Demonstrate commitment to bicultural partnership in Aotearoa New Zealand. · Mindlab reflections · Respond effectively to the diverse language and cultural experiences, and the varied strengths, interests and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga. · Work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness


“…the most common positions taken by Maori students, their families and their school principals were those which identified classroom caring and learning relationships…” (Savage et al., 2011.)

The relationships we develop with learners and their families is important. On this foundation, we can have high expectations of our learners. They are more likely to listen to and act upon feedback if a positive relationship has been formed.

Showing interest in a learner is a great way of establishing a relationship. Greeting them each lesson and interacting with them demonstrates that you care. Once a relationship is built, we know more about their learning preferences and can develop appropriate activities.

A settled and well-managed learning environment, activities that encourage learner-led activities and social learning are also important so that learners can share and learn from each other. (Savage et al. 2011, p. 186)


Some of the strategic goals for Whangaparaoa College for 2014-16 are:

  1. To ensure learners achieve their potential
  2. Further  improve positive relationships with whanau/community

The specific objectives addressing these include:

Objective 1: challenge and support all learners to give of their best and achieve their best (tutuki) in their learning and the other areas that they pursue.

In the classroom, this is reflected by expecting our learners to aim for excellence. We support this by encouraging and giving feedback/feedforward. Scaffolding is provided for less able learners. In Academic Counselling time, goals are set and learning is reflected on to plan next steps.

Objective 7: Work with Maori, Pasifika, Special Needs and GATE learners and their whanau to help them achieve their potential

We regularly keep in contact with the whanau. At the beginning of the year whanau are contacted by the Academic Cousellor in an introduction capacity. During the year whanau are invited in for a meeting if there are issues. Learner led conferences are conducted throughout the year.

“Maori whanau, leaders and teachers meet regularly to strengthen bi-cultural partner ships.” (ERO report, Ministry of Education, 2013)

Objective 9: create a welcoming and inclusive environment; evidenced by cultural harmony, respect, and a positive two-way relationship with whanau/community

“The school ethos of learning together in a supportive, respectful environment is helping students to engage in learning and to achieve. Maori students express very positive attitudes to school and learning. They are well represented in school leadership roles.” (ERO report, Ministry of Education, 2013)

Even though our learners are supported and valued, there is room for improvement. ERO (2013) suggested that we, “strengthen and improve the planning and evaluation of initiatives.” We also need to develop a school wide plan for Maori success so that our efforts are coordinated. They have suggested that we use The Measurable Gains Framework,  Ka Hikitia: Managing for Success and Tataiako to further promote teachers’ cultural responsiveness.

Learning Activities

In the English Language department, year 11 learners research Matariki to identify similarities and differences with their own cultures. In English we study some texts that are written/directed by Kiwis. Our juniors research Matariki and create presentations to demonstrate understanding.

We need to teach more Maori and Pasifika texts in our department as none are taught at senior level and the junior texts we teach are short stories or poetry. This is something that will be addressed for next year. It was awesome to see Taika Waititi’s film, The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, it is a film that I know my year 9 classes will love.


1.Savage, C., Hindle, R., Meyer, L., Hynds, A., Penetito, W., Sleeter, C. (2011) Culturally responsive pedagogies in the classroom: indigenous student experiences across the curriculum. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), p.183 – 198

2. Ministry of Education. (2013). Whanagaparaoa College Education Review Report. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.


8 thoughts on “Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness

    1. Thanks Mel! I taught Wall E this year to year 9 and I wouldn’t do it again, it just wasn’t that engaging for my kids. Hunt for the Wilderpeople would have been though…bring on next year!


  1. Great post. You are so right when you talk about how important the relationships we develop with learners and their families are. As a school, we have been part of the TeKotahitanga program for about 6 years now and it has made a huge difference to staff and students. As teachers, we have been focused on developing a learning community that is responsive to the interests and aspirations of our students. Through this change, we have made positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress, and achievement.


  2. We are all talking about the importance of relationships and the efforts we are making to engage Maori students. After reading Milne’s quote at the bottom of Week 28’s email, I wonder if we have got it right. Milne suggests that the page we use is that of the dominant culture i.e. the model of education. Should we not look at how we change this model and create a new page?

    I’m enjoying this opportunity to reflect on really important issues like these. Thanks for sharing your reflections! Tumeke!


  3. I have really enjoyed reading your blogs during your Mind Lab journey. I really love all the cool pictures you use to support your reflections. Some have really made me smile. Thank you.


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