Kei Tua o te Pae

Kei Tua o te Pae/Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars is a best-practice guide that will help teachers continue to improve the quality of their teaching.

The exemplars are a series of books that will help teachers to understand and strengthen children's learning. It also shows how children, parents and whānau can contribute to this assessment and ongoing learning.

We are making improvements to our download-to-print functionality. So if you want a printed copy there are PDF versions available at the bottom of the main cover page.

Exemplars – Ngā tauaromahi

  • Making jam
    • At the centre, we have a plum tree. It was laden, and the fruit was sweet. Our kuia came to visit. They do not like to waste food, so we decided to use it all and make jam.


      This activity of making jam is not a particularly Māori thing to do, but embedded within the activity are the Māori tikanga – those cultural aspects that are distinctly and uniquely Māori. (We’re sure other cultures do similar activities underpinned by similar cultural values but represented in different ways.)

      Manaakitanga: Making jam was a community effort with everyone pitching in to help with everything from the karakia and gathering the fruit from Te Wao-nui-a-Tāne to cleaning and preparing the utensils etc. and to cooking, eating, and sharing the jam.

      Language (in te reo Māori)

      Identity (as Māori)

      Literacy: Oral and written (documentation and follow-up dictations)

      Numeracy links: Through the process of making jam, we used the counting we know and saw it embedded in a real context – sorting jars, collecting fruit (quantities), measuring ingredients in cooking, etc.

      Wairua links: Karakia, ngā hua o Te Wao-nui-a-Tāne

      Tikanga links: Manaaki – we made it to give away – the Māori process of mai i rā anō.

      The story – Te Tao Kai!

      Children making jam

      1. Me karakia mō ngā hua.

      Children making jam

      2. Piki i te arawhata.

      Children making jam

      3. Heke i te rākau.

      Children making jam

      4. Kātahi ka kai.

      Children making jam

      5. Katohia ngā paramu.

      Children making jam

      6. Me ine te taumaha- tanga o ngā paramu.

      Children making jam

      7. Kei te horoi ngā paramu.

      Children making jam

      8. Kei te āwhina a Toi i te kuia.

      Children making jam

      9. Kei te āta tapatapahi.

      Children making jam

      10. Horoia ngā ipu kia mā! 

      Children making jam

      11. Purua ki roto i te mìhini horoi ipu.

      Adult making jam

      Te Tunu Tiamu! 

      12. Kei te kōrorirori tiamu a Pāpā Tahu.

      Big pot of boiling jam

      13. Kei te koropupū te kōhua. 

      Children making jam

      14. Kei te kōrori rāua.

      Adult making jam

      15. Kei te whakama- hana ngā ipu.

      Children making jam

      16. Kei te eteete te tiamu.

      Adult making jam

      Children making jam

      17. Kia tūpato, kei te wera!

      Children making jam

      18. Kua hora te tēpu.

      Child eating jam

      20. Kua kī te puku. 

      Adults eating jam

      21. Mmmmmm, he reka te kai! 

      Kātahi ka kawe te toenga ki te Kura o Hato Tipene, hei āwhina atu i a rātou.

      “Nāku te rourou, nāu te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi.” 

  • Pihikete's learning
    • Dark-haired child watering plants Dark-haired child watering plants

      Learning story

      We were watering the plants the children had planted, and Pihikete started to share some of his views of the world. He talked to us about Papatūānuku and told us how everything grows from her. He then talked about Ranginui and how he cries and waters the plants. He also talked about the whakapapa of the creation story.

      What learning is going on here?

      What a wealth of knowledge Pihikete brings to the kindergarten about his own culture. He is so open about sharing his ideas and expressing his point of view – I could listen to him all day. Pihikete demonstrates such strong confidence, not only in his culture but also in himself. I feel it is a real privilege to be a part of Pihikete’s world.

