Part 1: Introduction

Education for Māori: Implementing Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success.

In this Part, we explain:

Our programme of audits on education for Māori

This performance audit is the first in a programme of audits during the next four to five years considering the overarching question:

How well does the education system currently support Māori students to achieve their full potential and contribute to the future prosperity of New Zealand?

This question and the rationale for our work were outlined in our report, Education for Māori: Context for our proposed audit work until 2017 (the context report), published in August 2012.1 In the context report, we noted that:

New Zealand's future prosperity is inextricably linked with the achievement of [Māori] students. In our view, it is important that the education system enables and supports all children, so they achieve as highly as they can. It is in the interests of all New Zealanders that young Māori thrive academically, socially, and culturally.

The context report also proposed several topics for the programme of performance audits, which we arrived at after discussion with a Māori Advisory and Reference Group (the Advisory Group). We said in the context report that our first topic would focus on the implementation and effect of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success:The Māori Education Strategy 2008-2012 (Ka Hikitia).

Our focus and rationale for the scope of this audit

The audit question for this first audit is:

Ka Hikitia is the educational strategy for supporting young Māori to thrive academically, socially, and culturally for New Zealand's future: Are there proper processes and practices in schools and other educational agencies to support that strategy?

Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success

The Government introduced Ka Hikitia in 2008, recognising the need to improve achievement outcomes for Māori students. The Ministry of Education (the Ministry) notes that the overarching strategic intent of Ka Hikitia is "Māori enjoying educational success as Māori".2

Figure 1 shows Ka Hikitia's overall aim, intended outcomes for students, and focus activities, underpinned by the three critical strategic drivers of participation, engagement, and achievement, as identified in the Ministry's Statement of Intent 2008-2013.3

Figure 1
The overarching aim, focus activities, broad student outcomes, and critical drivers of Ka Hikitia

Figure 1 The overarching aim, focus activities, broad student outcomes, and critical drivers of Ka Hikitia.

Note: Based on Ministry of Education (2008), Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008-2012, pages 14-15.

Ka Hikitia has 19 goals in total, with 78 "actions" with relevant targets.4 Ka Hikitia states that "it takes an evidence-based, outcomes-focused, Māori potential approach". Fundamental to achieving this is high-quality, culturally responsive teaching, based on the concept of ako:

The concept of ako describes a teaching and learning relationship, where the educator is also learning from the student and where educators' practices are informed by the latest research and are both deliberate and reflective. Ako is grounded in the principle of reciprocity and also recognises that the learner and whānau cannot be separated.5

Reviewing the progress of Ka Hikitia, the Ministry's interim evaluation report to Cabinet in 2011 noted that it had been put into effect more slowly than intended. The State Services Commission's Performance Information Framework report in 2011 also noted that the Ministry needed to apply greater effort to ensure that the intended outcomes of Ka Hikitia were met.

Since we published our context report, further research from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2012 shows that the disparity between Māori students' achievement and that of other students has not reduced significantly during the last two decades.6 This indicates how difficult it has been to change the education system at a systemic level to achieve equitable outcomes for Māori students relative to other ethnic groups.

The Ministry noted in its 2012 Statement of Intent that it intended to "refresh" Ka Hikitia with revised targets for participation, retention, and achievement for Māori students.7 Cabinet agreed to this in February 2013.

Rationale for our audit scope

We limited our scope for this audit to the compulsory school sector (primary, intermediate, and secondary schools) and focused mainly on English-medium schools (which may also include Māori-medium units). We might include kura kaupapa Māori or other primarily Māori kaupapa educational institutions in the scope of future audits.

We based our selection on a geographic distribution of Māori students in schools, as well as other demographic factors such as rural/urban and socio-economic context, and by size and type of school (primary, secondary, area school, intermediate, integrated, and state). When choosing which schools to invite to take part, we were mindful of representing schools of different roll size and urban and rural profiles.8

Our rationale for focusing mainly on English-medium schools was that most Māori students attend school in an English-medium setting. Therefore, our audit focuses on where Ka Hikitia could have the biggest effect.

The Ministry says there were about 740,000 domestic students enrolled in New Zealand schools on 1 July 2012. Of these about 165,000 (22%) were Māori, most of whom (about 95%) were enrolled in English-medium schools.

Most Māori students attend schools where they form a small proportion of the total roll (see Figure 2). For example, about half of all Māori students are in schools where less than one-third of the school roll is Māori. In contrast, New Zealand European students are less than one-third of the school roll in about 4% of schools.

Figure 2
Relationship between the proportion of the school roll who are Māori or New Zealand European and the cumulative Māori and New Zealand European student populations

Figure 2 Relationship between the proportion of the school roll who are Māori or New Zealand European and the cumulative Māori and New Zealand European student populations.

Māori students are less concentrated in large schools compared with the New Zealand European school population.9 The largest 419 schools account for 35% of the Māori student population, compared with half of New Zealand European students (see Figure 3). The largest 653 schools combined have half of all Māori students.

Figure 3
Number of schools and proportion of New Zealand European and Māori students

Average size of school in range (number of students) Number of schools in range (largest to smallest) Number of Māori students Cumulative % Māori student population Cumulative % New Zealand European student population
892 419 58,750 35 50
446 234 23,510 50 63
263 774 54,162 82 90
76 1096 29,183 100 100

Source: Ministry of Education, School Directory, available at, as at 1 March 2012.

The distribution of Māori students in small schools and with comparatively few Māori students on the school roll affects how Ka Hikitia is put into practice. Many small schools with few Māori on the school rolls have to work to influence the performance of Māori students. Because only 30 (state and private) schools have no Māori students, nearly all schools need to increase the rate of success of their Māori students.

