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Kaupapa Māori: Continuing traditions, acknowledging success

Te Kura has launched an exciting new learning area, Kaupapa Māori, which focuses on continuing traditions and acknowledging success in matauranga Māori.

Te Kura successfully trialled Kaupapa Māori towards the end of 2018, with over 50 ākonga (students) enrolling in a range of standards. The kaimahi (staff) and ākonga involved thoroughly enjoyed their experiences and showed high levels of engagement and achievement.

Te Kura teacher Whaimutu Marino believes that Kaupapa Māori was good for the students as it is Māori based and most enrolled have a connection to being Māori or are searching for this. “Kaupapa Māori allowed us to connect students to one another as well as to their hapu or iwi. That really matters.”

The standards on offer are derived from Field Māori, which explores Māori knowledge, pedagogy and skills. Te Kura design and delivery focuses on building deep connections and exploring interdisciplinary aspects of te ao Māori.

Te Kura is delighted to offer this new learning area, particularly as it has just celebrated Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, and at a time when there is a growing awareness of the importance of Māori language and culture.


Kaupapa Māori offers vast range and depth of learning experiences, as well as highlighting personal experiences of those who participate in the course.

Manu Tukutuku
In 2018, 45 students from our Central North region enrolled in Kaupapa Māori, working with Whaimutu Marino and Christine Te Kiri. The range of learning experiences these students participated in varied from applying and understanding whakapapa, to preparing and serving kai at marae. The students were also involved in creating manu taratahi (Māori kites) and learning traditional pakiwaitara from their local areas. This rich contextual experience ensured that student engagement was high and resulted in meaningful relationships being established between students, staff, whānau and hāpori (community). In total, more than 60 standards were awarded to this group of students.

Christine attributes the success to offering subjects that are relevant to Māori culture. The learning experiences were based on familiarity and deeply resonating cultural tunes, to which the students responded positively. Whaimutu says, “I truly believe when you can act as yourself in a space where you are accepted as yourself, brilliance is unfurled and released exponentially. I believe this is what happened with the Manu Tukutuku students”.

Northern Haerenga
Te Kura staff member Sharlene Rogers, based in our office in Whangarei, was able to create a haerenga (hands on experience) that saw 13 students and staff go out and explore their local areas and tourist attractions, making connections to sites of significance and importance to Māori. Students learnt about historic leaders such as Te Ruki Kawiti from the far North and the important role he played in the narratives of his iwi. They identified how innovative he was and how his mana contributed to that role. The students’ work resulted in several students being awarded multiple standards.

The work shared by these students showed how important it is to understand our local area and the need to know what the local hapu or iwi experienced, as these views are not often captured in traditional media. These students were predominantly non-Māori, learning about the traditions of the local areas in which they live and have grown up in. This connection creates a deeper sense of self and an awareness of the historic implications between Māori and non-Māori.

What’s on offer in 2019
This year we look to scale up enrolments in Kaupapa Māori. We have extended the offerings within four learning areas (Tikanga, Manaaki Marae, Environment Māori and Tourism Māori) and will be looking to develop more in the future, based on student needs and staff capability and capacity. To find out more, please email or visit our website:

Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi.
With your basket and my basket, the people will thrive.

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