      E te Whaea

      He mihi tino mahana tēnei ki a koe me tō tama Pihikete.
      Tino harikoa taku ngākau ki te whakarongo ki tō tama e kōrero ana mō Papatūānuku.
      He tama toa tēnei ki te mau ki tana reo me ōna tikanga.

  • Micah and his grandfather
    • This is a story about Micah and his grandfather, told by his mum.

      On Saturday mornings, Micah likes to come into our bed. It’s the only day we are able to lie in and have a cuddle with Micah because I leave for work at 6 a.m. during the week.

      One Saturday, a few weeks ago, Micah was absorbed in telling me the story about Tama and the God of the forest, Tāne (the legend the children were acting for the centre’s Christmas performance). He said, “Do you know that you have to ask the God of the forest for permission to cut down the trees? That’s what Tama did.” He went on to tell me in detail about the story of the waka. He said, “He didn’t ask for permission from the God of the forest, and the fairies made the trees stand up again (when Tama chopped them down) because Tama did not ask for permission.”

      I was so taken with the detail that I suggested we phone our poppa and tell him the story. He did, and the first thing Micah said to his poppa was, “Do you know that Tāne is the God of the forest, Poppa?” Poppa said, “I think he is the God of McDonald’s, Micah!” and they laughed together. “No, Poppa. He is God of the forest.”

      Micah told his poppa that you have to ask Tāne for permission to cut down the trees. He then went on and told the story again in great detail. At one point, Micah forgot the name of the God of the forest and he asked his Poppa what his name was. Poppa asked, “Is it Tāne?” Surprised, Micah replied, “How did you know that? You haven’t been to our day-care centre!”

      Halfway through, Micah asked, “How many times, Poppa, did the fairies put the trees up again?” Poppa said, “I think, two times.” “No, Poppa. Three times, not two!”

      What was really lovely was the fact that my father was not expecting it at all. It was a surprise to have this phone call from Micah.

      I think what made this story special was the detail and the pronunciation of the words and the fact that it had an impact on Micah. Best of all, my father was able to enjoy his grandson telling him something that he himself would have been told as a child.


  • Te Aranga responds to a photograph
    • Tōku tipuna

      Infant sitting on movie prop of a whale

      Te Rangihaeata (10 months) sits on a whale during a recent trip back to his marae. It is one of the props from the movie Whale Rider, which was based in his home town of Whāngārā mai Tawhiti on the outskirts of Gisborne.

      Te Rangihaeata’s pepeha

      Ko Pukehapopo te Maunga, Ko Waiomoko te Awa, Ko Whāngārā mai Tawhiti te Marae, Ko Ngāti Konohi te Iwi, Ko Paikea te Tangata.

      The legend of Paikea goes, in part, as follows: Paikea was the son of a great chief. One day, Paikea and his brother Ruatapu set out to sea in their waka on a voyage from Hawaiki to explore the surrounding lands. A number of prominent people from their tribe went with them. Ruatapu was very jealous of his brother and had set a trap to sink the waka and return to shore a hero.

      However, Paikea became aware of this ploy and began reciting a karakia, chanting for help from beyond to give him the strength to survive.

      Many of the people with him had already drowned. A whale came up out of the sea. Paikea climbed upon his back and was carried to the shore of what was to become his new home, Whāngārā mai Tawhiti, where he now sits upon his whale on top of the wharenui Whitireia.

      Learning story

      Over the past few months, Te Aranga (four and a half years), who also attends our centre, has been fascinated with all things to do with Paikea. He really enjoys dressing up, draping a piece of material around his shoulders like a cloak, and spending the rest of the day known only as “Paikea”. He likes discussing the Whale Rider movie with the whaea and his peers and singing the song “Paikea”, which depicts Paikea’s travels from Hawaiki to Aotearoa.

      So, when Te Aranga saw the picture of Te Rangihaeata, he couldn’t believe his eyes. We sat and had a discussion about where the photo had been taken, why the whale was on the grass, and how Te Rangihaeata got onto the whale.