There are other social and geographic differences in the distribution of Māori students. For example, in 2012 slightly over 45% of Māori students were enrolled in decile 1-3 schools compared with about 19% of all New Zealand European students. This and other analyses may be helpful to agencies to target their efforts to support the Ka Hikitia strategy and for schools to identify the part they can play.

We did not include the early childhood education sector, beyond interviewing the senior manager in the Ministry responsible. We also did not interview representatives of tertiary institutions.

How we did our audit

We sampled 27 schools so that we could consider the schools' perspectives on the effect of Ka Hikitia. We used the Ministry's database of schools to obtain a representative sample of English-medium schools. We were particularly interested in the effect of Ka Hikitia on students, whānau (parents/caregivers and extended family), and their communities.10 We talked to students, teachers, senior managers, whānau, members of boards of trustees members, community members (including local iwi representatives), regional Ministry staff, and national Ministry staff. Some of the practices we learned about could be useful to other schools in similar situations, so we have included descriptions of those practices in this report.

We talked to reviewers and senior managers from the Education Review Office (ERO).11 We gathered documentary evidence from many sources, including the ERO reports for the 27 schools in our sample. We also talked to iwi in three regions. We compared evidence from interviews and our observations with the ERO reports of those schools to assess our data.

We complemented our visits to schools with an online survey of 2387 schools, including Māori-medium schools, about how Ka Hikitia was put in practice. We received 633 responses from principals or their nominees, a response rate of 26.5%. The survey responses were consistent with our findings from the 27 schools.

We investigated how well the Ministry, as the lead agency for education, has led the rollout of Ka Hikitia, how other education agencies have responded and incorporated the aims of Ka Hikitia into their work, and how Ka Hikitia has become part of practice in schools.

We interviewed many officials in the national and regional offices of the Ministry, senior officials and review officers in ERO, and senior leaders and officials in the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), and the New Zealand Teachers Council (Teachers Council). We did not interview representatives of Careers New Zealand or Te Kura (the Correspondence School) during this audit. Collectively, we call these seven "all education agencies".

We interviewed the Minister of Education, independent professional learning and development providers, researchers, and representatives of organisations interested in Māori education.

We also reviewed many of the major documents about Ka Hikitia's introduction. These included the Ministry's internal evaluation, a mid-term review of Ka Hikitia, various statements of intent, and many other documents about education for Māori. We reviewed the Ministry's planning documents for the "refresh" of Ka Hikitia for the next phase, Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success 2013-2017.

ERO also provided us with information drawn from school reviews in Term Four of 2012 about schools' reporting of their use of Ka Hikitia.

For this audit, we seconded two of our team from the Ministry of Education and from ERO. We ensured that suitable measures were in place to prevent potential conflicts of interest.

In this audit, two particular documents were useful in evaluating Ka Hikitia's introduction and effect. These were How Policy Travels12 and "System-wide improvement in education".13

In 2009, Paul Goren gave the Ministry a challenging evaluation of how Ka Hikitia was put into effect. In particular, he warned that trying to change systems that involve changing people's "hearts and minds" takes time and concerted, ongoing effort. One reason for our visiting a small sample of schools was to see how well the policy decisions have been followed through and if they resulted in actions and changes that benefit the people that they were intended to help – Māori students.

Professor Ben Levin of the University of Toronto is an important commentator on education policy and system change whose work has influenced the Ministry's policy work in aiming to bring about large-scale change. We have compared the results of our audit with Levin's assessment of what is required to produce systemic change.

The structure of this report

In Part 2, we discuss the research, consultation process, and support for Ka Hikitia before and at the time of its launch.

In Part 3, we discuss how Ka Hikitia was introduced and make two recommendations for the next phase.

In Part 4, we discuss the processes and practices that support Ka Hikitia and describe how these are enacted in some schools. We make two recommendations in Part 4.

In Part 5, we show the effect that Ka Hikitia has had on Māori student experiences, achievement, and outcomes, and on teaching.

In Part 6, we discuss the lessons so far and how to build on what has been achieved. We make one recommendation in Part 6.

1: The context report is available on our website.

2: Ministry of Education (2008), Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008-2012, Wellington, page 11. The strategic intent has varied slightly since it was first launched in 2008. it is currently "Māori enjoying and achieving educational success as Māori".

3: Ministry of Education (2008), Statement of Intent 2008-2013, Wellington, page 7.4 As at March 2013. The number of goals, actions, and targets has varied slightly since Ka Hikitia was launched in 2008.

4: Did you respond to the strategy by seeking out and using professional learning and development or other resources?

5: Ministry of Education (2008), Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008-2012, Wellington, pages 19-20.

6: More information about the Programme for International Student Assessment is available on the Ministry's Education Counts website,

7: Ministry of Education (2012), Statement of Intent 2012-2017, Wellington, page 16.

8: When we refer to schools in this report, we mean English-medium schools unless otherwise specified.

9: We note that the ethnicity of students might not be accurate because of limitations with student management system enrolment data.

10: We use "whānau" to refer to parents or caregivers and extended family for Māori students and other students.

11: ERO is the agency with the mandate for evaluating and reporting on the educational performance of individual schools.

12: Goren, P (2009), How Policy Travels: Making sense of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success – the Māori Education Strategy, Fulbright New Zealand, Wellington.

13: Levin, B (2012), "System-wide improvement in education", Education policy series 13, The International Academy of Education/United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Paris/Brussels.

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