Libraries supporting Māori learners

Your school library plays a key role in helping your Māori and all other students aware of their culture and heritage, and the diversity of other cultures. This is vital, as they develop their self-identity, sense of values, and the competencies that will enable them to realise their potential.


Knowing your learner, making connections
Characteristics of effective school libraries for Māori learners
Understanding tikanga Māori values - library staff
Further research readings

Knowing your learner, making connections

Your Māori students' identity, language and culture needs to be valued. It is important that our Māori students are able to enjoy and achieve educational success as Māori.

There is a link between students’ well-being and their achievement. Showing you care and are interested in your students, along with having high expectations of them is vital to making connections and real relationships with your students.

The concept of ‘Ako’ is one easily incorporated into the library environment. Ako is the two-way teaching and learning process that emphasises reciprocal learning. This is in line with the Treaty of Waitangi principle of collaboration. A librarian can with the staff, the students, whānau and the wider community discuss how and what the students are learning and how they can provide support.

Find out more about Home-school partnerships
Find out more about the Librarian’s role in creating readers

“Language, Identity and culture count – knowing, respecting and valuing who students are, where they come from and building on what they bring with them.” - Ka Hikitia, p.20


Characteristics of effective school libraries for Māori learners

Findings from a national survey by the Education Review Office identified the following characteristics of effective school libraries for Māori student achievement:

  • Library policies and programmes: Strategies catered for the needs, interests and abilities of Māori students.
  • Culturally inclusive environment: Information environments visibly reflected the presence of cultures other than mainstream European.
  • Library collection development plans: Needs of Māori learners taken into account.
  • Resources: Provision of a range of relevant quality resources, including digital, chosen to reflect the diverse needs of Māori students and their learning programmes.
  • Māori perspectives: Students provided with texts that present authentic Māori perspectives, to help increase their understanding of themselves and their world.
  • Resource agencies: Use of available resource agencies beyond the school (for example, the National Library’s Lending Service) to enhance or increase the diversity of school-based collections.
  • Promotion: Resources actively promoted, attractively displayed and well-maintained.
  • Reading culture: Teachers fostered positive attitudes to reading for information, pleasure and personal development through access to quality information resources, and reading enrichment activities.
  • Access: Enabling students to have access to resources during and outside of class time.

Find out more about creating an inclusive library
Find out more about building an inclusive collection
Watch videos about how libraries can help support learners

Understanding tikanga Māori values - library staff

The following cultural competencies, identified by MOE as being required by teachers, have relevance for library staff in helping Māori learners achieve educationally as Māori:

  • Whanaungatanga: Actively engaging in respectful relationships with Māori learners, parents and whānau, hapu, iwi and the Māori community. Creating links where collaboration (as opposed to consultation) can take place with Māori learners, their whānau and community.
  • Manaakitanga: Caring for Māori learners as culturally located beings. Demonstrate integrity, sincerity and respect towards Māori beliefs, language and culture.
  • Tangata Whenuatanga: Affirms Māori learners as Māori - provides contexts for learning where the identity, language, and culture of Māori learners and their whānau is affirmed.
  • Ako: Teaching and learning relationship. The teacher (or librarian) is also the learner, ako provides an opportunity for reciprocal learning.

Professional support for Māori library staff includes:

  • Involving library staff in the school’s professional development initiatives, such as Te Kotahitanga and Te Tere Auraki
  • Te Rōpū Whakahau: Māori librarians and information specialists organisation.
  • Look out on the LIANZA and SLANZA email listservs for Mātauranga Māori hui run by Te Rōpū Whakahau.
  • Te Wānanga o Raukawa: Information Management Certificate/Diploma/ Degree.

Suggested Activities

  • You can use the School Community Profile Template to help ‘picture’ your school community and gather information about the learning needs and interests of your Māori students.
  • Document the role of your school library in supporting Māori student achievement in your Managing your school library: guiding statement
  • Monitor and evaluate what impact your library has made on Māori students’ competence in reading as part of your school’s assessment of its literacy programme and initiatives.

Further research readings

Educational resources and research findings

The following education resources and research findings will help provide you with a framework for service delivery, as well as ways to monitor your library's effectiveness.

Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2013-2017 -This is the updated strategy from its predecessor Ka Hikitia – Managing For Success 2008-2012. It is a strategy to rapidly change how the education system performs so all Māori students gain the skills, qualifications and knowledge they need to enjoy and achieve education success as Māori.

Te Marautanga o Aotearoa -The partner document to the New Zealand Curriculum, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa sets the direction for student learning in Māori-medium schools. Its overarching principles can also be applied to mainstream schools supporting Māori learning environments.

Te Mangoroa is a resource for English-medium schools. It is a portal to stories, reports, statistics, and reviews from across TKI and other sites that reflect effective practices to support Māori learners to achieve education success as Māori. 

Supporting Mäori Learners TKi English Online. A great range of research papers and findings

Image: Māori resources library display Waterlea School