Supporting rangatahi with common-sense solutions

by Ngā Haeata Mātauranga The Annual Report on Māori Education 2007/08


In this case study, Newlands College deputy principal John Murdoch reflects on his school’s experience in setting up a whānau advisory group. The group began in response to data showing the college’s year 9 Māori students were struggling.

In 2006, following the establishment of the advisory group, the Education Review Office (ERO) noted its potential to help lift the achievement of Māori learners. ERO also commended the school overall for improving its use and analysis of student achievement data, particularly for Māori in years 9 and 10.

Professional school leadership, effective teaching, and whānau engagement all have the potential to positively influence Māori learners’ achievement. Research finds that sustained parental involvement (focused on learning activities) can improve young people’s levels of achievement.

For example, data from asTTLe* shows that student achievement in Māori-medium education is significantly improved if there is at least one adult who speaks a little Māori with them at home.

Effective whānau and education partnerships value the expertise of each party and involve partners working together to achieve shared goals.

In 2007, ERO evaluated engagement with parents, whānau, and communities at 233 schools. Parents and whānau noted that their involvement with school decreased as their children moved from primary to intermediate and on to secondary.

Where partnerships between families and schools worked well, the benefits for learners included:

  • having their parents, whānau, and communities notice and celebrate their successes and achievements
  • feeling more motivated and engaged at school
  • talking about their schoolwork at home
  • feeling more confident about their schoolwork
  • finding transitions between schools easier
  • wanting to stay longer at school.

Reflective questions

These questions may guide you as you read the case study:

  • Deputy principal John Murdoch talks about the school’s desire to see parents’ perspectives better represented at the school. How could your school give parents a meaningful voice? How could your school engage with whānau in ways that support the engagement and achievement of young Māori learners? What relationships could help you achieve this goal, and why?
  • Craig Fransen, the college’s Māori dean, says giving whānau a legitimate voice at school through the advisory group has encouraged other parents to get more involved. Why do think that is? What are some new ways you could support whānau and school relationships?
  • Fransen also discusses the importance of sharing data with whānau in ways that make sense and help them contribute to the school’s decision-making processes. How could you use and present data to your school community to achieve a similar goal? What data would help your whānau better support their children’s learning at home?

Further reading

Education Counts Māori Education homepage

Ngā Haeata Mātauranga The Annual Report on Māori Education. Read the latest evidence and data relating to Māori education. This report starts the process of reporting on Ka Hikitia Managing for Success Māori Education Strategy 2008–2012, which sets out the Ministry’s strategic approach to achieving education success for, and with, Māori.


Ministry of Education (February 2009). Ngā Haeata Mātauranga The Annual Report on Māori Education 2007/08. Wellington: Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Education (December 2007). Ngā Haeata Mātauranga The Annual Report on Māori Education 2006/07. Wellington: Ministry of Education.

*Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning (he pūnaha aromatawai mō te whakaako me te ako), 
an educational resource for assessing literacy and numeracy (in both English and 
Māori-medium) developed for the Ministry of Education by the University of Auckland.

Tags: Māori student achievement

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