Pūtoi Ako


The principles of kaupapa Māori pedagogies, mātauranga Māori and Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles and accountabilities are at the heart of the Curriculum Framework Transformation Programme. 

Pūtoi Ako has defined the three key terms above and suggested how they might be practically applied in a transformed curriculum framework in the definitions section of this page.  

Who we are

The Pūtoi Ako working group, led by Piata Allen, Daniel Wilson, Alison Jones, Mel Wall and Rowan Herbert, is part of the Curriculum Framework Transformation Programme  and includes around 80 members from across the University including staff and students.

We meet monthly via zoom on Mondays 1:30-2:15pm. Please contact Piata Allen if you would like to join our rōpū.

Frequently asked questions

These FAQs are questions encountered by members of Pūtoi Ako during the Curriculum Framework Taskforce processes. This should be read alongside the Pūtoi Ako definitions on this page.

Where we are now

The working group defined five key focus areas in 2021.

This year the following three focus areas are being progressed: 

  • Core learning  
  • Mātauranga pathways 
  • Academic and professional standards  

Focus areas

Pūtoi Ako has identified five key focus areas in 2021 to give effect to the aspirations of Taumata Teitei.  Pūtoi Ako promotes a shared understanding of the terms: Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles and accountabilities, mātauranga Māori and kaupapa Māori pedagogies and how they are being used in the curriculum framework transformation process. These definitions can be found below and are woven throughout the following focus areas. 

1. Core learning

To establish a shared foundational understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori-focused curriculum content pertinent to Waipapa Taumata Rau | University of Auckland and its unique context. 

Proposed recommendations have been made to introduce a: 

  • 15-point “Waipapa Taumata Rau” course to be completed by all undergraduate students in their first year of study. 
  • zero-point postgraduate version of the “Waipapa Taumata Rau” course (or equivalent) in the first-year enrolment for all students. 
  • zero-point online te reo Māori pronunciation screening to be completed by all students.

Please see the FAQs for further information.

2. Māori leadership

The nature of the transformation necessitates Māori oversight at every level. This will ensure that those  with knowledge and expertise in Te Tiriti o Waitangi, mātauranga Māori and kaupapa Māori pedagogies are positioned to ensure that the implementation is consistent with Waipapa Toitū, Taumata Teitei, and Te taonga nō tua whakarere, he taonga mō āpōpō: The University of Auckland Language Plan for the Revitalisation of  Te Reo Māori 2020–2025, as well as with national and international indigenisation movements.   

It is important that those with knowledge and expertise in decolonisation and the revitalisation of Indigenous knowledges provide leadership for the implementation of the Pūtoi Ako focus areas. This will help to ensure that the process does not result in further language, knowledge, and culture loss.  

In this context, Māori leadership goes beyond consultation and advisory roles where Māori experts are brought on to teaching programmes to simply add content, or to provide Māori examples. Māori experts are recognised as such by their own communities and the academic community.

3. Mātauranga pathways

A number of courses and programmes primarily concerned with mātauranga already exist at Waipapa Taumata Rau | University of Auckland. These, with the development of new courses, will become more visible and students will have the option of following specialist and transdisciplinary mātauranga pathways.

These mātauranga pathways will exemplify engagement with mātauranga Māori and kaupapa Māori pedagogies underpinned by Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnerships. Mātauranga pathways also increase the need for higher numbers of mātauranga experts and researchers including those participating in external research collaborations.

This provides an enabling environment for further research by and with Māori and Indigenous scholars. The pathways will transition students into the University at all entry points and provide mentoring and guidance toward research and academic career pathways. 

4. Academic and professional standards

The responsibility for achieving the goals and aspirations of Taumata Teitei must be shared equitably by all Waipapa Taumata Rau | University of Auckland staff. Phased support and capability-building for staff, designed and led by experts, will support an understanding of kaupapa Māori pedagogies, and engagement with Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles and accountabilities and provide appropriate opportunities to refresh programmes.  

5. Building and strengthening core learning

Finally, where relevant and appropriate, programmes and disciplines will be encouraged and supported to build on the curriculum and pedagogy of the “Waipapa Taumata Rau” course to enable a connected experience for students throughout their learning at this University. 

Next steps

The following focus areas will be addressed in the next phases of the transformation.  

2023 -2024 

  • Māori Leadership 
  • Building upon and Strengthening Core Learning 


As a result of the Taumata Teitei consultation and development process, strategic discussions among senior leaders, and in recognition of our unique place in Tāmaki Makaurau and the Pacific, seven cross-cutting horizontal principles for the transformed curriculum were identified. These represent key elements every student should be exposed to as part of a distinctive Waipapa ‎Taumata ‎Rau | University of Auckland curriculum experience. Three of these principles were explored and defined below:  

Te Tiriti Principle 

This principle recognises that Te Tiriti is at the heart of our institution. Taumata Teitei affirms the University’s commitment to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. As mentioned in Taumata Teitei, our teaching and learning will be framed by Te Tiriti accountabilities; we will give effect to Te Tiriti; the University will be a place where te reo Māori can flourish and where mātauranga Māori and Te Tiriti o Waitangi are valued, fostered, protected and used responsibly. 

How does this principle relate to the Curriculum Framework Transformation? 

