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.

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Wāhanga Tuarua: Ngā Kākano o te Kaihanga


Ngā Kākano o te Kaihanga is a Christian, kaupapa Māori centre located in Titirangi, West Auckland. There are 18 children and 5 full-time and part-time staff.

  • The journey
    • In early 2002 we participated in the National Early Childhood Learning and Assessment project (NECLA). In 2003 we were approached to work on the Kaupapa Māori Learning and Assessment Exemplar Project (KMLAE). We felt that the KMLAE project seemed to really fit our philosophy. It challenged us to see things through a Māori lens. This supported us to see children in a different light and challenged us to ask, “What are we on about? What is our philosophy? Why are we doing it? Have we achieved our purpose? Where is the proof?”

      Over time, our view of the child changed. We began to see the fern frond as a symbol for the child. The child, like the pikopiko, is initially tightly wound. Every branch of the pikopiko is part of the child’s character and disposition. The child unfolds as s/he is nurtured, just as the pikopiko unfurls with growth. Just as the pikopiko is surrounded by the outer fronds of the fern, as the child unfolds we see her/him, not in isolation, but surrounded by the outer branches of whānau, community, whakapapa, and whakawhanaungatanga. This surrounding support needs to be particularly strong around some families.

      Despite a number of staff changes and major developments, we have continued to refine our thinking and practices about teaching, learning, and assessment. Our enthusiasm for the project has grown as our confidence in our abilities to utilise assessment to support children’s learning has developed.

  • Issues emerging from our work
    • Whānau/whanaungatanga – The whānau is the key to our framework development.

      Whānau/child assessment – The child is part of the whānau and the whānau is part of the child. One cannot be separated from the other. The child learns within the context of whānau, which is a real-life context. It is not a socially contrived environment such as the early childhood service. Learning occurs first in the whānau and it is the whānau that determines the learning that is valued. It does this sometimes in association with the early childhood centre, and sometimes not.

      Assessment must acknowledge and make visible the relationship between whānau and child. Whānau do not merely contribute to the assessment of their children. They are central to it. We are now focusing on how this relationship can be reflected in practice in our assessment processes. This involves ongoing hui with whānau to wānanga what this means for whānau and educators.

      Leadership and commitment – An important factor in the success of this centre has been the team’s commitment to providing the best possible learning opportunities for our children. Openness to new ideas and practices, and upskilling educators and whānau have been crucial to the development of our assessment understandings. Strong consistent leadership not only guides and supports the growth and development of the educators, but is crucial in maintaining enthusiasm and commitment for the project.

      Assessment and the transition to school – The primary school new entrant class has adopted the assessment model developed by Ngā Kakano o te Kaihanga and has continued to map children’s learning journeys as they transition from the centre to the school. This two-way passage of information has provided important feedback to the centre on the effectiveness of our assessment processes in capturing and extending children’s learning. Kaimahi feel a sense of pride that our work is being acknowledged and is useful and meaningful in the primary school context.

      Te reo – Participating in the project has supported the reo development of educators. We began with kaimahi writing assessments in English and accessing the support of fluent speakers in the centre to translate into Māori. Over time kaimahi were encouraged to attempt to translate the stories themselves before accessing the support of others. Some kaimahi are now able to write assessments in Māori, accessing support from fluent speakers only when required. A marked improvement in te reo has occurred over a period of time.

      Te pītau o te pikopiko – Te pītau o te pikopiko – We are now working on deepening our understandings of our framework, “te pītau o te pikopiko”, the “frond of the fern”. We feel very confident that this framework will provide us with a basis for our evolving ideas on teaching, learning, and assessment in a kaupapa Māori context. There is a growing sense of confidence in our abilities and understandings, and in the validity of our framework.

