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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/care/caring-for-tamariki-in-care/supporting-tamariki-with-their-education-and-training-needs/enrolling-and-supporting-akonga-maori-in-maori-boarding-schools/
Printed: 14/06/2024
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Last updated: 30/08/2022

Enrolling and supporting ākonga Māori in Māori boarding schools

We need to understand the schools’ enrolment processes and the ongoing support ākonga (students) will need. We apply the principles of whakapapa, mana tamaiti and whanaungatanga when we engage with ākonga, their whānau and the community we work with.


Me mahi tahi tātou mō te oranga o te katoa

We must work together for the wellbeing of all

This protocol draws together the thoughts, considerations and experiences of the tumuaki of the schools represented on this webpage. It conveys their expectations and requirements for the enrolment and the ongoing support of ākonga in the school environment. It aims to support Oranga Tamariki kaimahi to apply the principles of whakapapa, mana tamaiti and whanaungatanga in our processes and engagement with ākonga, their whānau and the community we work with.

Special character of Māori boarding schools

The special character of Māori boarding schools enables strong support networks to be maintained with the past ākonga (students) and whānau, staff of school and hostel (both present and past), members of the community, locally, throughout New Zealand and internationally.  Supporting ākonga and their whānau in this space as a social worker requires building a positive, supportive relationship with the school.

The traditional focus above all is having academic rigour and providing the opportunity for ākonga to learn as Māori, using Māori contexts and content where possible. The schools’ focus is to develop ākonga in education through incorporating Māori perspectives and content across the curriculum. While whakapapa connections may be strengthened through attendance at a Māori boarding school, this is not the focus of the school. Our responsibility to support ākonga to strengthen and maintain whakapapa connections must be upheld throughout their attendance at the school.

When enrolling and supporting ākonga Māori in Māori boarding schools, we ensure that our practice aligns with the special character, values and tikanga of those schools.

This protocol applies to tamariki and rangatahi we are working with who are being enrolled or supported in a Māori boarding school as a boarding ākonga or a day ākonga. It describes the requirements that need to be fulfilled to successfully enrol and support ākonga in Māori boarding schools.

This protocol has been developed in partnership with the following schools to ensure that our practices and engagement is relational, inclusive and restorative with our community partners and reflects their goals and aspirations:

Hukarere Girls’ College was not a part of the development of this protocol, but the practice and requirements described here should be followed if enrolment in Hukarere Girls’ College is being considered.

The following 4 takepū represent the schools’ collective aims and form the foundation for our engagement with the ākonga, their whānau and the schools:

  • Whanaungatanga – To build positive engagement experiences for effective relationship building to enable wellbeing and academic rigour of the ākonga.
  • Tika and Pono – Tika and pono requires that we are true and authentic in our intent and that we follow tikanga to ensure that we do things correctly. It also requires that we uphold the kawa of the school that we engage with.
  • Wānanga – The concept of wānanga is to bring peoples’ perspectives on a kaupapa together. Its aim is to consider, deliberate and come to a consensus among the people in attendance. This relates to the importance of having robust conversations around education with whānau before enrolment.
  • Mana Motuhake – To enable ākonga to determine their own pathway forward in education through self-determination and control over their own destiny.

Considering enrolment in a Māori boarding school

Ngā tohutohu (guidance)

Enrolment in a Māori boarding school should only be considered if:

  • the ākonga and their whānau have a commitment in keeping with the special character of the school – for example, an existing affiliation to te Hāhi Katorika (the Catholic church) or Hāhi Mihingare (the Anglican church) or a whakapapa or whānau connection
  • the educational needs and aspirations of the ākonga align with the offering of the school
  • the school being considered is accepting new enrolments – check this before progressing further.

Ensure that consideration of enrolment is done with ample time in advance to ensure that the transition into the school is as successful as possible with the resources and supports in place that may be required.

Enrolling and engaging tamariki and rangatahi in care in education

Ngā pātai tautoko (supporting questions)

What conversations about education have been discussed with the whānau?

Does this ākonga have an existing connection or affiliation to one of the Māori boarding schools?

  • St Joseph's Māori Girls' College, Greenmeadows, Napier
  • Hato Pāora College, Parorangi, Feilding
  • Te Aute College, Pukehou, Hastings

Has a whānau hui with the ākonga and whānau occurred to gain an understanding of the whakapapa or whānau connections to the school?

Why would this school be an appropriate fit for this ākonga? Would this ākonga be able to explain why they would be a good fit for this school?

How would this ākonga be able to achieve their own rangatiratanga in this school?

What is this ākonga wanting to achieve and how does this align with why they have selected this school?

The schools' special character involves values within whakapono ki te karaitiana (Christianity), specifically Katorikatanga (Catholic) or Mihingare (Anglican) and Māoritanga (Māori perspectives). How do the values of the ākonga and their whānau align with these belief systems? 

