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.

Te Kōhanga Reo o Ngā Kuaka


Te Kōhanga Reo o Ngā Kuaka derives its name from discussions held with the university’s Māori Department in 1989. In previous years there had been a Māori student group called Ngā Kuaka Marangaranga. They called themselves this because of the way students, like the kuaka or godwit, come to feed, in this case on knowledge, and then leave on their journey. The name was appropriate for the kōhanga reo because like their namesakes, the tamariki come to kōhanga, feed and grow on the knowledge within, and then continue on their journey. Like the kuaka, they keep returning, bringing with them their teina, akuanei pea, a rātou mokopuna.

  • The journey
    • The journey for te whānau o Te Kōhanga Reo o Ngā Kuaka has been a practical one that continues to move and shape itself. Our journey has taken an uncharted path with no organised order or prescribed map. Rather, a layering of collective wisdom and interactions have worked as a process through which we have explored tā mātou reo me ōna tikanga through kaupapa Māori assessment. Te whānau o Te Kōhanga o Ngā Kuaka is pan-tribal and sits under the umbrella of Tainui. Th e ethos of our whānau is driven by the desire and the determination to educate and manaaki our tamariki within te ao Māori. Without realising the framework that would later emerge, and the connection to our whānau within a pan-tribal setting, we would discover how an idea can create a context with the potential to nurture the importance of whakapapa for every member within the whānau.

  • Our views on assessment
    • We began our journey with the invitation into the unknown, to participate in the Kaupapa Māori Learning and Assessment Exemplar Project. Initially we had no clear vision for a framework for our work. However, by asking ourselves a range of questions, our ideas began to gather momentum and energy, and opened unlimited possibilities. Moving between the unknown to moments of clarity, we found ourselves exploring our own understanding of assessment. We discussed current forms of assessments that staff had found useful. We wondered what our participation would look like, asking ourselves what we wanted to gain from this project, how it might support our whānau, and what it would look like in practice.

      Exploring culturally preferred assessment tools offered multiple entries from which whānau could work in terms of teaching and learning. The prior knowledge of the whānau and the knowledge of the children could be integrated so that together they were able to become a community of collective learners.

      Exploring the notion of whakapapa illuminated for us that whakapapa is far more than a connection to people through genealogy. Equally important is that children’s learning connects with their experiences, knowledge, skills, and attributes. In an assessment framework whakapapa is where past learning connects to learning in the present, which continues to grow and evolve into the future. Whakapapa is not bound by time or place. In this view, learning is life long and assessment does not necessarily focus on a single episode in the child’s life. Instead it views the child’s experiences holistically. The role of assessment within this framework is to enhance the ira tangata of the child through the lens of a philosophical and pedagogical construct that is kaupapa Māori.

      Strengthening the connection between whakapapa and assessment is the role of whanaungatanga. Te Whānau o Ngā Kuaka acknowledges that everyone in the community has a valued contribution to make to the lives of the tamariki. The community is whanaungatanga.