Actively engage in respectful working relationships with Māori learners, whānau, hapū, iwi and the Māori community to enhance Māori learners’ achievement.

  • Check what your organisation has done to collaboratively design courses and educational environments with mana whenua (the territorial rights that Māori have over their land). If they haven’t done anything, you could suggest that this type of working relationship is something important that they should do.
  • Set dates for ongoing sessions with learners’ and their whānau to keep them updated and to give them a chance to give you feedback. Ask them what you could do to better support learners.
  • Learn from your students.
    • Give your class opportunities to share their ideas, instead of you just providing them with content.
    • Your Māori learners will bring rich knowledge - make sure you value their contributions by thanking them and expanding on their points. This will make them feel valued and encourage them to share their perspectives.


Allow time for whakawhanaungatanga (the process of establishing meaningful relationships), with a focus on whānau (family) and whakapapa (genealogy and link to the land) – creating these connections can have a positive effect on all learners’ sense of community.

  • Ask questions to the class like,
    • “Where are you calling in from today?” (either who’s home learners are at or what town they’re in) or,
    • “What’s a body of water that’s special to you and why?”

All learners can answer these questions, but they’ll make Māori learners feel more comfortable as you are exploring aspects of their culture that’re important to them. It will allow you to create connections over special places.

  • When doing this, recognise that some places that are special for your non-Māori learners may be places of pain for Māori learners due to Aotearoa’s colonial history.
    • If you see Māori learners getting uncomfortable over a certain place, take a mental note and learn why your learners feel this way. You could do your own research or set some time aside to have a one-on-one with a learner to allow them to tell you their story.
    • Don’t shy away from uncomfortable moments in our history – it reinforces inequities and places a burden on Māori to ‘deal’ with their hurt so other cultures feel comfortable.


Normalise te reo Māori in everyday learning

  • Pronounce te reo correctly, such as learners’ names, place names, mountain, rivers and lakes. To build you te reo vocabulary, try Kupu, an app that uses your phone camera to instantly translate objects into te reo. There is also the Māori dictionary if you want to look up a word, and Air New Zealand’s app Kia Rere that provides you with a range of commonly used te reo words and phrases.
  • Use te reo greetings and sign offs in class and emails. Use them with all learners – the more you use te reo the more comfortable you will be. Check out this guide for a range of greetings and sign offs.


Work towards a culturally responsive classroom

  • Create a pepeha and use it at the start of a new course to introduce yourself. A pepeha tells others where and who you connect with, allowing you to form connections over shared places and people. Pepeha is a handy website that creates your pepeha for you, and has recordings to help you with your te reo pronunciation.
  • Start and end your classes with a karakia. Karakia are prayers or incantations, usually used to produce good outcomes and are an important part of Māori culture. They can unite your learners and begin classes in a positive way.
    • Find a karakia that’s right for you and your class. Have a look at Otago University and Te Puni Kōkiri for some karakia.
    • Learn and say it yourself or invite someone who you know will be comfortable to say it.


Mix up your teaching methods

  • Don’t just stick to a traditional lecture-style format. Learners often enjoy more collaborative learning environments. Cater to all learners needs by having interactive lessons and group discussions. By doing this, you are demonstrating that you’re committed to helping all learners succeed.


Further educate yourself with the below excellent resources

We have a professional development team [who] help teachers understand Māori values in the classroom, and there’s a whole process behind the teaching and learning techniques… some of the values are whanaungatanga [and] manaakitanga.


Related tips and tricks

Check out our tips and tricks on how to create culturally inclusive classrooms.