Kura Kaupapa Māori

Kura Kaupapa Māori

Kura Kaupapa Māori are Māori-language immersion schools (kura) where the philosophy and practice reflect Māori cultural values with the aim of revitalising Māori language, knowledge and culture. The term Kaupapa Māori is used popularly by Māori to mean any particular plan of action created by Māori to express Māori aspirations, values and principles. [cite web |author=Royal, Charles |title=Methodology |work=Rangahau |publisher= Te Whare Wānanga o Awānuirangi, Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga and Māori and Indigenous Research Institute (IRI) The University of Auckland |url=http://www.rangahau.co.nz/methodology/59/|accessdate=2008-05-25 ]


The establishment of Kura Kaupapa Māori schools in New Zealand followed a 1971 report by researcher Richard Benton that the Māori language was in a critical near-death stage. By the 1980s Māori communities "were so concerned with theloss of Maori language, knowledge and culture that they took matters into their own hands and set up their own learning institutions at pre-school, elementary school, secondary school and tertiary levels" (G Smith 2003:6-7)

The establishment of Kohanga Reo, Māori-language pre-schools triggered a series of initiatives in schooling andeducation by Māori, initially outside of the mainstream education system. The need for Māori language elementary schools arose when parents were concerned that their children who had finished Kohanga Reo quickly lost their language once they started at mainstream elementary schools. Thus Kura Kaupapa Māori are part of an series of Māori-led initiatives aimed at strengthening the language, affirming cultural identity, and encouraging community involvement (G Smith 2003:8-11).

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Hoani Waititi, Henderson, West Auckland is generally credited as being the first Kura Kaupapa Maori to be established in 1985. The "Kura Kaupapa Maori movement" is a term commonly used to describe parents and supporters of Kura Kaupapa Maori.The term emerged when the first kura was established. Citation
url =
last = Te Runanga Nui o nga Kura Kaupapa Maori o Aotearoa
first =
title = Including Te Aho Matua into s155 of the Education Act, 1989. A Submission to the Associate Minister of Education
publisher =
date = 29 September 1998
pages =
isbn =
] [ [http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0708/S00434.html "Sharples Hawkes Bay Principal conference", "Scoop"] 24 August, 2007.] Citation
url = http://www.nzcer.org.nz/pdfs/11374.htm
last = Baker
first = Robyn
title = Parental and community involvement in schools - opportunities and challenges for school change", "NZ Council for Educational Research
publisher = New Zealand Council for Educational Research
date = 12 March, 2002
pages =
isbn =
retrived on 11 June 2008]

In 1987 a working party was established to investigate an alternative schooling modelthat would better meet the aspirations of Maori communities in New Zealand. The working party consisted of Dr Katerina Mataira, Dr Pita Sharples, Dr Graham Smith, Dr Linda Smith, Cathy Dewes, Tuki Nepe, Rahera Shortland, Pen Bird and Toni Waho. The working party adopted Te Aho Matua as being the foundation set of principles that guide the operations of a Kura Kaupapa Maori.

Kura Kaupapa Maori originate from humble beginnings. It took 5 years from the first Kura Kaupapa Maori to be established for the government to begin funding kura kaupapa Maori. In the early years, from 1985 to 1995, almost all Kura Kaupapa Maori were accommodated at some stage in a place or venue that accommodate children for little or no rent. Parents fundraised to resource Kura Kaupapa Maori until the government officially recognised and funded the school. Kura acknowledge two anniversary dates, some times three. The date in which the kura first established itself, and the date it became an official school in New Zealand, such as Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Kotuku in Te Atatu, Auckland. This kura was established by parents in 1993 and was officially recongised as a state school in 2002. The kura does not expect to be in permanent school premises until 2010 (17 years later after being established.) [ [http://www.parliament.nz/mi-NZ/PB/Debates/Debates/4/5/8/48HansD_20060502_00000881-Education-Amendment-Bill-In-Committee.htm "Parliament Hansard Volume:630;Page:2630- Dr Pita Sharples"] 2 May, 2006.]