      As the whale looked so lifelike, he was pleased to hear that it wasn’t, in fact, a real whale and that it would be OK and wouldn’t be hungry or lonely without its whānau.

      Te Aranga and Te Rangihaeata have a family link through Paikea, making the link beyond the centre environment even stronger. The picture of Te Rangihaeata is now on his pepeha, alongside those of the other children.

  • Hatupatu and the bird woman
    • Children: Joe and Elliot

      Date: 27 August

      Teacher: Shelley

      Joe and Elliot decided that they would like to illustrate the story of Hatupatu. They looked at each other for a minute, and then Joe said, “We could do it together, eh, Elliot?” Elliot agreed, and Joe said, “I’ll do the first page.” I encouraged them to draw the title page first so that we would know what the story was.

      At mat time, Joe and Elliot stood behind the overhead projector and put the pictures on one by one. Joe pointed out things in his picture like the cave and the bubbling hot mud pool. All the other children sat in rapt attention as they watched the story on the screen.

      Two children drawing

      Short-term review

      Illustrating this book allowed Joe to revisit his recent family holiday to Taupo and Rotorua, during which the family looked for the cave where Hatupatu hid from the bird woman and saw the bubbling hot mud pools. It ties in with the book he made about that holiday and brought in to kindergarten.

      What next?

      Joe is going from strength to strength. It is fabulous to see him sharing his strengths with his peers, showing consideration and respect for their input, and becoming a mentor and role model for the other children. More of the same, please!

      Child's drawing of birdwoman and mud pools Child's drawing of birdwoman and mud pools

       Child's drawing of birdwoman and mud pools Child's drawing of birdwoman and mud pools

  • Pierre's learning
    • Date: 30 August

      Teacher: Lorraine

      Learning story

      Pierre discovered a shape puzzle that seemed to fascinate him. He sat manipulating the shapes for about 10 minutes.

      Each time he touched one, he’d look up and say, “Da, da.” I gave him the name for each shape in English and te reo.

      He carefully examined each shape before attempting to place it on the puzzle – a very reflective, studied approach!

      Although it was a wet day and there was considerable activity around him, he persisted at his task, undeterred by the noise and action!

      Short-term review

      What amazing concentration, especially given the clamour around him. Pierre, I’m impressed! This puzzle had discreet geometric shapes and was brightly coloured. Pierre was able to manipulate these shapes and place the pieces in the puzzle correctly after careful experimentation. He was quite happy without my participation, yet as I provided language labels for him, he looked up with anticipation to hear the next name. He is gathering connections between language, objects, and events. I hoped that providing te reo for each shape would support the language interaction Pierre experiences at home.

      Date: 18 September

      Teacher: Jo

      Learning story

      It was early in the morning, and we were in the main playroom. Pierre moved around the room, looking at different play equipment. He approached the bookshelf, reached out, and chose three different books. He carried them over to Caroline, doing very well as the books were heavy and quite a struggle! He handed the books to Caroline, who said, “Would you like me to read a story?” Pierre’s smile lit up his face.

      He laughed. He then proceeded to sit down, backing carefully onto Caroline’s lap. She held the story in front of him and started to read. Pierre stared intently at the book, and his eyes moved, following the pictures. Pierre was happy to share his book with another child who approached and didn’t mind involving other children in this special time.

      Short-term review

      Pierre shows great interest in books and initiated a wonderful shared learning experience.

      Date: 9 April

      Whānau voice

      We appreciate and commend you guys for your timeless efforts, always reinforcing what we do at home as well as offering him many new life experiences. Nō reira, kia ora koutou mō te mahi ako.

      Date: 8 May

      Teacher: Lorraine

      Learning story

      I picked up a book that had been lying on the ground. Noticing this, Pierre zoned in from the other side of the lawn. He beamed his characteristic smile, especially noticeable where books are concerned, and requested, “Book! Book!” We found a comfortable spot and began to read. The book was already very familiar, judging from the way Pierre responded to the text and pictures. We read the words in Māori and then in English, and as we did so, I guided his finger around the shape: “He porohita whero: a red circle; he tapawhā kākāriki: a green square” and so on until we finished.

