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: Pākōwhai Te Kōhanga Reo

Kei te ora, kei te whakatipu te tamaiti kei waenganui i tōna ake whānau
A child lives and grows within the context of a family or a community


Twenty years ago we, as a community, as a whānau, were approached by a representative of Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust to consider establishing a kōhanga reo for our babies, our tamariki, and our mokopuna. Right from the start, this service was never perceived as being simply another early childhood service. We have always understood our kōhanga reo to be a vehicle, an opportunity for a community, a hapū, to realise our dreams and aspirations. It was those who were regarded as the leaders in our community, our parents and grandparents, who gave the OK for the kōhanga reo to be established. But it was the young and mostly new parents who were given the task of germinating the seed and then nurturing it to ensure its healthy growth and fruition. That focus on achieving the dreams and aspirations of a people in an all-encompassing, holistic way has remained the driving force of our whānau at Pākōwhai Te Kōhanga Reo.

  • The journey
    • The journey forward from twenty years ago has been achieved by allowing the true richness of whānau to be a living, breathing reality on a twenty-four-hour, seven-days-a-week basis. This journey has embraced the past, taken lessons from it and brought these lessons into the day-to-day life of not only the kōhanga reo, but also of the whānau. To achieve this we have taken the time and made the effort to reflect continuously on the good times and on the bad, on our successes and on our failures.

      It is important to understand what whānau is really about when one is considering the gravity and the huge importance of our journey. For many the harakeke, the flax bush, has become the symbol of the whānau. In the midst of the harakeke is the rito, or baby shoot, the future of the flax bush. This rito is surrounded by a mass of individual yet strongly connected rau or flax leaves. The rito is nurtured and protected by the surrounding leaves as the whānau nurtures and protects its young. Every individual within a whānau has a contribution to make to the well-being of the whole.

      Whānau is also a place where the concept of whāngai is realised. Whāngai is about nourishment and nurturing. Within the whānau, the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual welfare of the individual is nurtured, and with this nurturing the well-being of the whānau is ensured. The individual is nurtured and nourished according to their perceived and understood needs. The kaiwhāngai, or those who provide the nurturing, endeavour to be responsive to these recognised needs.

  • Our views about assessment
    • During our journey we realised that a key part of the process included a focus on reflection, identifying needs that were evident and not so evident. Through this we learnt that we were in fact practitioners of assessment. With this insight, we as a whānau became involved with the Kei Tua o te Pae: Assessment for Learning Early Childhood Exemplars Project, and then we developed an in-depth involvement with the Kaupapa Māori Learning and Assessment Exemplar Project. We draw on our strengths and learning to continue to build assessment processes that will help us to better meet the needs of our tamariki and mokopuna. We have slowly developed and allowed ourselves to evolve our unique assessment practice.

      At the start of our journey with the kaupapa Māori assessment project, we thought that the workload of assessing and recording children’s mahi would be more of a chore and added work on top of our already busy daily workload. However once we were under way with the project our whakaaro changed.

      A primary caregiver is assigned to each tamaiti in our kōhanga reo. This caregiver is the first point of contact for mātua or whānau who want to know anything about their child when they are here at kōhanga reo. The child’s mahi and learning are recorded in their profile book. Through this recording, we are the eyes and ears for the parents and the whānau.

      After many years of documenting children’s profiles, kaimahi recognise their own growth and learning about assessment, and about the process of documenting information about assessment. The profile books of our tamariki have become, therefore, an assessment tool for our learning as adults.

      We continue to strive to provide our tamariki and our mokopuna with the best we can offer. Our practice and our assessment methodology therefore do not only represent our aspirations for our tamariki. They are also expressions of our growing understanding of ourselves and of our tamariki, and of the process of ako, or mutual learning and growth.

      This has been a journey of learning, growth, and development for us all and it continues to be a journey that encompasses not only what happens on a day-to-day basis at kōhanga, but also our lives and experiences in the wider community.


  • Time to clean up!
    • Time to clean up!

      He pārekareka ki a Maia te noho hei kaiāwhina ki tōna Whaea Paku i a ia e whakapaipai ana i te kōhanga. I tētahi rā, he whiore rēme ngā kai, ā, i te wā e kai ana te whānau, ka whakaaro a Maia ki te haere ki te tiro he aha ngā mahi a Whaea Paku. I tana putanga atu i te kōhanga, ka kite ia i a Whaea Paku e tahitahi ana i te papa. Ka pātai atu ia, “Kei te aha koe, Whaea?” Ka whakautu a Whaea Paku, “Kei te whakapaipai au i te kōhanga. Ā kō ake nei tāua ka hoki atu ki te kāinga.” Ka kī atu anō a Maia, “E matatau ana ahau ki tēnā momo mahi!”

