Posted by: waikatogifted | June 17, 2011

Māori Dimensions of Leadership and Giftedness

Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour icon.

Shane Ngatai is a very innovative, holistic educator who places enormous value on authentic learning. Overflowing with “what if…?” and “why don’t we try…?” questions, he is someone I always enjoy talking with. Shane is the principal at Rhode Street School, which was my first host school as a One Day School teacher. One of the things I have enjoyed talking to Shane about is the Māori understanding of leadership. As many of our gifted will find themselves in some form of leadership, I approached Shane to share his views.

Now that I have given Shane that very Pakeha introduction, I will share a new document that he would like to discuss with you (yes, comments please!) and let him speak for himself. Please download Tu Rangatira here. (For our overseas guests, I will loosely translate the title as “Stand as Powerful Leaders”, but there are many nuances of meaning, so Shane please comment or correct as you see fit.)

Guiding principles

Tū Rangatira is guided by four underlying principles:

Māori potential All Māori learners have unlimited potential.
Cultural advantage All Māori learners have a cultural advantage in that they are Māori.
Inherent capability All Māori learners are inherently capable of achieving success as Māori.
Mana motuhake All Māori learners have the right to live and learn as tangata whenua of Aotearoa.

These principles form the foundation to build effective teaching and quality learning for Māori learners. But it can also be reasonably argued that if we get it right for Māori then we also get it right for everyone. I am of the view after working with main stream Māori for the past 15 years that if the principles of Tu Rangatira also apply to the 80% of Māori who are in the main stream system, then we will see the unlimited potential being released. That potential is evident in many of the students I am currently responsible for as the leader of learning here at Rhode Street School.

Professor Vivianne Robinson and Dr Margie Hohepa in their Best Evidence Synthesis on Effective School  Leadership (2008) make the point that student achievement is directly related to the quality of the school leadership. If school principals understand and support how Māori learn and how important building a respectful culture based around meaningful relationships is, then the underachieving tail so prevalent with our Māori students in main stream schools will shrink. It will also support the emergence of our talented and gifted Māori who often go unrecognised in main stream settings because they are not nurtured in their world of Te Ao Māori and therefore miss many opportunities to shine as successful Māori.

Effective principals support and grow effective teachers who in turn facilitate and support quality learning. Ka Hikitia, the Ministry of Education strategy for Māori achievement  focuses on students being: present, engaged, and achieving. Tu Rangatira supports this focus by offering practical resources and ideas for school leaders to initiate their school’s vision for successful Māori learners.

It is timely for school leaders to take a long hard look in the mirror and reflect on what effective leadership looks like in their schools and to question how effective they are being in raising every student’s achievement levels, including Māori.

Tu Rangatira front cover

Tu Rangatira, a new document on Māori educational leadership.

Image copyright permission pending.Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour Link



  1. I am, glad to read that non-white people are moving to define giftedness outside of the mainstream realms.

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