Welcome to Building on Success.

How our knowledge grew


Our knowledge about what works for Māori learners, and why, has been shaped by many people who have shared their thinking and work over the years. Iwi, hapū, whānau, parents, school leaders, teachers, students, academics, policymakers … all these people and more have contributed to our growing body of knowledge.   

The whakapapa interactive below presents, as a timeline, the foundation documents, policies, and responses that have informed our thinking.

We honour and acknowledge the generosity of spirit in which these have been contributed for the benefit of all, and we recognise and celebrate the taonga they have helped to create for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Click on a milestone to learn about the initiatives that have contributed to our understanding of what works for Māori learners and why.

- Foundation document
- Policy
- Response

Milestone details


1840 : Treaty of Waitangi

Treaty of Waitangi

Te Tiriti, he taonga tuku iho … hei whakapai i ngā nawetanga.

The Treaty, a treasure handed down … to right the many wrongs.

The Treaty of Waitangi is our founding document, and acknowledged as such in New Zealand’s constitution.

The 1988 Royal Commission on Social Policy suggested three broad principles that together, convey the Treaty’s underlying intent and spirit. These principles are: partnership, protection, and participation.

We have matured as a bicultural nation, as illustrated in recent actions to honour the Treaty of Waitangi. In Aotearoa New Zealand today, diversity is respected and celebrated. We value the unique contribution of Māori to our nation’s identity and knowledge base. Together, we are forging a sense of national identity as Kiwis while retaining our respective cultural identities. 


1999 : First Māori Education Strategy

The first Māori education strategy acknowledged that Māori educational success was a Ministry-wide responsibility. It also recognised that iwi educational partnerships were central to supporting greater Māori involvement and authority in education.

That first strategy had three main goals:

  • to raise the quality of mainstream education for Māori
  • to support the growth of high-quality kaupapa Māori education
  • to support greater Māori involvement and authority in education.


The strategy resulted in a range of new initiatives, including:

  • iwi education partnerships
  • professional learning and development programmes (for example, Te Kotahitanga and Te Kauhua)
  • Te Mana communications campaign
  • the appointment of more than 20 pouwhakataki (Māori community liaison officers)
  • additional support for Māori-medium education (for example., resource teachers of Māori)
  • student engagement initiatives.


2001 : Te Kauhua

Te Kauhua was an exploratory, school-based, action research project that helped schools and whānau work in partnership to improve outcomes for Māori learners. The project’s premise was that Māori student outcomes would improve if Māori students saw themselves reflected in the curriculum. Its key aims were to:

  • build a professional learning community
  • raise teacher expectations
  • change teacher attitudes, skills, and professional practice.

Te Kauhua presented both primary and secondary school teachers with a safe process for critically reflecting on their own world, culture, and identity, while considering what was happening for their Māori students. Findings indicated that positive shifts resulted in attitude and teaching practice.



2001 : Te Kotahitanga

Te Kōtahitanga was an evidence-based professional learning programme that sought to improve the learning and achievement of Māori students at secondary school. It achieved this goal by working with teachers to improve their classroom practice. At the same time, Te Kōtahitanga’s facilitators worked with school leaders and the wider school community to make the structural changes necessary to provide more effective support to teachers.

Teachers in Te Kōtahitanga committed to adopting a practice model called the Effective Teaching Profile. The Effective Teaching Profile required teachers to develop and demonstrate the following behaviours:

  • manaakitanga (caring for students as culturally located beings)
  • mana motuhake (caring about their students’ achievement)
  • whakapiringatanga (creating a secure, well-managed learning environment)
  • wānanga (using te reo Māori to engage Māori learners)
  • ako (using strategies that promote reciprocal teaching and learning)
  • kotahitanga (reflecting on outcomes that impact positively on Māori achievement).

1. Bishop and Berryman (2006, p. 273)


2003 : Government’s Māori Language Strategy

The 25-year strategy for te reo Māori draws together the different language revitalisation efforts of whānau, hapū, iwi, Māori, and government to create an overarching framework. Its aim is to have te reo Māori spoken widely by Māori in whānau and communities by 2028. In addition, it intends that all New Zealanders will appreciate the value of the Māori language to our society because it is a taonga guaranteed to Māori by the Treaty of Waitangi. 

The Ministry of Education is one of the lead agencies in this strategy. The education sector has a role to play in the regeneration of Māori language; it is a main artery1 for contributing to the government's strategy. For this reason, te reo Māori is one of the major planks of Ka Hikitia.

