Using evidence for a step up - Learning from Te Kotahitanga: impact, sustainability and ongoing improvement

Nōreira, atawhaitia ngā rito, kia puāwai ngā tamariki.
Ako i ngā tamariki, kia tu tāngata ai, tātou katoa.
Therefore, cherish and nurture the shoots, so the children will bloom.
Learn from and with these children, so that we all can stand tall.

Berryman, M. (2008). Repositioning within indigenous discourses of
transformation and self-determination
(Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy
(PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.


Te Kotahitanga was designed to support Māori succeeding as Māori across the curriculum in ‘mainstream’ schools. Led by Māori expertise, this research and professional development intervention reached 54 secondary schools and iwi and whānau between 2001 and 2013. Te Kotahitanga accelerated improvement for Māori student achievement and wellbeing, and had significant positive effects for non-Māori.

This intervention, informed by the systematic use of evidence for ongoing improvement at each stage of implementation, won a World Innovation Summit in Education Award in 2013.

Māori students spoke of the change: ‘It’s like the opposite of racism in this school’.

This feature revisits the evidence so that others can learn from and build on the lessons from Te Kotahitanga about impact, sustainability and ongoing improvement in education.

Titiro whakamuri, kokiri whakamua

Look back and reflect so we can move forward

Using evidence for a step up
Learning from Te Kotahitanga: impact, sustainability and ongoing improvement video

In this video, Dr Adrienne Alton-Lee gives a BES Hei Kete Raukura perspective on the Te Kotahitanga research and professional development intervention and what we have learnt about impact, sustainability and ongoing improvement in education.

Table of Links to Specific Timings in the Video
Timestamp Video section

Te Kotahitanga in Best Evidence Syntheses


Introduction: Professor Mere Berryman


The relative impact of Kaupapa Māori education


Te Kotahitanga 2001–2013 Indigenous expertise for transformative change


The relative impact of different kinds of school-home interactions


Poutama Pounamu Research & Development Centre


Te Kotahitanga to scale: Phases 1-5


Primary schools: A Professional Learning Community Model – Early Recommendations


Phases 3 to 5: Sustainability and productive collaboration


Phases 3 & 5: Impact


Student voice: Racism and belonging as Māori


Ethical measures of racism and belonging for action


Te Kotahitanga demonstrated a Step Up


Policy implications: Children are free from racism, discrimination and stigma


What does not work in education? Evidence


Critical success factors


Revisiting what did not work in other initiatives: Unintended negative effects


What does work? Learning from demonstrated Māori expertise


Activating the four big improvement levers


Smart tools for sustainability


Te Kotahitanga: Cost benefit


Sustainability: The elephant in the room 


The taonga of the implementation expertise in the facilitators’ theses


The Treaty Partnership–Pacific students


Leadership for educationally powerful connections: System need


Use evidence: Learning from indigenous expertise


Looking backwards to go forward: Learning from Phase 5 principals


Learn from and with these children so that we can all stand tall: Towards a step change

Evaluation of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5

This report analyses the impact of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 on Māori student achievement and wellbeing and explores the design and implementation features that enabled such accelerated improvement.

It has implications for policy makers, teachers, middle and senior leaders, principals, providers of  professional learning, communities, Boards of Trustees, Ministry of Education staff and other government agencies.

"[An] excellent  report", "as New Zealand moves forward with Ka Hikitia, I would hope that ... the data reported in Effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5, 2010-12 will be considered  carefully" - Quality Assurance by Christine Sleeter, California State University.

Download the Full Report | View the Powerpoint Presentation

PDF IconKa Hikitia A Demonstration Report: Effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 (2010-2012) [PDF 2mB]
Authored by Adrienne Alton-Lee. Hard copies of the BES have been reprinted and are now
available to New Zealand educators to order free from Down the Back of the Chair.

Powerpoint Presentation: Launch of Ka Hikitia: A Demonstration Report [PDF 3.9mB]



Alton-Lee, A. (2015, September).
Disciplined innovation for equity and excellence in education: Learning from Māori and Pasifika change expertise
Invited paper for the World Educational Research Association focal session: Education of Diverse Students: A Multi Country Perspective

Find Out More

Find out more about the Te Kotahitanga eBook Collection.