New resource will lift Māori student success through more effective teaching - Sharples

  • Pita Sharples

A new resource launched today will help improve Māori student achievement by strengthening the cultural awareness and skills of teachers in schools and early childhood education services, says Associate Education Minister Dr Pita Sharples.

‘Tātaiako’ recognises the relationship between teachers and students as the all-important foundation for learning, and it provides a cultural competence framework for teachers engaging with Māori students, their whānau and communities,” said Dr Sharples.

“’Tātaiako’ challenges and encourages teachers to see how their own culture has shaped them, and to recognise the importance of understanding the identity, language and culture of Māori students. That way teachers can engage better with Māori students, their whānau and iwi, and build a better basis for more effective teaching.

“Tātaiako is not so much a set of standards for teachers, as guidance for professional development in an area of teaching critical to the success of New Zealand’s education system.  It encourages teachers to continue to develop their understanding, knowledge and skills in relation to Māori students.”

Tātaiako was developed by the Ministry of Education, with the assistance of the New Zealand Teachers Council and an invited group of academics and iwi representatives involved in education.

The Ministry and Teachers Council will work with principals, teachers, school trustees, unions and professional development providers to ensure Tātaiako is well understood and widely used.

The resource is available at



What is Tātaiako?

Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners is a document that sets out the progression of competencies that teachers need to develop so that they can help Māori learners achieve educationally as Māori.

What does Tātaiako consist of?

Tātaiako  sets out five key cultural competencies.  It then provides indicators for those competencies throughout a teacher’s career, including at entry to initial teacher education and in positions of leadership. It tells you the positive things that Māori learners and their whānau and iwi would be saying about teachers and schools or ECE services when teachers are displaying cultural competence.

Is Tātaiako easy to understand?

We think it is a really simple and clear picture of what makes up cultural competence. It’s an easy read.

What are the key competencies?

The key competencies are:

  • Wānanga: participates with learners and communities in robust dialogue for the benefit of Māori learners’ achievement
  • Whanaungatanga: actively engages in respectful working relationships with Māori learners, parents and whanāu, hapū, iwi and the Māori community
  • Manaakitanga: demonstrates integrity, sincerity and respect towards Māori beliefs, language and culture
  • Tangata Whenuatanga: affirms Māori learners as Māori - provides contexts for learning where the identity, language and culture of Māori learners and their whānau is affirmed
  • Ako: takes responsibility for their own learning and that of Māori learners.

Why has Tātaiako been developed?

It has been developed to help all educators in the education system think about what it takes to successfully teach Māori learners. It will provide a guide to the development of cultural competence for teachers themselves, and for their employers and those that prepare and support them to be teaching professionals.

Currently, Māori learners are less likely to do well educationally than the group of learners as a whole. The relationship between teachers, Māori learners and whānau and iwi is a very critical key to turning this situation round.

How was Tātaiako developed?

It was developed by the Ministry assisted by the New Zealand Teachers Council and a Reference Group of academics, teacher education practitioners, and iwi representatives involved in iwi educational initiatives. It drew on research, existing frameworks, discussions with some iwi, and the experience of the Reference Group.

Does Tātaiako make learning te reo Māori or tikanga compulsory for teachers? Is using Tātaiako compulsory?

Tātaiako does not make learning te reo or tikanga compulsory for teachers. And the use of Tātaiako itself is not compulsory.  On the other hand, every school and early childhood centre should be doing everything they can to meet the learning needs of Māori students. Tātaiako is a tool that everyone can use to guide the development of key competencies that will support that goal.

Why focus on cultural competence with Māori only?

Tātaiako does focus specifically on competence with Māori learners, as part of meeting the goals of Ka Hikitia. To be culturally competent with Māori, teachers need specific knowledge and understanding of Māori identity, language and culture and the ability to form relationships with the Māori community.
Nevertheless, teachers who understand and develop cultural competence with Māori will have fundamental understandings about relationships with learners that will benefit all learners.