      Ka hoatu a Whaea Paku i te purūma nui, te purūma iti me te hāpara ki a Maia hei kohikohi i ngā para. Ka tahitahi a Maia i raro i ngā whāriki, pērā i a Whaea Paku. Ka āta haere a Maia kia papai rawa atu tāna mahi. Ka oti, ka pātai atu anō ki a Whaea Paku, “Kua mutu taku mahi. Me aha au i nāianei?” Ka mihi a Whaea Paku ki a ia mō tāna pukumahi, ka kihi anō hoki i a ia. Ka pātai atu a Whaea Paku ki a Maia mēnā e hiahia ana ia ki te muku i te tēpu me ngā peihana. Ka whakaae noa a Maia, ka tīkina te pātara, kātahi ka haere ki te mahi i āna mahi. Kei runga noa ia ki te mahi!

      Maia enjoys helping his Aunty Paku to clean the kōhanga. Today we had lambs’ tails to eat and while everyone was having a kai, Maia decided to go and see what his aunty was doing. As he walked into the kōhanga he watched her sweeping the floor and asked, “What you doing?”

      His aunty replied, “I’m cleaning the kōhanga because it’s nearly time to go home.”

      Maia then said, “I know how do that!” and so his aunty gave him the broom.

      Maia used both the big broom and the hand shovel and broom to pick up all of the rubbish. He even made sure to sweep under the mats as he had previously watched his aunty doing this. Maia took his time making sure that the job was done properly and when he had finished he asked his aunty, “What am I doing next?”

      His aunty gave him a big kiss and thanked him for doing a terrific job and then she asked him if he wanted to spray and wipe the tables and hand basins. Maia simply replied, “Yeap!”, held out his hand for the bottle, and quietly went about spraying the tables and hand basins.

      “You are the bomb, my boy.”


      Ngā hononga ki te tauparapara: Ways of knowing

      The focus of this exemplar is Maia’s engagement with a task that he hadn’t demonstrated any prior knowledge of or interest in. He knows that he is capable of acquiring new skills (Mōhiotanga) and as he persists he comes to understand how to use the tools needed to carry out the task (Mātauranga). By remembering and imitating, Maia is able to complete the task to his satisfaction (Māramatanga). This is evident by his being open for the next challenge when he enquires “What doing next?”

      Ngā āhuatanga o te tamaiti: Ways of being

      Maia has a positive attitude about his own special strengths and is able to display that he is capable of taking responsibility for his own learning. By his willingness to be involved in the clean-up Maia is asserting his personal mana and mauri or energy. He displays a high level of persistence during this activity, 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

      This exemplar captures an important time in Maia’s life when he is willing to try new things. Because the kaiako (Aunty Pare) notices, recognises, and responds to this situation, Maia is able to contribute and participate in the daily activity of the kōhanga reo. This learning is recognised and valued by the kaiako. The kaiako takes a “hands-off” approach to Maia’s work, which shows that although this is the first time Maia has done this job, she trusts that he can do the mahi. Positive feedback from Aunty Paku serves to boost his self-image and mana. This exemplar indicates that:

      • Assessment is based upon the child’s way of seeing and knowing the world and his way of being and interacting in the world.
      • Assessment is something that happens during everyday practice.
      • Assessment is about children’s learning within a Māori learning context.
      • Assessment analyses children’s behaviour from a positive viewpoint.
      • Assessment builds on the child’s strengths and interests.

      He hononga ki Te Whāriki

      Whakamana - Empowerment

      Ko te whakatipu i te mana o te mokopuna te tino taumata hei whainga mā tātou. Nā tēnei ka taea a Maia te whakatipu i ōna ake pūkenga.

      To whakamana or empower a child is one of the major principles for working with children. In order to uphold Maia’s mana, he is supported, respected and given choices to allow him to reach his potential.

  • Kei te hikoi mātou ki te Whare Karakia!
    • Kei te hikoi mātou ki te Whare Karakia!

      He maha ngā wā ka hīkoikoi mātou ki te pā, ā, ko tētahi wāhi papai rawa atu ko tō mātou whare karakia. Ka whāki atu a Whaea Kelly-Anne rāua ko Whaea Paku ki ngā tamariki kia maumahara kāre e pai te hoihoi ki roto i te whare karakia. Ko ngā mahi e whakaaetia ana e rāua, ko te waiata me te wānanga noa iho. Ka kōrero ngā tama e rua, a Beau rāua ko Edward mō te whakaahua o Ihu Karaiti i roto i te matapihi kei mua i te whare karakia.

      Ko tā Edward, “He whakaahua kei runga rā mō te Lord of the Rings, nē Whaea Paku” Ka tohu atu a Edward, ka tahuri ia ki a Beau ki te kimi whakautu. Ko tā Beau, “E hē Edward, ko pēpī Ihu Karaiti kē tērā.” Ka tohu atu a Beau ki te matapihi me te urungi i a Edward ka kī, “Arā Edward, ko pēpī Ihu Karaiti!” Kātahi a Edward ka whakahoki, “Kāhore! Ko ia rā te tangata mai Lord of the Rings, he karauna kei tāna upoko. Anā! Titiro Beau.”