      Mana Atua – our god/love

      Rangimārie – peacefulness/overall well-being

      Ohaohanga – generosity

      Ngākau Māhaki – soft natured

      Aroha – love

      Whakaute – respect

      Mana whenua – our place

      Māia – confidence/competence

      Rangimārie – peacefulness/overall well-being

      Kawenga – taking responsibility

      Pukumahi – hardworking/diligence

      Arahina – leadership

      Mana tangata – our character

      Mahi tahi – co-operation/group endeavour

      Manaakitanga – caring/nurturing/loving

      Hiringa – determination/perseverance/persistence

      Māia – confidence/competence

      Manawaroa – patience

      Ngākau Pāpaku – humility

      Mana reo – our communication

      Whanaungatanga – relationships/connectedness

      Whakahoahoa – friendliness

      Mana ao tūroa – our learning

      Haututū – exploring/seeking

      Auahatanga – creativity

      Whakakata – humour


  • E kore e hekeheke te kākano rangatira 1
    • E kore e hekeheke te kākano rangatira 1

      Fatai - Aroha, 12 Mahuru

      He kōtiro tino māia a Fatai. Mēnā e hiahia ana ia i tētahi mea, kāore ia e nohopuku kia ea rā anō ōna wawata. I tērā wiki, i te hiahia ia ki te piki i te arawhata, ka heke i te hekeheke pērā i ngā tamariki pakeke. Engari, he poto rawa ōna waewae, ā, kāore e taea e ia te piki i te arawhata, nā te mea, tata tonu ia ka whara. Heoi anō, ka whai huarahi atu anō a Fatai mā te āta piki i te arawhata pūngāwerewere, ā, he tata ake tēnei arawhata ki te papa. Kātahi te ihumanea, ko ia! Kei te whakaaro a Fatai me pēhea tōna whakamataara i ōna ake hiahia, kāore ia i te noho puku ki te auē. He pai te kite i a ia e whakaako ana i ētahi pūkenga hōu.

      Fatai is a very determined young girl. If she wants something, she won’t stop till she’s got it. For example, last week all she wanted to do was to climb up the ladder the other children were climbing, and go down the slide. However her little legs couldn’t reach past the second step, and although it seemed hopeless she continued trying till Whaea Charlaine eventually had to pull her away as she was going to hurt herself. Nevertheless she carried on finding another way to get up onto the fort, via the spider ladder, which is lower to the ground and which doesn’t go straight up but gradually ascends. It was ingenious! I could not have thought of a better way myself. Fatai is now starting to think more and problem-solve, rather than standing there screaming about something she can’t do. It’s great to watch her developing. Awesome Fatai!!!


      Ngāhononga ki te tauparapara: Ways of knowing

      Fatai has an understanding about how to climb and she has confidence in her physical ability to attempt the climbing task. She has a strong desire to climb to the top of the fort. However her attempts to climb on the big ladder do not succeed (Mōhiotanga). Fatai has potential and is open to possibilities. She is faced with the problem of not being physically big enough to reach the steps. Her thinking is challenged as she searches for solutions to the problem (Mātauranga). Fatai gains understandings about how she can achieve her goal by thinking, and through utilising alternative strategies. She learns that persistence and determination can achieve the desired goals (Mōhiotanga).

      Ngā āhuatanga o te tamaiti: Ways of being

      This exemplar reflects the image of the child as a “rangatira mōāpōpō”, exhibiting rangatira characteristics such as problem-solving skills, persistence, industriousness, courage, confidence, assertiveness, risk-taking, determination, and strength of character. Fatai’s mana is evident in her single-minded determination to achieve her goal. Mauri is also revealed in her resilience and persistence.

      Tikanga whakaako: Ways of doing

      The adult acknowledges and celebrates Fatai’s strength of character, persistence, confidence, and depth of thinking. While taking safety considerations into account, she is able to support Fatai achieving her goal and to marvel at her achievement. Adults plan further activities to extend Fatai’s learning, skills, and abilities. The environment and equipment provide alternative paths allowing Fatai to achieve her goal. Fatai’s mana, mauri, and wairua are kept intact through the appropriate actions of adults.

      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 ake tēnei tauira, ehara ko ngā mahi ka mahia e ngā pakeke anake ka āwhina ki te tautoko i te mana o te tamaiti, engari ka taea tonu te akiaki i a ia ki te kimi he huarahi ko ia anake.