Progressing enrolment

Kawa (protocol)

If, after exploring the appropriateness of enrolment in a Māori boarding school with the ākonga and their whānau, we want to pursue enrolment in a Māori boarding school, the intention to enrol should be discussed with the local kairaranga ā-whānau (kairaranga) in the first instance. (If there is no kairaranga in role at site, we should discuss this with a kairaranga our site liaises with.)

The purpose of the discussion is to determine the appropriateness of enrolment in that school. The views and aspirations of the ākonga and their whānau will be shared with the kairaranga alongside the assessment of their education needs and why they believe this school in particular will meet them.

The kairaranga will assess if the ākonga is going to be an appropriate fit for the school or if further work needs to be achieved before progressing with enrolment.

If the local kairaranga deems this school an appropriate option, the next step is for the local kairaranga to contact the kairaranga of the Oranga Tamariki site where the school is located:

  • Hato Pāora College – Jamie Nepia (Kairaranga), Chelsea Manuel (Senior Māori Advisor Iwi Engagement)
  • St Joseph's Māori Girls' College – Tuterangi Apatu (Kairaranga), Kara Kira (Kairaranga)
  • Te Aute College – Tuterangi Apatu (Kairaranga), Monica Watson (Kairaranga)

If both kairaranga agree enrolment is appropriate, the kairaranga in the location of the school seeks confirmation from their site manager of providing ongoing support as required while the ākonga is attending the school. The kairaranga also informs the senior advisor education and health responsible for the area where the school is located.

Once it is agreed that the enrolment be progressed, the nominated kairaranga for the school initiates communication with the school. It is the decision of the school as to whether the proposed enrolment is accepted or declined. If the tumuaki (school principal) agrees to the enrolment, a collective hui will follow. The hui should include the:

  • tumuaki or another representative
  • whānau of the ākonga
  • ākonga
  • social worker for the ākonga and the co-social worker where allocated
  • kairaranga ā-whānau
  • Ministry of Education support.

Supporting the ākonga in school

Ngā tohutohu (guidance)

While kairaranga ā-whānau provide support with enrolment and engagement with the school, it is the responsibility of the social worker to provide ongoing support to the ākonga and to ensure their needs are met.

If the whānau and social worker for the ākonga are not within the same site area as the school, a co-worker should be requested from the site area of the school to assist with providing ongoing support. These conversations between sites should occur after the enrolment has been accepted and prior to the ākonga starting school.

Casework responsibilities when our work involves more than 1 site

Maintaining regular contact with the ākonga and the school is crucial to ensure that the ākonga has the right resources in place to thrive in their education and wellbeing. This should include regular visits or meetings.

Where the ākonga is required to have an All About Me plan, it should specify visiting needs and frequency and this should be discussed with the tumuaki, pastoral care manager and/or other appropriate staff.

The whānau and/or caregivers of the ākonga must commit to support the wider activities and special character aspects that are a core part of the school’s community – for example, attending galas, annual events and ākonga interviews, as long as it is agreed that this is safe and appropriate. The social worker should ensure that the whānau and/or caregiver have the necessary support to fulfil these responsibilities. This may be included in the All About Me plan for the ākonga and the caregiver support plan where relevant.

Ngā pātai (supporting questions)

How will the ākonga be supported in a consistent and ongoing way?

How will our engagement uphold the mana of the ākonga – for example, planning our contact out of school hours to maintain their privacy and not disrupt their learning?

How will we apply a mana-enhancing approach with the whānau for them to be able to provide support with the school alongside the social worker where required?

How are the whakapapa connections for the ākonga going to be maintained or strengthened outside of the school environment to build a sense of identity if the ākonga is enrolled in this school?

Working in partnership with the school

We must be transparent with the school about the assessed needs of the ākonga to ensure that the school has a holistic understanding of the ākonga and the supports they will require. This includes any specific needs or challenges that will need to be managed if the ākonga is co-living in a school hostel environment.

The school and its pastoral care system do not have the specialist skills to manage complex needs such as:

  • mental health challenges
  • behavioural difficulties
  • significant disabilities or learning challenges.

To support the school, a robust plan needs to be developed with the school to ensure clear expectations and agreement between Oranga Tamariki and the school about roles and responsibilities and how we will work together to meet the needs of the ākonga. The development of the plan is led by the school with a copy for the social worker for the ākonga. Where relevant to the ākonga, this would be updated in their All About Me plan.

If there are differing views that arise between the school and the social worker or whānau that cannot be resolved by meeting and talking together, the school or social worker may choose to seek the input of the kairaranga local to the school. This is to support communication between the school, the social worker, the whānau and the ākonga as appropriate, and to mediate the differing perspectives.

Ngā pātai (supporting questions)

How is the relationship and engagement going to be maintained with the school? For example:

  • outline frequency and timeliness of visits so as not to disrupt routine and learning
  • outline what information will be provided to the school and the frequency of any updates
  • outline the communication and engagement arrangements between the social worker and whānau of the ākonga and the requirements for matters such as access, leave and holidays.

Closing whakataukī

Mā te huruhuru ka rere te manu

It is the feathers that enable the bird to fly