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Kaiako Taskeen Thebus (right) with Waiora Huirama

Raroera Te Puawai Early Learning Centre has received the highest grade in its recent Education Review report.

The Puna Whakatupu in Kirikiriroa was lauded for its culturally-appropriate learning that sees kaimahi integrating mātauranga Māori in to children’s learning to extend their thinking.

The report said the puna caters for all children including those with diverse needs.

Its internal evaluation was well-established and robust and there was a focus on continued improvement.

It said kaimahi, whānau and puna leaders all contributed to the centre to ensure that the children saw themselves as successful and competent learners.

Puna manager, Tracy Ani Rikihana, said the Raroera Te Puāwai approach to education was based on tikanga and mātauranga Māori and would probably surprise traditionalists.

“We are listening to our tamariki and realising that they are the teachers and we are the learners,” she said.

“Everything we do in our marau is to empower them – so you have to listen to them and as the learner you can become the resource for them so that what they know and what they already possess in terms of mōhiotanga can grow. 

“What we know around teaching is to turn it on its head and rather than the adult holding all the knowledge they’re actually teaching us something so we can become the resource that moulds the pathway.”

She said Te Wānanga o Aotearoa undertook rangahau alongside the University of Waikato and Victoria University into this alternative method.

The rangahau helped them to realise there were practices they were using that were still being looked at from a mainstream perspective.

Their perspective on Mātauranga Māori changed, seeing the tamariki as being capable of taking in higher learning.

“Our rangahau showed we had to reclaim our traditional practices and reframe them so they can work in today’s contexts and when we took that framework and applied that to our curriculum everything changed”

Raroera Te Puāwai was previously on a three year ERO return review.

Their commitment to positive outcomes for tamariki and professional growth over the last two years has been recognised by the ERO.

Tracy Ani said, the review has also brought recognition as an exemplar of a quality ECE and is being sought after by early childhood education agencies in Waikato.

 On June 23, two Raroera Te Puāwai kaiako will be presenting to the Ministry of Education symposium about their assessment framework.

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