The Te Tiriti principle reminds us: 

  • that Māori have interests in their/our taonga including their material resources, language (te reo), culture (tikanga), knowledge (mātauranga) and wellbeing (mauri, hauora). The University has a responsibility to protect this rangatiratanga, supporting Māori to protect and nurture those taonga. 
  • that Māori interests should be a central and integral component in all University planning processes, not considered an add-on under ‘diversity’ or equity. 
  • that the Māori-Crown relationship is of positive relevance to, and the responsibility of, all – and not simply Māori – staff and students. We celebrate and recognise our personal and collective relationship with Te Tiriti, whether or not we are born in Aotearoa and regardless of whakapapa. 
  • that, as per Toitū Waipapa, we foreground the need for all students and staff to have a sense of ‘who they are’ and how that identity might underpin their work. This identity allows each of us to understand ourselves in relation to te ao Māori and Māori rights, interests and issues via the development of three strands of relationship to this place (Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa, i te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa), with the mana whenua (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, as well as mana whenua for Te Tai Tonga and Te Taitokerau campuses) and to New Zealand’s history and Te Tiriti.  

Mātauranga Māori Principle 

This principle refers to the central value and recognition the University accords to Māori knowledges and ways of knowing. It refers also to the responsibility and honour we have as a knowledge institution to develop, nourish, protect, and help revitalise mātauranga, and to learn respectfully from Māori knowledge experts from the University as well as from communities outside the University.   

For the purposes of this project, mātauranga Māori is defined as “the unique Māori way of viewing themselves and the world, which encompasses (among other things) Māori traditional knowledge and culture” (WAI262 p6). 

Mātauranga Māori encompasses ancient knowledge of the human, natural and spirit worlds as well as modern and creative knowledge of these realms. It is knowledge developed collectively by Māori in the past, present and future. It refers not simply to knowledge but to ways of knowing. 

Mātauranga Māori is a taonga, and as such requires protection. While iwi Māori are the primary kaitiaki of their knowledge, the University has an obligation to protect mātauranga Māori, and to provide a safe environment in which mātauranga can flourish. WAI 262 Waitangi Tribunal Report provides detail on the Crown’s kaitiakitanga obligations with regard to mātauranga. 

Mātauranga Māori is held, developed, and taught by iwi experts (or those considered experts by Māori). It is undergoing revival in te ao Māori, on marae and at wānanga. It is not homogenous and can be iwi, hapū and whānau specific. It finds expression in all fields of human endeavour including engineering, economics, music, sports, art, biology, education, law, medicine, physics, psychology, religion, architecture, philosophy, mathematics, technology, as well as daily life in whānau and in communities. 

Mātauranga Māori includes te reo Māori. It can be expressed in te reo Māori or other languages. But it must be remembered that many Māori terms cannot be translated and retain their meanings. Te reo Māori is often metaphorical and its layers of meaning get their full sense within the living context. In other words, some aspects of mātauranga Māori are not fully knowable in isolation from te reo Māori. 

Mātauranga can use methods similar to those of science, though it recognises dimensions of existence beyond those accessible to science, and makes sense of a fundamentally relational universe (see Salmond, 2012).  

Charles Royal (2012) states that mātauranga Māori 

  • “assists the person in their understanding of their (usually) iwi and ancestral origins”  
  • enables “an examination of existing fragments of traditional knowledges on a variety of topics” including the heavens, forests, medicines, biodiversity of oceans, and so on  
  • explains the world. It is possible to ask “What is the mātauranga Māori view of birds, or trees or anger or love?” 
  • provides guidance on how one ought to lead one’s life including tikanga [customs] 
  • enables philosophical inquiry into, for instance, methodology and knowledge creation 
  • relates to notions of indigeneity – how we can improve the way in which humankind exists and lives in the world, rekindling kinship (the network of relations) between people, and between people and the natural world. 

Kaupapa Māori Pedagogies Principle  

For the purpose of this project, kaupapa Māori pedagogies can be understood as teaching and learning underpinned by Māori values and reflecting Māori preferred practices. Some of these values are expressed in the three Te Ao Māori Principles from Taumata Teitei: manaakitanga, whanaungatanga and kaitiakitanga.   

Kaupapa Māori pedagogies: 

  • Support the Māori-led revitalisation of te reo Māori, mātauranga Māori and tikanga Māori through centring Māori ways of knowing and being (see Smith, 2021) 
  • Reject deficit theorising (see Bishop, 2010) and promote tino rangatiratanga for Māori learners and te ao Māori 
  • Contribute to the ongoing improvement of learning design and delivery of te ao Māori content and content for Māori learners  

Kaupapa Māori pedagogies can include all best teaching practices in on-line, digital and in-person settings. Like all pedagogies, they depend on the desired learning outcomes in any context. Kaupapa Māori pedagogies add to the existing suite of teaching and learning practices by suggesting wānanga and experiential, place-based learning, and other practices found useful by Māori teachers and learners.   

The Kaupapa Māori pedagogies principle reminds that how we teach is as important as what we teach. If we can engage and excite and inspire our students (manaakitanga), we can teach them; if they are not inspired and engaged, teaching fails. Kaupapa Māori pedagogies are relational. Relationships between students and staff, and amongst the groups that make up the university are the key to strong enduring bonds of loyalty and collaboration (whanaungatanga). With these two values in place, we can become good citizens who teach, and lead the development of, the knowledge that our human and natural world needs today and tomorrow (kaitiakitanga). 


Bishop, R. (2010). Effective teaching for indigenous and minoritized students. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 7(C), 57-62. 

Royal, T. A. C. (2012). Politics and knowledge: Kaupapa Māori and mātauranga Māori. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 47(2), 30-37. 

Salmond, A. (2012). Ontological quarrels: Indigeneity, exclusion and citizenship in a relational world. Anthropological Theory, 12(2), 115-141. 

Smith, L. T. (2021). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples (3rd ed.). London: Zed Books. 

Contact us

For general enquiry, email the Curriculum Framework Transformation Programme.