Te Whatu Pōkeka (Māori)

'Te Whatu Pōkeka: Kaupapa Assessment for Learning Māori: Early Childhood Exemplars' were developed to provide a resource based on a kaupapa Māori perspective and context. The focus of the resource is the assessment of Māori children in Māori early childhood settings.

Wāhanga Tuarua: 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, 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 project of his whakapapa. Children are also products of their whakapapa - they therefore bring with them the talents, understandings, and abilities of their tipuna - 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


  • These babies don't whakarongo
    • These babies don't whakarongo

      Te Hirea - 4 tau (4 years), Dujournae - 2 tau (2 years), Ariana - 2 tau, e toru marama (2 years and three months)

      I tēnei rā tonu, i pātai mai a Te Hirea mēnā ka taea e ia te āwhina i ahau ki te tīni i ngā kope ā ngā tamariki kōhungahunga, ā, ka whakaae au. I haere ngātahi ai mātou ko ngā tamariki, ko Te Hirea anō hoki ki te wāhi tīni kope. Ka noho katoa ngā tamariki, ka tatari kia tīnihia ā rātou kope. I a au e tīni ana i te kope tuatahi, ka rongo au i a Te Hirea e kōrero atu ana ki tētahi, “E noho darling. Darling, whakarongo, titiro ki a Ariana.” Ahakoa te whakapau kaha o Te Hirea ki te āta whakanoho i ngā tamariki, nā wai rā ka tohu atu a Te Hirea ki a Dujournae, me te kī, “E noho.” Tere tonu taku mutu i te tīni tuatahi, nā te mea, i te kite au e pōuri ana a Dujournae me tana kī, “Mā Whaea Estelle e mahi ināianei.” Puku kata ai ahau ki a Te Hirea e kī ana, “Whaea, kāore rawa ēnei pēpī i te whakarongo, mā Ihipera koe e āwhina apōpō.”

      Today Te Hirea asked if she could be my helper, kaiāwhina, with the younger children for their nappy changes and I agreed. The children and Te Hirea, the helper, held hands as we walked to the changing area. All the children waited for their turn to be changed. While I was changing the first child, I heard Te Hirea say “E noho darling. Whakarongo, titiro kia Ariana.” After a few more tries at getting the children to sit, Te Hirea pointed at Dujournae, and in a stern voice said, “E noho” (sit down). I finished the change and quickly stepped in because Dujournae was becoming quite unhappy saying “Whaea Estelle will take over now.” I did have a laugh to myself but laughed even more when Te Hirea put her hands on her hips and said, “Whaea, these babies don’t whakarongo. Can Ihipera help you tomorrow?

      Whanaungatanga – Ka mahia a Te Hirea i āna mahi tuakana i runga i te ngākau marie, ahakoa kāore ōna teina i te aro atu ki a ia.

      Te Hirea takes on her tuakana responsibilities with enthusiasm and authority even though her siblings aren’t obedient.


      Ngā hononga ki te tauparapara: Ways of knowing

      This exemplar focuses on a learning experience where Te Hirea’s interpretations and understandings of whanaungatanga – tuakana–teina, manaakitanga, and what the nappy changing task requires, are explored – (Mōhiotanga). Despite the difficulty experienced with the babies, Te Hirea takes on her responsibilities with enthusiasm and gusto. She displays the ability to be involved, to concentrate, and to focus on the process. Her ideas however are challenged when her attempts to manaaki the babies are met with disobedience from the babies, which then requires that she reassess her intentions (Mātauranga). Her learning involves the realisation that being the tuakana requires not only good intentions but also appropriate communication skills and behaviour management strategies (Māramatanga).

      Ngā āhuatanga o te tamaiti: Ways of being

      This exemplar highlights how Te Hirea defines her place as tuakana. She is able to acknowledge and nurture the mana of others through respecting and taking responsibility for the well-being of others and showing generosity, kindness, and caring for others. Her mauri or life force is healthy, which is evident in the way she confidently articulates to adults what she is prepared to do and not do. The image of the children is that of being active participants in their own learning, making choices, and directing their own learning and development.

      Tikanga whakaako: Ways of doing

      Whaea Estelle has an important role in providing the opportunities and the environment for Te Hirea to develop her tuakana skills with the babies. Opportunities to learn to co-operate, take on responsibility, nurture, and develop whanaungatanga relations are crucial within a kaupapa Māori environment. Concepts of whanaungatanaga such as awhi, tautoko, aroha, tiaki, and manaaki are inherent within this exemplar. The exemplar also reflects the positive attitudes adults have towards children and towards assessments of their learning. This exemplar indicates that:

      • assessment involves making visible learning that is valued within te ao Māori;

      • assessment is a vital aspect of early childhood education in that it is about articulating kaupapa and mātauranga that underpin practice;

      • assessment is something that happens during everyday practice.

