Restarting Te Kotahitanga (Te Hurihanganui)

Te Hurihanganui is a Wellbeing Budget 2019 initiative. It supports educational achievement for Māori learners by testing out what works to address cultural bias and racism in the education system.


The education system has underserved Māori learners for a long time. A number of factors contribute to this underperformance, many of these stemming from the racism and bias inherent in our system. Other factors include negative bias in teacher judgements, low expectations of ākonga Māori, devaluing mātauranga Māori and te ao Māori, and poor knowledge of and access to te reo Māori.

Racism and bias

This evidence was supported by the feedback we received through the Education Conversation | Kōrero Mātauranga. We received consistent feedback from ākonga Māori and their whānau that they continue to experience racism and bias in schools, and the negative impact this was having on their ability to achieve. Addressing the racism in the education system is critical to improving education outcomes for all learners.

“There is institutional racism where Māori are not expected to achieve and are treated as dumb”

“We still have a white way of teaching… the locale where the school is situated is racist. Teachers don’t want to change and can’t be bothered, and don’t want to make it more relevant for Māori kids”

“Māori students are often thought of as good enough if they meet achievement criteria, they aren’t expected to excel”

“The teachers all think I’ll fail and do real badly cos I’m Māori and I feel like they only ever show me how to get to achieved”

Education Conversation | Kōrero Mātauranga(external link)

Government commitment

In response, the Government made a specific commitment to improve education outcomes for Māori learners through restarting Te Kotahitanga – an initiative which originally ran in selected schools from 2000s to 2015.

The design process

In 2018 the Ministry worked with a team of sector experts (Mātanga) to consider what a new version of Te Kotahitanga might look like. Through this work, the Mātanga decided to develop a new approach based on evidence and research about what works for Māori learners and their whānau. The result was Te Hurihanganui - a Blueprint for transformative system shift. 

Te Hurihanganui

Te Hurihanganui is based on 6 key design principles:

  • Te Ao Māori – valuing Māori knowledge
  • Tino Rangatiratanga – acknowledging and supporting Māori agency and authority
  • Whanaungatanga – supporting authentic relationships
  • Te Ira Tangata – building critical awareness of privilege and power
  • Mana Ōrite – equal relationships and mana
  • Te Hāngaitanga – collective responsibility for success

Te Hurihanganui isn't just for schools. It acknowledges that parents, whānau, hapū, iwi and communities are critical in supporting Māori learner success. Te Hurihanganui will work with schools and communities at the same time to help them build powerful partnerships to support learner outcomes.

Implementing and evaluating Te Hurihanganui

The Wellbeing Budget (2019) has invested $42 million over 3 years to implement and evaluate Te Hurihanganui. We expect this will involve up to 40 education providers in 6 communities nationwide. We will work with these communities to implement and evaluate core elements of the change. Over that time we will also be evaluating both the programme and the way we implement it to ensure that insights and learnings can be built into the broader Education Work Programme of work.

We will :

  • test interventions that support education providers to understand the ways in which teaching and learning are culturally situated activities
  • support parents and whānau to develop critical consciousness and be partners in their children’s education
  • increase access to resources that reflect both te ao Māori and te ao Pākeha perspectives.

Mātanga members

Professor Mere Berryman (Chair)
Wally Penetito
Jim Peters
Daniel Murfitt
Dr Roberta Hunter
Lesley Rāmeka
Therese Ford
Te Waipounamu Teinakore
Hūrae White
Whetū Cormick





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