      Ka tohu atu a Edward ki te whakaahua. Ka whakapau kaha a Beau ki te whakamāhio tika atu ki a Edward ko te tangata kei roto i te whakaahua ko Ihu Karaiti kā. Ka tautohe rāua, ka tohu atu ki ngā wāhanga rerekā o te whakaahua hei whakakiko i ā rāua ake kārero. Ka mutu, ka tahuri ki te kaiako me te kā kua riro māna hei whakatau ko wai kei te tika, ā, ko wai kei te hā. Ka kā atu te kaiako, ko Beau i te tika. Heoi anā, ka āta whakamārama atu ia ki a Edward, ehara i te mea i hā katoa āna kārero, nā te mea, he ārite te whakaahua

      o Ihu Karaiti ki tātahi o ngā tangata i roto i Lord of the Rings. Ka harikoa rāua ki tānā whakatau. Ka haere tonu ngā kārero, ā, ka kā a Beau ka haere ia ki te whare karakia i te taha o tāna whānau. Ka kā atu hoki a Edward i hokona atu e tāna Whaea i te whakaaturanga Lord of the Rings hei mātakitaki māna.

      We often go on hikoi around our marae and one of our favourite places is our whare karakia. Whaea Kelly-Anne and Whaea Paku remind the tamariki not to make too much noise or run around inside the whare karakia, but they allow them to kōrero and sing waiata while sitting inside.

      Beau and Edward have a kōrero about the picture of Jesus on the window at the front of the whare karakia.

      Edward: “There’s a picture of the lord of the rings up there, Whaea Paku.” Edward points to it and then all the boys look at me and wait for my response.

      Beau: “No, Edward, that’s baby Jesus,” and he points to the window. Beau puts his hand on Edward’s head to steer it towards the picture, points, and says, “See, Edward, there’s Jesus.”

      Edward: “No, that’s the man on The Lord of the Rings ‘cause he’s got a crown on his head, see, Beau.” Edward points at the picture as well. Beau is trying his hardest to convince Edward that it’s a picture of Jesus and both boys are pointing at different parts of the picture to back up their kōrero.

      Both boys turn to me and ask me to decide who is right and who is wrong. I explain to them that Beau is right. However I let Edward know that his kōrero wasn’t completely wrong because the picture of Jesus does look like one of the characters from the movie The Lord of the Rings. Both Beau and Edward are quite happy to accept my kōrero and then they carry on talking about how Beau goes to church with his whānau and how Edward’s mum has bought him The Lord of the Rings movie to watch.


      Ngā hononga ki te tauparapara: Ways of knowing

      Visiting the whare karakia is something the kōhanga reo look forward to. The children know that this place has a spiritual significance to the wider community (Mōhiotanga) and during this visit the topic of baby Jesus and a man from The Lord of the Rings being the same person is a point of intense discussion between Beau and Edward. As the conversation progresses they are able to exchange ideas and offer different perspectives in an effort to seek compromise (Mātauranga). Both children concede and turn to the kaimahi for support. She is able to offer a perspective that provides support for both Beau’s and Edward’s ideas (Māramatanga). From this conversation both boys are able to acquire new learning, new knowledge, and new insights.

      Ngā āhuatanga o te tamaiti: Ways of being

      Both children are portrayed as having mana in this exemplar. This is evident in the confidence they show in sharing their perspectives. They are also portrayed as having mauri, which is revealed through their resilience and their persistence in negotiating their way through meaning. Both boys are left feeling good when the kaimahi adds to the discussion giving support to both their ideas. This allows their mana, mauri, and wairua to be kept intact.

      Tikanga whakaako: Ways of doing

      The adult’s role is critical in this exemplar. Whaea Paku, as a mediator in the conversation, is able to support both Beau’s and Edward’s perspectives. She is able to resolve this difference of opinion in a peaceful manner. This assessment recognises and acknowledges the importance of relationships or whanaungatanga in providing children with security, strength, and connections with the wider world and in enhancing the mana of both children. This exemplar indicates that:

      • Assessment builds on children’s strengths and interests;
      • Assessment facilitates ongoing learning for children;
      • Assessment strengthens children’s sense of being Māori in the world.

      He hononga ki Te Whāriki

      Kotahitanga - Holistic development

      E rua ngā tukanga ki tēnei wāhanga. Ko te haerenga o ngā tamariki ki te whare karakia, ā, ko te whakatakoto me te tāutu i ātahi rautaki hei whakatātina, hei whakahihiri, ā, hei whakaongaonga ā-tinana, ā-wairua, ā-hinengaro anā hoki i ngā mokopuna. Kāore he wehewehenga, kāore he aukatinga. E whakaatu ana tēnei tauira ngā mahi kua whakatauhia mā te pakeke, arā, te whakatenatena me te tautoko i te tamaiti ki te whakanui i ētahi atu, i a ia anō.

      There are two inseparable processes shown in this exemplar. These are planning to visit the whare karakia and identifying suitable strategies to stimulate, encourage, and motivate the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social well-being of the child. This exemplar identifies the adult’s role as being that of encouraging and promoting respect of self and others.