Te Whatu Pōkeka (English)

This resource aims to stimulate debate and to encourage people to share their experiences and views on the ideas, suggestions, and practices within it. It is hoped that kaupapa Māori early childhood services will then be able to validate, share, and build on the values, philosophies, and practices related to assessment based on kaupapa Māori.

Best of Both Worlds


Best of Both Worlds is located in Papakura, South Auckland. It was established in 1995. Due to lengthy waiting lists, a second centre opened in 2004. The centres serve a community that is low socio-economically and has a high population of Māori and Pacific Islands families. There are 34 children in one centre and 33 in the other and 16 teachers altogether. Most of the children attending the centre are Māori although a diverse range of cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities is represented. The centre has a bicultural, bilingual programme.


To support children’s identity, self-esteem, and confidence for life and to enable children: to learn, understand, and implement their tikanga; to challenge and test boundaries; to take risks and problem solve; to establish relationships and ongoing friendships; to learn life skills in an environment where they are loved and understood.

The journey

In early 2002, Best of Both Worlds was approached to participate in the National Early Childhood Learning and Assessment (NECLA) project. The work on the national exemplar project required that the centre articulate their assessment procedures and provoked much thought about what learning they should be capturing, and how. The centre was using a mixture of assessment processes including checklists and photographs.

In 2003, the centre was approached to work on the Kaupapa Māori Learning and Assessment Exemplar (KMLAE) project. Educators were positive about the opportunity to further develop their assessment processes and understandings, especially through a project that had a strong Māori focus. The responses to the project and the project objectives were extremely positive and timely. Their previous work had been the catalyst for the educators to begin to examine how tikanga Māori was represented in practice and what implications it had for children’s learning. They saw that the KMLAE project allowed them to extend the progress they had made, and they expressed enthusiasm about the opportunity to explore and articulate what kaupapa Māori early childhood education and assessment meant to them and how it may be expressed in the future.

Educators indicated that although many centres work from a kaupapa Māori base, they rarely had the opportunity and space to analyse in any depth what this meant or to articulate their understandings of the concepts, values, and understandings that underpinned their philosophy.

The work on the project has required re-examining the centre’s kaupapa, and how tikanga Māori is, and could be, characterised in practice. This review of the kaupapa has been a useful opportunity to encourage thinking and understandings around what is important learning for children. It has opened pathways to new and exciting activities and events and strengthened tikanga Māori and the sense of being Māori in the centre.

It has also required kaiako to develop their understandings of assessment and how it relates to the curriculum. There was a need to move past the “lovely” stories to the key learning, and how learning can be documented. Probably the biggest barrier to progress for the centre has been the time and energy requirements of kaimahi working on the project.

Best of Both Worlds has for many years viewed Māui as a mentor, an inspiration for the centre's practice. Through  the work on the project, the staff have been able to articulate their understandings of how Māui's characteristics could be utilised as a way of assessing teaching and learning in their particular context. They are desirable and to be emulated. Furthermore, there is the realisation that Māui is the product of his whakapapa. Children are also products of their whakapapa - they therefore bring with them the talents, understandings, and abilities of their tīpuna - they are extremely rich with potential. Best of Both Worlds has developed a framework that emphasises the following aspects of Māui's character:

  • Mana: identity – pride – inner strength
  • Manaakitanga/aroha: caring – sharing – kindness – supporting others – being a friend
  • Whakakata: humour – fun
  • Tinihanga/whakatoi: cunning – trickery – cheekiness
  • Pātaitai/kaitoro: testing – challenging – questioning – curiosity – exploring – risk-taking
  • Arahina/māiatanga: confidence – self-reliance – leadership – perseverance – self-assurance
  • Māramatanga: developing understandings – working through difficulty – lateral thinking
  • Ngā hononga: tuakana–teina – ako – whanaungatanga