      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. Fatai is able to choose other ways to achieve her goal.

  • E kore e hekeheke te kākano rangatira 2
    • E kore e hekeheke te kākano rangatira 2

      Zeo – Rebecca, 4 Haratua

      Mō ngā marama e ono kua kite au e tino rata ana a Zeo ki ngā hōiho. Ka kitea nuitia tēnei i roto i ngā mahi tākaro. I ngā wā o te moko, ka tākaro a Zeo rāua ko Cruz ki ngā poro hanga, ā, ko te mahi a Cruz he tuki i ngā poro hanga whare ki te hōiho. Kāre a Zeo i rata ki ngā mahi a Cruz, ā, ka whakatenatena ia kia tākaro ngātahi rāua. I te hiahia a Zeo i te hōiho i a Cruz ka kōrero ki atu ia, “Me tohatoha koe Cruz, ka whāki atu au ki a Whaea.” Ka kore e aro i a Cruz.

      Ka mutu, ka mahi ngātahi ia me Cruz ki te āwhina i a ia ki te hanga whare auaha, he taiapa me ētahi huarahi anō hoki ki ōna poro hanga. Nā tōna whakatenatena, me tōna ngākau māia ka whiwhi i a Zeo te hōiho.

      For the past six months I’ve noticed Zeo’s fascination with horses. This is evident in all areas of play that she is involved in. During free playtime both Zeo and Cruz were caught up with block play. Cruz was keener on knocking down others’ buildings. Zeo noticed this and wasn’t happy because he was using the horse, so she encouraged him to do something they could both enjoy together. Zeo wanted the horse that Cruz had. She had made a few attempts at talking him into giving her the horse. “You know you have to share, Cruz.” “I’ll tell Whaea.” Cruz, however, was adamant that he wasn’t parting with it.

      Again Zeo made more attempts and suggested a few ideas hoping to persuade him, but with no luck. In the end she tried something different, giving words of encouragement, using praising words and helping him to be a little more creative with his building. This worked and Zeo now had the horse. Together they used blocks to make stables for horses and roads to get to the stable. Zeo’s plan had worked. Both tamariki were now exploring their play together, laughing and having fun. Zeo not only guided Cruz, but others as well.

      What learning took place?

      Reciprocity “awhi tētahi ki tētahi” – building a relationship – exploring play together, laughing and having fun.

      What next?

      Encourage positive talking among all the children.

      Have Zeo act as a role model a little more often.

      Provide stimulating activities that help tamariki be more creative.


      Ngāhononga ki te tauparapara: Ways of knowing

      Zeo is faced with the problem of how to get the horse from Cruz. She uses her negotiating and problem-solving skills to obtain the horse and despite initially failing, she persists and finally achieves her goal (Mōhiotanga). She is challenged when her strategies to obtain the horse fail and Cruz refuses to give it up. She works through a number of strategies that do eventually result in her gaining the horse (Mātauranga). Zeo learns that by working together, everyone can benefit. Although her initial goal was the horse she was able to interact, have fun, and enjoy the play with others (Māramatanga).

      Ngā āhuatanga o te tamaiti: Ways of being

      This exemplar describes a competent child who displays determination, problem-solving skills, persistence, and assertiveness. Her mauri or life force is healthy which is evident in the way she actively seeks solutions to the challenge she faces. The child portrayed in this exemplar demonstrates her mana and her mauri.

      Tikanga whakaako: Ways of doing

      Adults observe the children’s interactions, acknowledging and celebrating their achievements. By not stepping in and solving their problems for them, the adults indicate that they are confident the children are able to take responsibility for challenges and for their own learning. This exemplar indicates that:

      • Assessment is based on the child’s way of seeing and knowing the world and on her way of being and interacting in that world.
      • Assessment is something that happens during everyday practice.
      • Assessment is about children’s learning within a Māori learning context.
      • Assessment analyses the child’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. E whakaatu ake tēnei tauira, ehara ko ngā mahi ka mahia e ngā pakeke anake ka āwhina ki te tautoko i te mana o te tamaiti, engari ka taea tonu te akiaki i a ia ki te kimi he huarahi ko ia anake. Nā tēnei, ka taea e Zeo te whakatipu i ōna ake pūkenga ki te whakatutuki i tōna wero.