      He hononga ki Te Whāriki

      Kotahitanga – Holistic development

      There are two inseparable processes. These are planning and identifying suitable strategies to stimulate, encourage, and motivate the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social well-being of the child. Supporting tuakana to help with the routines of the centre provides important learning opportunities that are encouraged and supported in this place.

      Whakamana - Empowerment

      Ko te whakatipu i te mana o te mokopuna te tino taumata hei whāinga mā tātou. Ka tautokona a Te Hirea kia eke ai ia ki tōna pūmanawatanga, kia kore ai tōna mana e takahia atu e ētahi atu.

      To whakamana or empower a child is one of the major principles for working with children. In order to uphold Te Hirea’s mana, she is supported and respected and she is given choices to help her reach her potential.

  • Tumeke George
    • Tumeke George

      George – 1 tau, e 8 marama (1 year and 8 months)

      I te tākaro a George ki tana takawairore i te taha o ōna hoa. Ka tahuri ia, kātahi ka whiu atu i tana takawairore ki tua o te kēti, ki te wāhi mō ngā pēpī.

      Ka whakamātauhia e ia te piki i te kēti. Kāore e taea e ia. Ka whakamātau anō ia ki te whakatuwhera i te kēti. Kāore anō e taea e ia. Ka whana a George i te kēti, ka tarai ia ki te ngōki i raro i te kēti. Ahakoa te aha, kāore ia i tutuki i tana whāinga. I te hiahia tonu ia i tana takawairore, kātahi ka takoto ia ki tōna puku, ka whakamahia i ōna ringaringa ki te tō i tōna tinana ki raro i te kēti.

      Āhua rua meneti i pau kātahi a George ka tae ki te wāhi mō ngā pēpī me tōna kaha menemene. Ka tīkina e ia tana takawairore, kātahi ka whiua atu ki tērā taha o te kēti, ki te wāhi tika. Ka takoto anō a George ki runga i tōna puku, ka tō anō i tōna tinana ki raro i te kēti. Ka mutu, he ōrite tōna āhua ki te tangata kātahi anō ka piki i te tihi o te maunga.

      George was playing with a toy in his area with his friends. He then turned around and threw it over the gate into the babies’ area. He tried to climb up over the gate. He tried to unlock the gate. He kicked the gate, and then tried to crawl under the gate. He wanted his toy, one way or the other. After being unsuccessful at getting the gate opened, George then lay on his stomach and pulled himself under the gate, using his arms. It took George a couple of minutes to get into the baby area but he finally did it with a big smile on his face. He picked up his toy, looked at it for a bit, then threw it back over the gate to his area. George then got back on his stomach and pulled himself back under the gate. The look on George’s face when he had retrieved his toy was as though he had just climbed a mountain.


      Ngāhononga ki te tauparapara: Ways of knowing

      George is faced with the problem of retrieving his toy. He brings his ideas and known strategies about how one opens doors (trying to unlock it and kicking the door) to the problem. However these strategies are unsuccessful (Mōhiotanga).

      He is challenged by the seemingly impossible task. However through determination and persistence he overcomes the barriers and succeeds in retrieving his toy (Mātauranga). George learns that through trying alternative strategies and pushing himself, it is possible to overcome obstacles and achieve his goals (Māramatanga).

      Ngā āhuatanga o te tamaiti: Ways of being

      This exemplar reflects a competent child whose rangatiratanga traits – determination, problem-solving skills, persistence, courage, and assertiveness – are evident. George has a positive attitude about his own abilities and is able to show that he is capable of taking responsibility for his own learning. Through his endeavours he is asserting his personal mana and energy, or mauri. George displays a great deal of persistence in achieving his goal, which results in his feeling good about his achievements. His wairua is in a state of balance as he seeks more challenges.

      Tikanga whakaako: Ways of doing

      There is no attempt by adults to interfere with George or to stop his endeavours. Rather they observe, acknowledge, and celebrate his achievements. This indicates to him that he is trusted to achieve his goal independently. This exemplar indicates that:

      • Assessment involves making visible learning that is valued within te ao Māori.

      • Assessment analyses children’s behaviour from a positive viewpoint.

      • Assessment acknowledges the child’s strengths and interests.

      • Assessment is something that happens during everyday practice.

      He hononga ki Te Whāriki

      Whakamana – Empowerment

      Ko te whakatipu i te mana o te mokopuna te tino taumata hei whainga mā tātou. E whakaatu ana tēnei tauira ehara ko ngā mahi ka mahia e ngā pakeke anake ka āwhina i te tamaiti, ka taea tonu te tautoko i a ia mēnā ka āta noho ki te kite mēnā ka taea e ia te whakatutuki i ōna wawata ko ia anake. Nā tēnei ka taea e George te whakatipu i ōna ake pūkenga.

      To whakamana or empower a child is one of the major principles for working with children. This exemplar indicates that what adults don’t do can be as important as what they do, when supporting children’s mana. George is able to achieve his goal and develop confidence in his own abilities.