Poor Māori achievement at NCEA can be turned around…

A recent New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) (2016) report reflected a gradual climb from 2011 to 2015 of 8.6% for Māori achieving National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) [Level 2]. However, the disparity between European (Pākehā) and Māori achievements is unjust. For NCEA [Level 2], Pākehā recorded 83.0% while Māori achieved 70.6%, a 12.4% difference, and at NCEA [Level 3], the difference between Māori and Pākehā grows to 17.5%.

These statistics are gathered from New Zealand secondary schools, which follow the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The NZC highlights the vision:

‘to create an Aotearoa New Zealand in which Māori and Pākehā recognise each other as full Treaty partners, and in which all cultures are valued for the contributions they bring’ (p.8).

Unfortunately, a 12.4% difference in NCEA [Level 2], and a 17.5% difference in NCEA [Level 3] achievement does not recognise Māori and Pākehā as full Treaty partners.

A tikanga approach that would drive an entire programme

These poor statistics can be turned around in a short time-frame if culturally responsive pedagogies are implemented into the delivery of mainstream education. The Ministry of Education (2014) states, ‘culturally responsive provision better engages Māori… and also supports the wider development of Māori language and tikanga Māori’ (p.12).

Regardless of what ethic background a teacher may come from, being culturally responsive to young Māori learners is providing a variety of rich cultural contexts that values their identity as Māori (Gay, 2000). To implement rich cultural contexts is about applying a tikanga approach that would drive an entire programme and not specific parts. A Māori framework for young Māori learners studying NCEA [Level 2] is an ideal starting point.



  • Bishop, R., & Berryman, M. (2006). Culture Speaks: Cultural relationships and classroom learning. Wellington, New Zealand: Huia Publications.
  • Gay, G. (2000). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Ministry of Education (2014). Ka Hikitia Accelerating Success 2013 – 2017. The Māori Education Strategy, Ministry of Education, Wellington.
  • New Zealand Qualifications Authority (2016). Annual Report on NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship Data and Statistics 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2016 from http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/assets/About-us/Publications/stats-reports/ncea-annualreport-2015.pdf
  • Smith, G. H. (2000). Māori education: Revolution and transformation. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 24(1).


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