1. Joshua Fishman


2003 : Secondary Literacy Project

The Secondary Literacy Project aimed to raise the achievement of underachieving students in years 9 and 10. It focused particularly on underachievement amongst Māori and Pasifika students. This project sought to achieve its aims by increasing the knowledge of leaders and teachers about effective practice in literacy.


2005 : Secondary Numeracy Project

This project provided professional development to mathematics teachers in secondary schools. Facilitators introduced and modelled a teaching approach for developing mathematical understanding that progressed through physical representations, imaging and on to abstract mathematical concepts. Through this process, the project aimed at raising achievement in mathematics for all students in years 9 and 10, and especially for Māori and Pasifika students.


2004 : Te Mana Kōrero

Te Mana Kōrero was a series of three professional development packages. The packages comprised print and video material and were supported by facilitated workshops.

Te Mana Kōrero drew on evidence about what works for Māori students from other projects, such as Te Kōtahitanga and Te Kauhua.

Māori concepts or principles were imbued in the programme, specifically:

  • ako (reciprocal teaching and learning relationships)
  • manaakitanga (teachers caring for students as culturally located people)
  • mana motuhake (teachers having regard for the success of their students)
  • whakawhanaungatanga (respectful and collaborative relationships).



2004 : Hui Taumata Mātauranga IV

The fourth national Māori education summit included intergenerational discussion about what “success in education” means and about the obstacles to “Māori success”. Participants across three generations considered how Māori and the Crown could together make a difference in the education of future generations. Five themes emerged from those discussions about success:

  • relationships for learning
  • enthusiasm for learning
  • balanced outcomes for learning
  • preparing for the future
  • being Māori. 


2005 : Starpath Project for Tertiary Participation and Success

Starpath is an evidence-based, school-wide intervention aimed at improving the educational outcomes of students who need support to meet the criteria required to progress into degree-level tertiary education. It has a special focus on Māori and Pasifika students and those from low socio-economic communities.

Starpath is funded by the Tertiary Education Commission, with the University of Auckland matching that with funding raised from the private sector.



2008 : Ka Hikitia – Managing For Success 2008–2012

Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success 2008–2012 was the first phase of Aotearoa New Zealand’s contemporary Māori education strategy. It was intended to change and transform the educational system so that “all students have the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge they need to realise their potential and succeed.”

When the first iteration of Ka Hikitia was published, the then Secretary of Education, Karen Sewell, underscored the importance of making Māori educational success the highest priority. She challenged all those involved in education, including the Ministry, to “step up”. Overall, however, implementation was slower than expected.

A number of Māori educational initiatives were established during this period and are included in this timeline.



2009 : Ako Panuku

The Ako Panuku programme supports and builds on the expertise and professionalism of Māori teachers, acknowledging and valuing their contribution to improving outcomes for students. Its goal is to support Māori teachers in ways that enhance their professionalism; and acknowledge the critical contribution they make to education and to the achievement of Māori students.

Ako Panuku has a kaupapa Māori ethos and provides Māori secondary/kura teachers with the opportunity to take part in a community of practice.



2010 : Tū Rangatira: Māori Medium Educational Leadership

Tū Rangatira: Māori Medium Educational Leadership presents a model of leadership that reflects some of the key leadership roles and practices that contribute to high-quality educational outcomes for Māori learners. It focuses on leadership practices, providing insights into how effective professional development programmes can help strengthen leaders’ capabilities, grow capacity, and sustain exemplary leadership in the Māori medium education sector.



2011 : He Kākano

He Kākano was a national, school-based professional learning and development programme for leaders (and teachers) in English-medium secondary and area schools. It focused on culturally responsive ways to improve practices to ensure that Māori learners enjoy educational success as Māori.



2011 : Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners

Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners is a print resource designed to help early childhood, primary, and secondary educators work more effectively with Māori learners and their whānau.

Tātaiako was developed by the Education Council. It is informed by Ka Hikitia and highlights the importance of teacher–learner relationships, whānau, identity, language, and culture. It sets out cultural competencies with associated behavioural indicators and contains examples of both student and whānau voice. Each of the competencies is linked to one (or more) of the Graduating Teacher Standards and to the Practising Teacher Criteria.



2011 : Ruia

Ruia presents two website tools designed to help principals and other school leaders better facilitate educational success for Māori students. The tools include comprehensive resources to support appraisal and the establishment of effective school–whānau partnerships.

Read more (appraisal tool)...

Read more (partnership tool)...


