Starpath Project

Completed in 2017, Starpath was the first rigorous research project looking into the impacts of socio-economic status on educational achievement in New Zealand.

About the project

Our project

Ko Maungawhau, ko Maungakiekie ngā maunga
Ko Waitematā, ko Manukau ngā whanga
Ko Tūtahi Tonu te whare
Ko Te Aka Matua ki Te Pou Hawaiki te marae
Ko Niwaru te waka
Ko Tuputupu Whenua te tangata

At the heart of this research project is the Epsom Campus marae, Te Aka Matua ki te Pou Hawaiki, which officially opened on 19 November 1983.

Forty years on, at the end of 2023, the marae and taonga from its wharenui Tūtahi Tonu will begin the move to a new site at the University of Auckland’s City Campus, along with the entire Faculty of Education and Social Work.

The Marae History Project is marking this momentous transition by gathering archival images and documents and rich storied accounts of the people, whenua and events that coalesced to bring the marae into existence on what was then the grounds of Auckland Teachers College. At the time, it was only the second tertiary campus in Aotearoa New Zealand to house a marae complex.

The Epsom Campus wharenui was originally a used prefab. Its transformation into an innovative, knowledge-rich cultural entity came about through the efforts of novice practitioners, creative Māori leadership and generous donations of labour, materials and good will.

In the four decades since its opening, the marae has provided a haven for Māori students while also enacting its foundational vision of welcoming all students, staff and visitors to encounter and learn from te ao Māori. Over time, Te Aka Matua ki te Pou Hawaiki Marae has become a taonga in and of itself, an inextricable dimension of Epsom Campus’s identity.

Unlike hapū and iwi marae in the community, a marae within an institution cannot draw upon continuous intergenerational whānau connections in the traditional sense to help keep alive its stories and purpose. This research project aims to honour the marae’s whakapapa and the spirit behind its unlikely origins so that future tangata whenua, manuhiri, tauira and kaiako can continue to engage with, learn from and be nourished by its taonga and histories.

If you have archival material (images or documents) that may be helpful for the Marae History Project – Epsom Campus, please contact Hēmi Dale, or Rose Yukich.

Our people

Dr Melinda Webber
Dr Melinda Webber

Editorial Rōpū
Helene Connor – Head of School Te Puna Wānanga
Hēmi Dale – Director Māori Medium Education/Project Co-editor
Rose Yukich – Research Fellow/Project Co-editor

Specialist Advisors
Bruce Taplin – Marae Whānau Representative
Melinda Webber – Te Tumu, Faculty of Education and Social Work

Our stories


  • Starpath Phase Three Final Report
    A synthesis of all research carried out during 2016 and 2017 as part of the Starpath Project.
  • Starpath Final Summative Evaluation Report 2016
    An overview of Phase 2 and presents findings and deliverables.
  • Starpath Phase One reports
    • Targets and Talk: Evaluation of Academic Counselling
    • Availability of NCEA Standards: Impact on Success Rate
    • Beyond the First Hurdle: Persistence Beyond the First Semester
    • Factors Affecting UE Success Rate
    • Impact of Revised UE Criterion
    • Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones: Transition to University
    • Towards University: Final Report



  • Malamalama i le NCEA (Lomiga lona lua/2nd ed)
    By Liz McKinley and Irena Madjar (NZCER, 2013)
  • Understanding NCEA (2nd ed)
    By Liz McKinley and Irena Madjar (2013)
  • Uni Bound? (Students' Stories of Transition from School to University)
    Edited by Elizabeth McKinley and Irena Madjar (2010)

Book chapters

  • "From schools in low-income communities to university: Challenges of transition for Māori and Pacific students".
    McKinley, E. & Madjar, I. (2014)
    In F. Cram, H. Phillips, P. Sauni and C. Tuagalu (Eds), Māori and Pasifika Higher Education Horizons. H.T. Frierson (Series Ed.), Diversity in Higher Education. Vol. 15. New Milford, CT: Emerald Books (pp 241-252).
  • "The Starpath Project: Promoting student success in secondary schools serving low-SES communities".
    Santamaria, A.P., Webber, M., McKinley, E. & Madjar, I. (2014)
    In V.M. Carpenter & S. Osborne (Eds). Twelve Thousand Hours: Education and Poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand. Auckland: Dunmore Publishing (pp 238-245).

Journal articles

  • "Data systems in secondary schools: The state of play".
    Irving, S.E., & Gan, M. (2012). Computers in New Zealand Schools, Vol.24, No.2, pp108-136

Contact us

For enquiries or to request Starpath resources, please contact Dr Melinda Webber.