In 1987, one of the recommendations of the Tomorrow's Schools' Picot Report, a major education reform affecting all New Zealand schools, recommended to the government that Maori communities be able to establish and govern their own schools. Therefore the 1989 Education Act was amended to include Section 155 which provides for the Minister of Education to designate a state school as a Kura Kaupapa Māori by notice in the New Zealand Gazette. Although the Act was amended, many kura communities were dissatisfied because the amendment did not adequately define the unique character of a Kura Kaupapa Maori.

On 16 July 1999, the Education (Te Aho Matua) Amendment Act 1999, amended Section 155 of the Education Act 1989. Maori communities wanted the unique charater of Kura Kaupapa Maori to be protected in law. At the request of Te Runanga Nui, the Minister of Maori Affairs and associate Miniter of Education Hon. Tau Henare was the Minister responsible for the Education (Te Aho Matua) Amendment Act becoming a statue in New Zealand. The Te Aho Matua amendment made it a requirement that Kura Kaupapa Maori adhere to the principles of Te Aho Matua. The amendment recognised Te Runanga Nui o nga Kura Kaupapa Maori as the kaitiaki (guardians, caretakers and architects), the most suitable body responsible for determining the content of Te Aho Matua, and for ensuring that it is not changed to the detriment of Maori. [ [http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/MPP/MPs/MPs/3/8/4/48MP127391-Henare-Tau.htm "NZ member of Parliament profile"] 6 June 2008.] [ [http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1989/0080/latest/DLM182441.html?search=ts_act_education+act+1989"Parliamentary Counsel Office, Section 155, Education Act 1989"] 6 June 2008.] [ [http://www.austlii.edu.au/nz/legis/consol_act/eamaa1999279.pdf"Education (Te Aho Matua) Amendment Act, 1999"] 6 June 2008.]

According to Graham Smith, the charter "provides the guidelines for excellence in Maori, that is, what a good Maori education should entail. It also acknowledges Pakeha culture and skills required by Maori children to participate fully and at every level in modern New Zealand society" (G Smith 2003:10).

Te Aho Matua (Lit: the main thread) Governing principles

Written in the Māori language, Te Aho Matua o nga Kura Kaupapa Maori [http://www.dia.govt.nz/pubforms.nsf/NZGZT/Supplement_TeAho32Feb08.pdf/$file/Supplement_TeAho32Feb08.pdf "Official version of Te Aho Matua o nga Kura Kaupapa Maori and English explanation"] 6 June, 2008.] are the principles Kura Kaupapa Maori are required to adhere to. The principles are underpinned by Maori values, beliefs and customs. On Thursday 21st January 2008, Te Aho Matua along with an explanation in English was published in the New Zealand Gazette by Hon. Parekura Horomia When Te Aho Matua was introduced into parliament to become legislated, an English explanation was written by Dr Katerina Mataira. [cite web|url=http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/new+framework+reviewing+te+aho+matua+kura+kauapapa+m%C4%81ori|title=New framework for reviewing Te Aho Matua kura kauapapa Māori|first=Parekura|last=Horomia|date=22 February 2008]

Te Aho Matua has six sections:
# Te Ira Tangata (the human essence), affirms the nature of the child as a human being with spiritual, physical and emotional requirements
#Te Reo (language), deals with language policy and how the schools can 'best advance the language learning of their children'
# Ngā Iwi (people), focuses on 'the social agencies which influence the development of children, in short, all those people with whom they interact as they make sense of their world and find their rightful place within it'
#Te Ao (the world), deals with 'the world which surrounds children and about which there are fundamental truths which affect their lives'
#Ahuatanga Ako (circumstances of learning), 'provides for every aspect of learning which the whānau feel is important for their children, as well as the requirements of the national curriculum'
#Ngā Tino Uaratanga (essential values), 'focuses on what the outcome might be for children who graduate from Kura Kaupapa Māori' and 'defines the characteristics which Kura Kaupapa Māori aim to develop in their children'.