2011 : Whakapūmautia, Papakōwhaitia, Tau ana: Grasp, Embrace and Realise

This resource promotes quality education relationships with iwi, where the shared goal is “Māori achieving educational success as Māori”. Its model, which embraces iwi values and embodies the principles of the Treaty, guides Ministry thinking and practices in respect of iwi. It emphasises the power of collaboration and the need for the type of engagement that reflects the Treaty partnership principle.



2012 : Rangiātea case studies

This is a collection of five case studies that highlight the experiences of individual secondary schools as they work towards helping Māori students to realise their potential. Included in the case studies are the strategies used by school leaders – and the factors that contributed to the improved achievement of their Māori students. Also included are exemplars of how particular programmes have been used successfully in each school.



2012 : Measurable Gains Framework

The Measurable Gains Framework provides online tools to help to define what “Māori enjoying and achieving educational success as Māori” looks like in practice. The tools provide common definitions and measurements of “effectiveness” and “success” (or otherwise) in the context of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success. They allow the Ministry to evaluate the extent to which a range of activities are making a difference. The information gathered contributes to a better understanding of what works for, and with, Māori students – which is critical if there is to be ongoing improvement in the education sector.


2013 : Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success 2013–2017

The intention of the second iteration of Ka Hikitia is to build on the knowledge base developed over many years and to accelerate success. In this phase, the focus is on action – and particular mention is made of “local solutions for local change, by local communities”.

A number of initiatives were established during this period (view them in the timeline).



2014 : Building on Success – Kia Eke Panuku

This project capitalises on the successes and key findings from Te Kotahitanga, He Kākano, the Starpath Project for Tertiary Participation and Success, and the Secondary Literacy and Numeracy Projects. The result is the creation of a “whole-school” initiative that builds on what is known to work for Māori. It gives life to the principles of Ka Hikitia and enacts them by:

  • addressing the aspirations of Māori communities
  • ensuring Māori students maximise their potential
  • using data and evidence, within an inquiry approach, to effect positive change
  • challenging (and supporting) schools to develop school-wide and in-class practices, systems, and structures that will make a difference for Māori students
  • working towards long-term sustainable change. 



2014 : Building on Success – Te Kākahu

Te Kakahu is a locally based iwi education partnership that aims to shift pan-Māori perspectives towards a curriculum that acknowledges local tikanga. It focuses on professional learning and development in secondary schools and gives a voice to Māori students and their iwi, hapū, and whānau. 

This iwi- and student-centred focus allows the people who belong in that area to determine what “success” looks like for them – and to reaffirm their ways of knowing, doing, and being (mātauranga Māori). It also provides the opportunity for an authentic, place-based curriculum that is grounded in the lives, community, and tūrangawaewae of the students – thus satisfying their “sense of place” as part of their cultural identity.

 This model strengthens the dual roles and shared responsibilities of schools and whānau, hapū, and iwi to support their young people to achieve educational success as Ngā Iwi Māori.



2014 : Ka Hikitia in Action

This series is compilation of success stories exemplifying Māori who are enjoying and achieving educational success as Māori. 

Ka Hikitia in Action showcases the critical role that parents, whānau, and communities play in helping their children to learn. It illustrates that Māori educational success can be achieved when communities, iwi, schools, early learning centres, and the Ministry work in collaboration – mahi tahi.



2015 : Hautu: Māori Cultural Responsiveness Self Review Tool for boards

This tool was developed jointly by the New Zealand School Trustees Association and the Ministry of Education.

Hautū supports boards of trustees to use Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success 2013–2017 and set goals for: Māori student achievement, supporting school staff to teach and support Māori students effectively, and ensuring that Māori in their community are part of governance and decision making. In this way, it aims to encourage boards to set an accelerated pace for their school towards achieving the vision of Ka Hikitia. 




2018 : Ka Hikitia- Phase3

The aim of the third phase of the Ka Hikitia strategy is to realise Māori potential through:

  • sustained system wide change
  • innovative community, iwi, and Māori led models of education provision
  • Māori students achieving at least on a par with the total population


2014 : Government’s Māori Language Strategy

The Government revised its Māori Language Strategy in 2013–14, following consultation with a range of stakeholders.  The revised Strategy includes new result areas, indicators and targets, principles, and confirms the roles of government. It also proposes legislation for improving the status of the Māori language and revised arrangements for the Māori language entities currently in Vote: Māori Affairs, as well as the establishment of a new independent, statutory Māori language entity, Te Mātāwai.

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