Te Reo Māori in the New Zealand Curriculum (draft Māori language curriculum guidelines for schools)

Project dates: 
Mar-2004 to Oct-2007
Description of the project: 

This first-ever curriculum for the teaching and learning of Māori language was the precursor to the final version Te Aho Arataki Marau (2009). It covered 8 levels of achievement (Years 1-13) and was designed as a draft for consultation so that:

i. primary and secondary school teachers could plan and implement effective Māori language programmes in English medium schools, where the main language of instruction was English;

ii. students could experience scaffolded opportunities to learn te reo Māori; and

iii. the Ministry of Education could gather feedback from teachers, students and whānau on the effectiveness of this flexible, outcomes-based curriculum - prior to producing the final version.

My involvement: 

As the senior adviser at the Ministry of Education responsible for the implementation of the government's four year strategy around the teaching and learning of Māori language in English medium schools, my role in this particular project was to:

  • liaise with the initial writers, in the creation of a first draft of the curriculum
  • gather, and respond to, feedback from Māori language specialists on the first draft
  • establish, and facilitate, an advisory group comprising educators, linguists, curriculum designers, teacher union members, and experts in Māori language and culture
  • liaise with internal Ministry staff, to ensure alignment with the teaching of languages per se, while at the same time maintaining the integrity and 'wairua' of te reo Māori
  • work with an academic specialist in te reo Māori to write a second draft of the curriculum
  • facilitate the trialling of the second draft among a small group of teachers and advisers in 5 regions
  • incorporate the feedback from the regional trialling in schools, to create a third draft of the curriculum
  • edit the third draft
  • liaise with the publisher on layout and design, prior to the publication of the draft curriculum and its distribution to all schools
  • work with a Māori evaluation expert to organise the national trialling of the published draft curriculum (including the development of a questionnaire for stakeholders, in print and online)
  • organise the launch of the draft curriculum by Parekura Horomia MP (then Associate Minister of Education) and Joris de Bres (then Human Rights Commissioner)
  • work with a Māori communications expert to write communication briefs on behalf of the Ministry
  • contract manage the writers, Māori QA expert, publisher, advisory group members, communications specialist
  • write comprehensive milestone responses to contractors, to ensure smooth project management and transparency
  • make formal presentations to stakeholders across New Zealand
  • synthesise feedback from the national trialling, to inform the final version of the curriculum guidelines
Key skills used: 
  • understanding of curriculum development
  • knowledge of second language teaching and learning
  • relationship management e.g. writers, teacher unions, school advisers, teachers, principals, linguists, designers, publishers, Parliamentary staff, research evaluator, and internal Ministry staff
  • writing and editing e.g. curriculum content, and communication briefs
  • facilitation of diverse groups
  • information management, due to triangulated feedback on multiple versions
  • competence in Māori language and tikanga
  • project management
  • contract management

The evaluation of the draft Māori language curriculum across New Zealand was overwhelmingly positive. There was strong agreement/agreement (i.e. from 95% to 80% agreement) on every aspect of the feedback questionnaire . The external evaluator considered this to be a very high level of satisfaction.

The success of the draft Māori curriculum was attributed to the fact that:

  • It supported the planning/teaching of te reo Māori programmes in a clear, cohesive, flexible and user-friendly way
  • It set out clear expectations about intended outcomes and the progression through the levels
  • It provided a strong rationale for the teaching of Māori language in our schools
  • It made explicit the link between te reo (language) and tikanga (culture)
  • It acknowledged the role, and contribution, of the community
  • It signalled a commitment to the preservation of Māori language

Moreover, respondents' comments indicated there was much goodwill among teachers in terms of their wanting to do a quality job of Māori language instruction. Their feedback about content, presentation, and suggestions for implementation was used to inform the final version of the curriculum i.e. Te Aho Arataki Marau, published in 2009.