      To whakamana or empower a child is one of the major principles of 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. Zeo is able to use strategies to achieve her goal.

  • Kiritopa escapes
    • Kiritopa escapes

      Kiritopa – Aroha, 12 Hereturikōkā

      E rapu ana a Kiritopa i ētahi huarahi hōu hei hōpara i tōna ao. I tērā wiki i tarai ia ki te heke i te hekeheke mā runga i tētahi tōneke. I tēnei wiki kua whai mōhiotanga ia ki te whakatuwhera i te kūaha o te rūma mō ngā kōhungahunga. Tuatahi, ka pana ia i te hōiho pīoioi ki mua i te kūaha, ka tū ia ki runga i te hōiho, ā, ka toro atu ki te whakatuwhera i te kūaha! Māmā noa iho ki a ia. E kore e mutu tōku whaiwhai i a ia. Tino koi hoki te hinengaro o Kiritopa. I ngā wā katoa kei te kimi mahi ia hei whakaongaonga i tōna rā.

      Kiritopa is always finding new and innovative ways to explore his environment. Last week he was trying to slide down the slide on a little trolley, but this week he has found a way to escape the under-twos’ room by pushing the rocking horse up to the door, standing on it, and pulling the handle. As simple as that, and he’s out! This boy really keeps me on my toes. His mind is constantly ticking over trying to think of ways to better enjoy his surroundings. He is a very active boy.

      What learning took place?

      Haututū – Problem-solving – Exploration. Taking what he has and using it to achieve what he wants.

      What next?

      Setting up a challenging environment for Kiritopa, and letting him explore the outdoor area more.


      Ngāhononga ki te tauparapara: Ways of knowing

      Kiritopa is faced with the problem of how to escape the baby room. He understands how to use equipment in diverse ways, including using it as a means to climb. He is also confident about his physical abilities (Mōhiotanga). The closed door that acts as a barrier to his achieving his goal of exiting the baby room, challenges Kiritopa. The situation requires Kiritopa to strategise about how he might achieve his goal. He uses his understandings in a new way, using the tool available to him, the rocking horse (Mātauranga).He learns that he can achieve his goal through problem-solving and determination. Now he is open to the next challenge (Māramatanga).

      Ngā āhuatanga o te tamaiti: Ways of being

      Kiritopa is portrayed in this exemplar as having mana, evident in his having the confidence to try new strategies, and mauri, which is demonstrated in his persistence. Kiritopa displays the rangatira traits and strengths inherited from his ancestors – determination, industriousness, risk-taking, problem-solving skills and lateral thinking.

      Tikanga whakaako: Ways of doing

      The environment enables Kiritopa to achieve his goal. He is not restricted from moving

      equipment. Rather the adults acknowledge the power of the child in his ability to plan

      how to reach his goal. The kaiako acknowledges that it is not always easy to keep up with Kiritopa and that “staying on one’s toes” is important for teachers. This exemplar indicates that:

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

      He hononga ki Te Whāriki

      Kotahitanga - Holistic development

      E rua ngā tukanga ki tēnei wāhanga. Ko te whakatakoto me te tāutu i ētahi rautaki hei whakatītina, hei whakahihiri, ā, hei whakaongaonga, ā-tinana, ā-wairua, ā-hinengaro anō hoki i ngā mokopuna. Kāore he wehewehenga, kāore he aukatinga. Kei a Kiritopa ngā rawa katoa hei whakatutuki i ōna wawata.

      There are two inseparable processes. Prior planning, and identifying suitable strategies to stimulate, encourage, and motivate the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social well-being of the child. Kiritopa has resources available to him to enable him to achieve his goals.