      Pierre has great book skills. He turned the pages in sequence and listened intently as he matched the spoken word with the text and picture. He’s been interested in shapes for a long time, and I recall a learning story when he was in “crawling mode” that showed his intense concentration with a shape puzzle. At that stage, we were already using te reo and English to name the shapes, and he responded by looking at me, waiting for the language label, then acknowledging this with a positive-sounding babble. No need this time to fathom his private language as he repeated the phrases after me, at first a little tentatively and then quite clearly. We had plenty of time to explore the book and read it through at least three times.

      Teacher’s voice

      While half an hour later I’d moved on to other things, Pierre still had his special book tucked under his arm. Later that day, when his father came to collect him, we discussed Pierre’s intense interest and involvement with this particular book. As we chatted, Kim (a colleague) told me that earlier that morning Pierre had been very focused on a book called We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and that she had a learning story in progress. We found both books and offered them to Pierre to take home so that he could enjoy them again with his parents. As we flipped through He Kaui by Manu Te Awa, Marty, Pierre’s father, made the comment that the text and illustration were very clearly linked. I had previously been very thankful for this as it made it easier for me to translate without constant referral to the glossary at the back. Marty gave me some helpful tips on grammar, linking the way we would usually construct an English sentence with the form in Māori. I found this really useful.

      Many times when I move tentatively into things “bicultural”, I do so uneasily as the last thing I want to do is offer a token gesture. Yet to do nothing is worse. Using te reo in natural, meaningful ways is one avenue, but having ongoing dialogue with families keeps the learning fresh and relevant as we find out together what is important.

  • Jace and the taiaha
    • January

      Lauren (a teacher) brought in a CD of children from the Burnham Primary School kapa haka group.

      As soon as Jace walked into the nursery today, he stood still upon hearing the music that was playing. He seemed to recognise the waiata. Jace just stood there, listening and looking around the room at the teachers and the other children.

      A short time later, he began to move his body to the music, stamping his feet in time to the waiata playing. He seemed familiar with the actions for this piece of music. The other children noticed his response and joined in. Everyone then copied the actions as Jace led this spontaneous activity.

      Thank you, Jace, for teaching us the traditional movements for this waiata.


      When Jace’s mother arrived in the afternoon, we shared this experience with her. She said that Jace has been going with her to kapa haka practices in the evenings.

      Jace discovered a familiar experience here at the centre, drawing on funds of knowledge from home. His spontaneous response to the waiata provided some valuable learning here for us all. Thank you, Jace, for the confident way you shared your knowledge.

      What next?

      We were amazed at the knowledge and competence that Jace has in things Māori. This experience has challenged us to use more te reo Māori and tikanga Māori in the centre.

      Jace’s story also challenges us as teachers to recognise and include children’s involvement in the wider local community within the planned experiences we offer each day, helping the children to make connections with the people, places, and things in their world.

      We will continue to notice and respond to Jace’s interest in kapa haka and to build his confidence in sharing this knowledge with us.

      February 25

      Today, the Queen visited the Burnham Camp. The local kapa haka group was performing for Her Majesty. We set up a TV set in the toddler room so that Jace and the other children could experience this event. Jace recognised his mother taking part in the pōwhiri (she was the kaikaranga). He called out, “Mum, Mum” when she appeared on the television. He moved to the television and touched the screen. The teachers all acknowledged this moment. He then sat back with the rest of the children, smiling proudly at everyone in the room.


      In April, when he turned two years of age, Jace began the transition to the over-twos’ area. He would go over and play with the younger group of children who he knew from the past. When he saw the under-twos’ teachers and children outside, he would go and stand by the fence, arms stretched out, wanting to come back. Over two weeks, Jace continued to “touch base” with the under-twos’ staff.