Te Runanga Nui (national body)

In 1993, Uru Gardiner, the principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Ati Hau Nui A Paparangi asked key architects of Kura Kaupapa Māori to visit Wanganui. Her kura whanau (parents and extended family of the school community) wanted to seek advice on good practise for establishing a kura kaupapa Maori. When Maori communities from around New Zealand learnt of this hui (gathering) they asked if they could attend. Consequently, Te Runanga Nui o Nga Kura Kaupapa Maori o Aotearoa, commonly known as Te Runanga Nui was established in 1993 at Kawhaiki marae on the Whanganui river. At the hui (gathering) Dr Pita Sharples became the inaugural Tumuaki (president) of Te Runanga Nui.

Te Runanga Nui is the national collective body of Kura Kaupapa Māori Te Aho Matua communities. An incoporated society, the organisation holds its Annual General meeting, in different locations throughout New Zealand, usually on the last weekend of March each year. Meetings are mostly conducted in Māori. The purpose of the organisation is to support Kura Kaupapa Māori whanau (communities that consist of parents and extended family members) realise their aspirations for their schools. They engage in discussions and negotiations with the government, Ministry of Education, the Education Review Office and other organisations who have a vested interest in Kura Kaupapa Maori.

The organisation is split up into ten geographaic regions, and kura kaupapa Maori belong to a particular region. At its Annual General meeting, each region elects a mangai (representative) who becomes a member of the Te Runanga Whaiti (Executive Committee). Two regions like Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland) and Te Upoko o te Ika (Lower North island) have two mangai. Te Runanga Whaiti meets several times of the year, usually in Auckland to discuss issues affecting kura kaupapa maori. The issues can vary. The organisation also elects a Tumuaki (president) at its AGM. The current Tumuaki is Hone Mutu. The organisation has a small secretariat. The current kaitakawaenga (co-ordinator) is Arapine Walker [http://www.firstprincipals.ac.nz/documents/ResCourseTwoProgSeptFinalVersion.pdf] and is supported by Te Tari Tautoko (Support Team).

The nine geographical regions of Te Runanga Nui are Te Hiku (Northland), Tāmaki-makau-rau (Auckland), Tainui (Waikato), Mataatua (Bay of Plenty), Te Puku (Central North Island), Tai-rāwhiti (East Coast), Taranaki, Te Ati Hau Nui A Paparangi (South Taranaki), Te Upoko o te Ika (Wellington), and Te Waka (South Island).

Former tumuaki (presidents or chairpersons) of the Runanga Nui were: Dr Pita Sharples; [ [http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0708/S00434.htm Scoop: Sharples: Hawkes Bay Primary Principals Conference ] ] Bert McLean, Cathy Dewes, Arni Wainui and Hohepa Campbell. [ [http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/kua+whakapakaritia+ake+te+akoranga+o+te+reo+m%C3%A4ori+i+roto+i+te+taitokerau Beehive - Kua whakapakaritia ake te akoranga o Te Reo Mäori i roto i Te Taitokerau ] ] The current tumuaki is Hone Mutu.

Types of Kura Kaupapa Maori

Different types of Kura Kaupapa Maori have emerged because of resourcing arrangements used by the Ministry of Education to fund and staff kura. All Kura Kaupapa Maori are co-educational and are part of the compulsory schooling sector of New Zealand state schools. Early childhood centres, kohanga Reo and Universities, Technical institutes or whare wananga in New Zealand are not part of the of the compulsory schooling sector.

Kura Tuatahi (Primary schools)

There are three types of primary schools in New Zealand. The different types are; full primary, contributing primary and restricted primary. Full primary schools teach children from Years 1 to 8, contributing primary schools teach from Year 7 to 8 and restricted teach children from Years 1 - 6 or from Years 7 - 8. Only children who turn 5 years old are eligble to be enrolled in these schools and the age of children ranges from 5 years old to 13 years old. Most of the children who enroll in kura tuatahi (Primary school) enrol at a kura after turning 5 and graduating from a Kohanga Reo (a Maori language learning nest child centre).

