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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Supporting Māori learners

Questions | Examples | Literacy resources | General resources

Successful literacy learning is the backbone of success at school. All learners in New Zealand classrooms need to have strong literacy teaching. Teaching in a way that is responsive to the diversity in our classrooms has the most profound effect on our literacy learners. Strong school–whānau relationships, culturally responsive classrooms, and the deliberate use of effective teaching strategies can help Māori learners succeed as Māori. 

Supporting Māori learners with literacy across the curriculum

There is a high proportion of Māori students, Pasifika students, and students from poorer communities who are not developing literacy skills. For example, research shows that by the end of year 1, literacy achievement for many Māori children (in English-medium schools) is lower than for any other ethnic group, even when their starting point is similar. However, it also shows that these differences do not necessarily occur if teaching is made more effective through professional development and support.

The findings of the Educational Leadership Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration provide more insight into improving literacy and numeracy outcomes. The research shows large gains in achievement through school and home initiatives that support learning. It shows that bringing family and community knowledge into the classroom and using that knowledge as resource for the school can effectively strengthen teaching, decrease disparities across different curriculum areas, enhance learner identity, and raise achievement.

Case study from Educational Leaders –

There are a range of resources and readings to help us begin to understand and use appropriate pedagogies that will enhance learning for Māori, and all learners in literacy programmes at all levels of schooling.

Questions to think about in your school context

  • What is Māori literacy?
  • What are Māori perspectives on literacy?
  • What does literacy look like for Māori learners outside the classroom?
  • How can Māori literacy perspectives be implemented in the classroom?


Kimi Ora Community School
Bridget Harrison's class at Kimi Ora Community School is made up of 100% Māori and Pasifika students. Many of the students have English as a second language. In this clip she shares how they are using digital stories to scaffold the writing process. 

Using Māori and Pacific Pedagogies in Literacy Learning
An example of how a wharenui with carving, weaving and poi inside can be used to enhance reading, literacy, and language.

Multiple Literacies
Cheryl Stevens, Director of the National Institute for Māori Education, describes the importance of recognising visual and non-visual literacies, and how these are represented in Māori literacy.

For ways in which you can support bilingual and multilingual Māori students in English medium schools, see  Supporting Māori learners on ESOL Online.

Literacy resources

Supporting Māori learners
This section provides information and advice on delivering school library and information services that are inclusive and responsive to Māori learner needs in all New Zealand schools.

Picking up the pace
This research project delivered concentrated professional development in literacy instruction to groups of early childhood and new entrant teachers in decile one schools in Mangere and Otara. The outcome was a substantial lift in the reading and writing achievement of new entrants.

General resources

Ka Hikitia — Ka Hāpaitia
Ka Hikitia is a Ministry of Education strategy, designed to rapidly change how the education system performs so that all Māori students gain the skills, qualifications and knowledge they need to enjoy and achieve education success as Māori.

Te Kōtahitanga: Raising Māori student achievement
An initiative developed to improve teaching strategies and the effectiveness of teachers to increase the engagement and academic achievement of Māori students within mainstream secondary schools. As part of this project, an Effective Teaching Profile has been developed, giving teachers an inquiry framework from which to develop a Culturally Responsive Pedagogy.

Te Mana Kōrero
The Te Mana Kōrero series has been developed by the Ministry of Education to help teachers focus on quality teaching practices that can better engage Māori students in learning and improving academic and social outcomes. The film clips from Te Mana Kōrero, along with key questions and reflections are available from the Te Mana Kōrero kete.

Te Mangōroa
Te Mangōroa is a resource for English-medium schools. It is a portal to stories, reports, statistics, and reviews from across TKI and other sites that reflect effective practices to support Māori learners to achieve education success as Māori.

Te Tere Auraki: Māori students' success in English-medium
Te Tere Auraki is a Ministry of Education professional development strategy focusing on improving outcomes for Māori students in English-medium schools. This strategy supports four main Te Tere Auraki projects: Te Kotahitanga, Te Kauhua, Ako Panuku, and Te Mana Kōrero.

Effecting change for Māori students
A summary that starts to align NZ Curriculum with Ka Hikitia and Te Kotahitanga. 

To extend your thinking

Ka Hikitia – Case Studies starts a conversation amongst teachers, whānau, boards of trustees, principals and parents by sharing the stories of those who are engaged in making a difference for their Māori students. Its aim is to help those working in education to bring about successful outcomes for these students.

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Updated on: 03 Nov 2020