Riariakina ō Rongo Hirikapo

Funding year: 
2 years
University of Waikato
Cross sector
Project start date: 
January 2014
Project end date: 
January 2016
Principal investigator(s): 
Margie Hohepa
Research team members: 
Vanessa Paki and Sally Peters
Research partners: 
Te Kōhanga Reo o Ngā Kuaka and Tōku Māpihi Maurea Kura Kaupapa Māori. The researchers from the Kōhanga are Tere Gilbert (tumuaki), Tirau Anderson and Te Manu Pohatu (kaiako). The Kura researchers are Laura Hawksworth (tumuaki) and Dorie Olliver (kaiako)

Project Description

This was a collaborative cross-sector research project involving kōhanga-, kura- and university-based researchers. It focused on tamariki moving from kōhanga reo to kura classrooms and examined the development of an ‘akoranga whakawhiti’ or ‘transition programme’ that was based across Kōhanga Reo o Ngā Kuaka and Tōku Māpihi Maurea Kura Kaupapa Māori in Hamilton.


The overarching research question for this project was:  Pēhea rā te āhuatanga me te kounga o ngā whakawhitinga mai i te kōhanga ki te kura mō ngā tamariki, whānau, kaiako me te hapori?—What do effective transitions from kōhanga to kura look like, feel like, and sound like, for tamariki, whānau, kaiako and the community? 
The project aimed to provide important new insights into learning and teaching in Māori-medium settings and into ways of enhancing transitions from Māori-medium early childhood education to Māori medium classrooms. The project aimed to do this by investigating four aspects of kōhanga to kura transition, which have been developed alongside the four principles of Te Whāriki:
• Whakamana: Opportunities tamariki are given to take responsibility for their own learning and assessment;
• Ngā hononga: The extent that the collaborative kaupapa integrates kura wāhanga ako to foster emerging understandings of tamariki;
• Whānau tangata: Roles that parents, wider whānau and kaiako have, as transitions for kōhanga tamariki are also in effect transitions for parents and whānau;
• Kotahitanga: Ways the akoranga whakawhiti supports learning and development by building on existing working theories and interests of tamariki.

Why was this research important?

There has been relatively little research on the transition experiences of tamariki and their whānau in Māori medium education contexts.  Transition to kura is of major significance to both kōhanga and kura as they reflect whānau aspirations. Successful transitions to kura for tamariki in kōhanga reo settings are critical, as there is evidence that efforts to regenerate te reo Māori in kōhanga reo and in Māori medium early childhood settings may be being lost at the school gate.

What we did


The project began with a survey of Waikato kura that provided some baseline understandings of the range of kura transition strategies in the area. Following this survey, the project the kōhanga and kura began sharing teaching and learning information and planning collaboratively from a blend of Te Whāriki, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and Te Marautanga-ā-Kura. Kaiako researchers collected information through classroom observations and learning portfolios, and through formal interviews and informal conversations with tamariki. Parents/whānau, and kaiako were interviewed about their experiences and views of transitions by university researchers.


Qualitative and quantitative data were analysed collaboratively. Research hui were held up to twice a term to share and discuss information and data that kaiako researchers and university researchers collected about teaching and learning in the transition programme, ending in a two-day analysis wānanga/retreat.  Interviews were analysed thematically to identify key factors that helped to strengthen effective transitions from kōhanga to kura.  Programme documents, classroom observations and research hui discussions were also analysed to identify ways in which the kōhanga and kura curricula, along with wāhanga ako from Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, were being integrated in planning and teaching.


Our findings identified the importance of viewing and understanding ‘transition’ through kaupapa lenses–in terms of its significance to the ongoing growth, development and evolution of a shared kaupapa. They reinforced whanaungatanga as of fundamental significance for strengthening kaupapa Māori education pathways. Supporting and strengthening kōhanga-kura transitions also involves (re)establishing shared knowledge of the kaupapa that drive Māori medium programmes and practices, and formally planning for, nurturing and enacting an ongoing relationship with a strong focus on teaching and learning.

Our partners

Our partners are Te Kōhanga Reo o Ngā Kuaka and Tōku Māpihi Maurea Kura Kaupapa Māori. The researchers from the Kōhanga are Tere Gilbert (tumuaki), Tirau Anderson, Teina Hakaraia and Te Manu Pohatu (kaiako). The Kura researchers are Laura Hawksworth (tumuaki) and Dorie Olliver (kaiako).

Contact details

Margie Kahukura Hohepa: margie.hohepa@waikato.ac.nz
Ph: +64 (7) 856 4466 ex 7874



Book Chapter

Hohepa, M., & Paki, V. (2017). Māori medium education and transition to school. In N. Ballam, B. Perry & A. Garpelin (Eds.), Pedagogies of educational transitions: European and Antipodean research (pp.95-111). AG Switzerland: Springer.

National conference presentations

Hohepa, M., Paki, V., Oliver, D., Anderson, T., Hakaraia, T., Peters, S., Gilbert, T., Hawksworth, L. (2016). Te rerenga o ngā kuaka. Paper presented at Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand Conference, Claudelands, Hamilton, New Zealand, 15-16 July. Paper presented by T. Gilbert and Laura Hawkesworth

Hohepa, M. K. & Hawksworth, L. (2015). Nau mai; Whakawhiti mai: Enhancing transitions from kōhanga to kura. Paper presented at He Manawa Whenua Indigenous Research Conference, Claudelands, Hamilton, NZ, 29 June–1 July.

Hohepa, M. K. (2014). Transitioning from kōhanga reo te kura. Paper presented at Te Kōhao o te Rangahau: Indigenous Research Conference. University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, 12-13 April.

International conference presentations:

Hohepa, M., Paki, V., Peters, S., Hawksworth, L., Olliver, D., Anderson, T., & Hakaraia, T. (2016). “From about the child to with the child”: Assessment and transitions in indigenous language education. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, Washington DC, April 8-12. Paper presented by T. Hakaraia and M. Hohepa

Hohepa, M. & Hakaraia, T. (2016). Teachers Working Collaboratively to Support Transition in Māori Immersion Education Settings – Whanaungatanga in Action. Poster presentation at the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas & Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific American Educational Research Association Preconference, Thursday, April 7, 2016.

Hohepa, M., Anderson, T., & Olliver, D. (2015). Transitions and indigenous language settings. Paper presented at the American Education Research Association Conference, Chicago Ill, 16-20 April.

Hohepa, M. (2014). Transitions in indigenous education contexts. Symposium presentation: ‘Knowledge, identities and transitions’ at the 24th European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA) Conference, Crete Greece, 7-10 September.
Hawksworth, L., & Gilbert, T. (2014). Tōku Reo, Tōku Ohooho, Toku Reo, Toku Mapihi Maurea, Tōku Reo, Tōku Whakakai Marihi. Workshop at The World Indigenous Peoples conference on Education, Honolulu, Hawai’i, 19–24 May.