Kura Arongatahi (Composite schools)

Almost all kura started as a full primary school. Kura Arongatahi teach from Years 1 to Years 15. The age of children ranges from 5 years old to 18 years old, although in New Zealand the compulsory leaving age is 16. Students enrolled from Year 11 to Year 13 undertake NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement). However, before a composite school can award NCEA qualifications, the school must be an accredited provider with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. A kura can only become a composite once the Minister of Education has approved its change of class application. Approval to become a kura arongatahi can take many years, usually at least two years. Funding and staffing of these kura is different to those of kura tuatahi. In 2008 there were 15 Kura Kaupapa Maori Te Aho Matua composite schools. A composite school in New Zealand can also be classified as a Area school. In recognition of becoming an area school or composite school, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Mangere, in Mangere, Auckland, changed its name to Te Kura Kaupapa Maori a rohe o Mangere. Sometimes the Minister of Education will not approve a change of class application to become a full composite school, instead the minister will approve the application so that the kura can become a restricted composite school. A restricted composite school usually allows a kura to teach children from Years 1 to 10. Gaining restricted composite school status does not limit a kura from eventually gaining full composite status in the future.

Wharekura (Secondary schools)

A wharekura is a kura who teaches children from Years 9 to Years to Years 15. All of these kura are composite schools. In recognition of gaining wharekura status, one kura, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Arowhenua in Invercargill changed its name to Te wharekura o Arowhenua. Not all kura when gaining wharekura status will change their name.

Kura Tuakana (Mentoring schools)

Some primary and composite kura kaupapa Maori become a Kura Tuakana (Mentoring school). Prior to a formal establishment process being adopted by the government, Kura Kaupapa Maori would satellite a Kura Teina (Mentored school) - another non government funded Kura Kaupapa Maori school community. This arrangement did not require Ministry of Education approval and was the mechanism used by the Kura Kaupapa Maori movement to increase the number of Kura around New Zealand. The satellite arrangement allowed the Kura Tuakana to give funding and staffing to the Kura Teina.

In 2001, the Ministry of Education negotiated a formal process for establishing new Kura with Te Runanga Nui. The process now requires an applicant Kura whanau to apply. Once the Minister of Education is satified with the application, a Kura Tuakana is assigned to support and mentor the applicant. Only selected Kura Kaupapa Maori can become a Kura Tuakana and must be able to demonstrate their ability to mentor the Kura teina.

Kura Teina (Mentored schools)

Kura Teina are applicant Kura Kaupapa Maori school communities who have applied to the Ministry of education to become a standalone primary school. The kura teina operates and teaches children, either at the primary school year levels (Years 1 to 8) or at the wharekura school year levels (Years 9 - 15) or sometimes at primary and wharekura school year levels. Te wharekura o Manurewa, Auckland, is the only Kura Kaupapa Maori that did not establish as a primary school. The school is satellited to Te Kura Kaupapa Maori a rohe o Mangere, located in Mangere, Auckland.

chool Organisation

Governance Arrangements

Each Kura Kaupapa Maori established in accordance with the Education Act, has a governing body. Kura have a Board of Trustees where five parent representatives are elected and it is defined in its constitution when school is gazzeted in the New Zealand gazzette. The principal and an elected staff representative automatically becomes a member of that Board. For many kura, all parents become the governing body. Graha Smiths says " a key principle of kaupapa maori, is the involvement of whanau (all parents)'. This type of governance arrangement requires all parents to become actively involved at all levels of school operations. Kura that operate a whanau governance arrangement do not support the Board of Trustees model.

Like other state schools, the governing body is required to develop and adopt a school charter, strategic plan and annual plan. Policies also are developed to support the whanau and management to run the day to day affairs of the school.

taffing and Funding

The principal and all staff are employees of the governing bod. The number of teachers is dependent on the number of children enrolled. Tere are two roll calculation dates for all New Zealand schools, used to calculate staffing numbers and Teachers. The dates are known as the 1 March and 1 July roll return

Times and Days Open

Kura Kaupapa Maori are required to follow the stipulated number of days the school is required to be open in accordance with Ministry of education guidelines. Primary school Kura Kaupapa Maori primary schools are open for instruction from 9 am to 3. The schools have the authority to change the times. Composite Kura Kaupapa Maori are required to be open for a longer period during the day because composite schools are open fewer days of the year than primary schools. Time and dates a kura is open varies from kura to kura.

