Toitū Taiao: NCEA

Toitū Taiao: NCEA was developed as an iwi led solution-focused initiative to help address the impact of learning interruptions on NCEA outcomes for rangtahi in Te Taitokerau  as a result of COVID and related whānau situations.

Te Aho Tū Roa Kaiwhakapūmau Joanne Murray works in collaboration with Te Rarawa Anga Mua in Te Tai Tokerau. In 2022 they received funding from the Ministry of Education (MoE) for Ākonga Support for NCEA 2022.   See earlier story here.

Practical hands on Chemistry testing of whenua

It is also part of an Iwi approach to education initiatives based on the broader “Marau Taiao” kaupapa. Noho marae wananga are embedded in te ao Māori with deliberate culturally responsive pedagogy and mātauranga Māori to provide authentic, connected experiential learning in local environments. Four wananga were held between October and January.

The funding ensured that there were no cost barriers for taitamariki and their whanau as transport, healthy kai, the marae and school venues, and resources were all provided. We were able to engage specialist kaiako and tuākana who committed to the kaupapa for the duration of the wananga. Being marae-based ensured a positive and safe learning environment where the group of Te Tai Tokerau taitamariki needing additional NCEA support would feel comfortable.

The inaugural four-day Toitū Taiao NCEA wananga was hosted by Ngāti Manawa Marae (Panguru) and Te Kura Taumata O Panguru. Ākonga from all over Tai Tokerau joined us,  completing their Maths, English, Chemistry, Te Reo.

Whakarapa awa water testing

There was some massive learning, including:

  • experiential learning to contextualise our main learning theme “I am water, and water is me!!
  • helping our taitamariki to achieve their NCEA credits for the year, whilst being on the marae,
  • learning about whakapapa o te Wai (genealogy of water), about the various Atua associated with water, purakau and history of the area understanding where the water of Panguru comes from,
  • impacts that can affect the water quality, testing the water,
  • learning waiata and various hand games about the whakapapa o te Wai and Nga Kaupeka o te tau (phases of summer), Maramataka (Maori Lunar Calendar), which all help us to read and understand nga tohu o te Taiao (Environmental indicators)


Many students arrived unclear about NCEA, low self-esteem and not engaged in kura anymore….

“I don’t think I am smart enough because I have left school.” – Pakeke: 15yr Akonga.

“I am not at all confident because I left school and do not have enough credits.”- Pakeke: 17yr Akonga.

“Before I came to the wananga I was finding it hard to focus on my education after such a good level 1 then losing motivation but this has been a good academic push and boosted my confidence” – Pakeke:Y12 Akonga.

“This is the difference between gett\ing into uni or not” – Pakeke: Yr13 Akonga.

All akonga left proud of their hard work, heads held high with a newly inspired hope for their education and a couple wanting to re-engage with school.

“My kotiro is planning to head to Vic Uni at the end of the year looking at the Diploma in Måtauranga Māori. So many acknowledgements to you all for having my kotiro over the last couple of wananga. It has reinvigorated her love for learning and she has had an amazing time. So appreciative for all you guys have given to her and blessings to you all and this wonderful kaupapa going forward. Aroha mutunga kore.”

– Pāpā of 17yr akonga.

Much love and respect to our amazing kaiako, tuakana and kaitautoko for their energy and commitment to complete work throughout the series of wananga. All kaiako are passionate about education and ensuring our taitamariki achieve success in a culturally rich and taiao focused curriculum. A total of 600 credits was delivered and achieved by akonga by the end of the three wananga of 2022, with a final delivery due on the 23-26th January 2023.

“Te manu e kai ana i te miro, nōna te ngahere; te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga nōna te ao”

Holding the vision of Te Aho Tū Roa and Enviroschools