Kura Kaupapa Maori

  • Brian Donnelly
Associate Minister of Education (Early Childhood Education and Maori Education)

An assessment of the way the Ministry of Education establishes new kura kaupapa Maori is underway to ensure such schools are set up to succeed right from day one, the Associate Minister of Education Brian Donnelly said today.

Kura kaupapa Maori are state schools in which children are taught primarily in the Maori language, with a particular focus on traditional and contemporary Maori values.

Since they were included in the Education Act in 1990 as state schools, the Government has built 42 new kura and transferred 17 existing state schools into kura kaupapa Maori. About 4000 children are being taught in kura kaupapa Maori.

Mr Donnelly said the main difference between setting up a kura and a general school was that the demand for a new kura came from an application to the Minister of Education from a hapu, or group of whanau who wanted that option for the education of their children. There was usually a close link with kohanga reo whanau, who saw kura kaupapa Maori as a natural progression.

"However, we need to do more than just provide bricks and mortar," said Mr Donnelly. "Like all schools, kura kaupapa Maori need well-trained and well-qualified teachers. They need principals who are good managers of resources and who have a good understanding of curriculum, assessment and evaluation, and they need Maori language learning and teaching materials, lots of them.

"Unfortunately, we haven't planned this part of the exercise well in the past, and this has created a gap between getting sufficient resources to meet the demand for this kind of education.

"The Coalition Government is spending around $30 million a year to support those children being taught in Maori. The money provides classroom materials, trains teachers, helps with management and teacher development, kura transport, and provides additional operations funding. "Not all of this support goes to kura kaupapa Maori because a large part of the demand comes from Maori immersion programmes inside general schools. In fact, there are about 30,000 students being educated in Maori, in varying degrees of immersion in ordinary primary and secondary schools.

"We must make sure we have the expertise in place to make the best use of this money, so we provide a better quality of education that will achieve better results," said Donnelly. "We need to build up this expertise so we can produce quality resources and teachers. Failing this, there is the danger of trading off quality for quantity, and this means that a child's education can suffer.

"Reports from the Education Review Office have shown me we must make sure that every time we open a new kura kaupapa Maori, we will have a high level of assurance and confidence that the teachers, principals and trustees will not be struggling from day one," he said "As far as possible, we must cover all of the important bases which help make the education of the children successful.

"If we don't do this, we put the education of these children at risk and we frustrate the energy and commitment of parents and teachers."

Mr Donnelly said he was very optimistic that a more robust way could be found to set up kura kaupapa Maori to succeed.

"Today's announcement should be seen as a clear affirmation from the Coalition Government that more kura kaupapa Maori will be needed in the immediate future for the growing number of parents who want this type of education for their children," said Mr Donnelly.