      The “me” sheet (sheet containing information from home), written by his parents in June for his new teachers in the over-twos’ centre, highlights Jace’s interest and passion for dancing and listening to waiata and his skill in performing the haka. Much of this interest remained unnoticed by the over-twos’ teachers as he spent time becoming familiar with his new environment and the older children. Several entries in his journal show his interest in the climbing equipment and note the new physical challenges he undertakes in the outdoor space. After a while, his abilities in kapa haka again became evident.

      June 6

      Today, Jace performed a haka for us. He picked up the broom and, holding it in one hand like a taiaha, he bounced up and down with his knees bent saying, “Hi, ha.” At the end of his haka, he stuck out his tongue and opened his eyes wide, showing us how to pūkana. Later, outside, he was observed with a rake in hand, initiating this activity with several of the older boys.


      Jace has really developed confidence in initiating relationships with the children and teachers here. Jace has a strong interest in waiata, haka, and te reo and is willing to share his knowledge with others.

      What next?

      Talk to Jace’s parents about his use of taiaha. When is it appropriate to use taiaha? Should we provide a “taiaha” for him? What is his involvement with kapa haka? This challenges us as teachers. We have been talking about gaining confidence and supporting biculturalism more and the need to seek professional development.

      Cilla met with Jace’s mum to talk about Jace’s involvement in kapa haka and to seek some guidance as to what she would like them to do to support Jace.

      August 26

      Jace will use anything that resembles a taiaha, such as sticks, brooms, or toy spades.

      Jace has been given plenty of opportunities to observe or participate with kapa haka. His mum and his older brother are involved in kapa haka groups in Burnham Camp. Jace goes along with his mum and observes the practices. He also gets to observe kapa haka performances done by the primary school, community, or army as his whānau have copies of them on video.

      When Jace gets undressed, he loves to perform the haka in his nappy. He has been doing this for quite some time at home and has recently started doing it at pre-school (before sleep time). When Jace performs the haka, he stamps his feet, does arm actions, and gets down on his knees and ends with pūkana. His mother says that sometimes it becomes a battle to get his clothes back on and that he loves to show off when he gets the chance.

      Jace enjoys listening to waiata and seems to pick up the words with ease. What I found very interesting is that Jace is not taught te reo at home. His mother is aware that he is picking up the language and so are his teachers. His mother told me a story about Jace’s nan and koro – kaumātua for Burnham – and how they have encouraged Jace to speak te reo. His mother sees his nan and koro on a regular basis, due to practices and performances, and they greet Jace in Māori. He has learned key words, such as “tēnā koe”, “kia ora”, and “hōhā”.

      I did ask his mother about the protocol with the use of taiaha and whether we should be supporting this interest. Her response was that we should not worry about it. She will continue to take him along to kapa haka practice and performances and he will develop his culture from there.

      Jace’s stories have prompted the teachers’ interest in extending their use of te reo to a point where we have a teacher attending evening te reo classes.


  • A bilingual "parent's voice"
    • June 18

      Belonging | Mana whenua

      Taking an interest

      Finding an interest here – a topic, an activity, a role. Recognising the familiar, enjoying the unfamiliar. Coping with change.

      Wellbeing | Mana atua

      Being involved

      Paying attention for a sustained period, feeling safe, trusting others. Being playful with others and/or materials. 

      Exploration | Mana aotūroa

      Persisting with difficulty

      Setting and choosing difficult tasks. Using a range of strategies to solve problems when ‘stuck’ (be specific).

      Communication | Mana reo

      Expressing an idea or a feeling

      In a range of ways (specify). For example: oral language, gesture, music, art, writing, using numbers and patterns, telling stories. 

      Contribution | Mana tangata

      Taking responsibility

      Responding to others, to stories, and imagined events, ensuring that things are fair, self-evaluating, helping others, contributing to programme. 

      Parent's story text

      Parent's story text