (2021, March 17). Rongohia te Hau: Driving transformative change. Education Gazette, 100(3).
Education Review Office. (2016). School Evaluation Indicators: Effective practice for improvement and learner success. Wellington: Education Review Office.
See links to School Evaluation Indicators: Enabling equity and excellence, Culturally responsive schooling, Manaakitanga, Whanaungatanga, Ako, Mahi Tahi pp. 12-15.
M. Durie, personal communication, 17 October 2011.
A letter from Professor Sir Mason Durie to BES about the importance of the Poutama Pounamu development of Ripene Āwhina ki te Pānui Pukapuka (RĀPP) – an early audio-assisted reading intervention to support students’ literacy in te reo Māori – as a vehicle for the revitalisation of te reo Māori, and as a catalyst for engagement in education and for building whānau cultural security.
Martin, S. (2015). Technical report. Ka Hikitia - A demonstration report: Effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga phase 5 2010–12. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
Ministry of Education. (2020). Ngā Haeata o Aotearoa: Ka Hikitia 2019 Report. How is the education system performing for Māori learners? Wellington: Ministry of Education.
OECD (2003). Knowledge management: New challenges for educational research. Paris: OECD.
Robinson, V., Hohepa, M., & Lloyd, C. (2009). School leadership and student outcomes: Identifying what works and why: Best evidence synthesis iteration [BES]. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
Rongohia te Hau – A Platform for Change. Poutama Pounamu.
School leavers with NCEA Level 2 or above. (2020). Ministry of Education.
School Rolls. (2020). Ministry of Education.
Siope, A. (2013). ‘A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations’: Coming to understand. Waikato Journal of Education, 18(2). 37–49.
Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H., & Fung. I. (2007). BES Case 7: Establish culturally responsive relationships with students to reduce educational disparities and raise achievement In Teacher professional learning and development: Best evidence synthesis iteration (pp. 259-264). Wellington: Ministry of Education.
Zuccolo, J. & Yeabsley, J. (2012). Outline of business case Cost Benefit Analysis: Contribution to the expansion of Te Kotahitanga. (Unpublished report). Wellington: New Zealand Institute for Economic Research.