Te Reo Maori Funding

Kura Kaupapa Maori receive additional funding to help them develop and maintain their Te Reo Maori immersion environment. A immersion leveling system is the mechanism used to calculate the funding. Kura are at level 1. This means that the language of instruction, the principal language used the teachers, Te Reo Maori in the classroom must be from 81% to 100%. it is common for teachers to not speak any English to their children at kura. An additional salary allowance (MITA - Maori Immersion Teacher allowance) is also paid to fulltime teachers who teach at Level 1.


It is normal for no English to be spoken on the grounds of a kura. English may only be spoken in a designated area. Some primary kura teach English. All composite kura teach English as a subject to the Year 9 - 15 students.

Classroom Organisation

Because of small roll numbers, most kura organise classrooms for a range of year levels. Year 1 and Year 2 students, are grouped separately, from Year 2 to Year 5 students, while Year 6 to Year 8 students sepearately. Kura have flexibility to organise their classrooms levels according to their priorities. Most kura operate a single cell classroom set up. This is where children are taught in one classroom by a single teacher. Two Kura have an open plan teaching arrangement where children of many year levels are taught by many teachers large open teaching space.

Karakia (Prayer)

Karakia is central to kura kaupapa Maori and the spiritual well-being of Maori. Meetings will begin with a prayer. Children at the start and end of the day will undertake karakia with their kaiako. On special occasions, when new schools are opened or at special school events, kaumatua (elders) of the community will undertake special karakia. Children are taught to honour and practise karakia. There are two common forms of prayer that is practised in kura. These are Christian based and Kaupapa Maori based karakia.


Te Aho Matua requires that the curriculum of a kura be holistic. A kura strategic plan will determine the strategic direction the whanau (parents, principal, teachers) have for the learning of their children. Learning programmes are themed, incorporate Maori cultural perspectives, honours Maori customs and traditions and validates Maori knowledge. The curriculum is outcome focussed. Student ahchievement targets are defined to support the planning of learning programmes and assessment practise.

List of Kura Kaupapa Māori


*cite web |author=Smith, Graham H. |date=2003 |title=Kaupapa Maori Theory: Theorizing Indigenous Transformation of Education & Schooling |work=Kaupapa Maori Symposium: NZARE/AARE Joint Conference |publisher= Australian Association for Research in Education |url=http://www.aare.edu.au/03pap/pih03342.pdf|accessdate=2008-05-25

*cite book
author=New Zealand. Department of Education
title=Administering for excellence: effective administration in education (Picot Report)
id=ISBN x-xxxxxx-xx-x
publisher=Wellington: Government Printer

*cite book
author=Te Runanga Nui o Nga Kura Kaupapa Maori o Aotearoa
title=Including Te Aho Matua into s155 of the Education Act 1989. A Submission to the Associate Minister of Education
id=ISBN x-xxxxxx-xx-x
publisher=Te Runanga Nui o Nga Kura Kaupapa Maori o Aotearoa


External links

* Wellington, New Zealand, Te Köhanga Reo National Trust, [http://www.kohanga.ac.nz/history.html Te Kohanga Reo history ] retrieved on 8 June 2008
* Wellington, New Zealand, Department of Internal Affairs [http://www.dia.govt.nz/pubforms.nsf/NZGZT/Supplement_TeAho32Feb08.pdf/$file/Supplement_TeAho32Feb08.pdf Official version of Te Aho Matua o nga Kura Kaupapa Maori and english explanation] retrieved on 8 June 2008
* Wellington, New Zealand, Parliamentary Counsel Office [http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1989/0080/latest/DLM182441.html?search=ts_act_education+act+1989 Section 155, Education Act 1989] retrieved on 8 June 2008
* Hawaii, USA [http://www.ahapunanaleo.org/ 'Aha Punana Leo] retrieved on 8 June 2008

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