Tātaiako: Māori learners achieving educational success as Māori


“Kua piki te manu ki te rangi, heoi anō tā tātau, pēwhea tōna rere.”
The bird has taken flight; therefore we need to assess and support its pathway.


The Tātaiako professional learning and development (PLD) programme empowers kaiako to:

  • look inward;
  • critically reflect on where they are at in their culturally responsive teaching spaces;
  • critically consider their cultural positioning; and
  • intentionally make informed culturally responsive teaching choices to improve their teaching and learning practice.

Looking outward, kaiako are enabled and supported to engage with theories of effective practice, drawn from the Tātaiako Cultural Competencies Framework, underpinned by Te Whāriki and motivated by Ka Hikitia Managing Success – The Māori Education Strategy.

Kaiako have opportunities to build relationships across the motu with other services, reflect and share in their practical experiences.

In this PLD, kaiako focus on their culturally responsive pedagogy with Māori children, learning and wellbeing.

Approaches used respect the different philosophical underpinnings of individual services and kaiako are encouraged to embed the values and beliefs of the community into their local curriculum.

Case study – September 2021-June 2022

During the design of this Tātaiako programme, key strands in line with the Early Childhood Services Regulations 2008 and Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Services 2008 were identified and unpacked within the different phases. Scaffolding intentional content across the different delivery modes worked well to increase knowledge and understandings about each cultural competency, different associated concepts and how each of them are intertwined. Transformational thinking and practice that could be seen, heard and felt were captured and shared in an effort to make them sustainable beyond the PLD time frame.

In addition, to meet obligations and responsibilities we hold as kaiako, different communication experiences always promoted safe spaces which advocated for reasons to practice reo Māori and tikanga Māori. Whakawhanaungatanga combined with open and consistent communication invited opportunities to support kauapapa beyond the identified key strands and strengthened relationships with services and their communities.

Objectives and outcomes

  • Supporting kaiako to improve their teaching practices to increase confidence in the use of the competencies of Ako, Whanaungatanga, Wānanga, Tangata Whenuatanga, and Manaakitanga.
  • Supporting each service to improve kaiako teaching practice in relation to the licensing criteria, specifically:
    C5: The service curriculum acknowledges and reflects the unique place of Māori as tangata whenua. Children are given the opportunity to develop knowledge and an understanding of the cultural heritages of both parties to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
    C6: The service curriculum respects and supports the right of each child to be confident in their own culture and encourages children to understand and respect other cultures.
    C11: Positive steps are taken to respect and acknowledge the aspirations held by parents and whānau for their children.
    GMA6: An ongoing process of self-review helps the service maintain and improve the quality of its education and care.

Reflexive delivery methods – meeting the needs of early childhood services

Ideally, this programme is delivered through a blended model of delivery. However, current COVID-19 restrictions and limitations in the community and at individual service level shaped our programme in 2021-2022 to include online alternative workshop when in-service visits could not be completed. Webinars, cluster hui and individual service engagement were planned to scaffold and extend on prior and new learning.

Shifts in practice – expected outcomes from participation

  • Develop a shared vision of ākonga wellbeing between ECE across the cluster.
  • Increased awareness and implementation of practices that support language, identity and culture for tamariki. 
  • Strengthen the way kaiako embed the cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners into their daily teaching practices with consideration to other key documentation, while deepening understanding their tamariki as culturally situated learners.
  • Understand how to provide a context of learning where language, culture and identity of Māori learners and their whānau is affirmed.
  • Develop an understanding of the cultural competencies from a whānau, hapū and iwi perspective and education perspective.
  • Develop knowledge around how to effectively weave Tātaiako throughout curriculum, planning and assessment, appraisal, coaching, mentoring and inquiry.
  • Further engage with whānau, in order to strengthen supportive, culturally responsive learning relationships with the child while developing local curriculum.
  • Develop an understanding of weaving Tātaiako competencies into pedagogical leadership.
  • Effective pedagogical practice and learning to increase confidence and competence in enhancing children’s identity, language and culture.
  • Increased confidence in understanding and implementation of culturally responsive pedagogy.  
  • Strengthen the way kaiako embed the cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners into their daily teaching practices with consideration of other key documentation, while deepening understanding of their tamariki as culturally situated learners.

Teacher/kaiako voice

“I never thought to link the articles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi with Te Whāriki.”
“A very informative workshop Shelley and Ngawai, looking forward to linking it to practice.”

Video presentation by Lollipops, Browns Bay, Auckland
At the final full Tāmaki Makaurau Hui, where three clusters came together to celebrate and share in their learning journey with us, network together and solidify their next steps in navigating what a culturally responsive practice looks like, we were blessed with seeing how Lollipops, Browns Bay are aware of creating safe, culturally rich spaces to engage in new learning, hearing how they view mistakes as learning opportunities, and feeling the importance of dispositions like perseverance, patience and practice in their creative expression of rākau waiata – their presentation.
Ngā mihi tino nui Ajah and team at Lollipops, Browns Bay

‘Te Rākau’ – A visual tautoko created for Inspire Early Learning to support and provoke whakaaro within their self-review processes and critiquing robust pātai aligning with their culturally responsive journey.