Ngāti Tamaoho are descendants of the Tainui waka with three affiliated marae – Mangatangi, Whataapaka and Nga Hau E Wha. They are a hapu of Waikato Tainui with about 4300 registered beneficiaries.

Because their numbers are small, a decision was made early on to work with government, existing educational providers and networks to build the relationships required to support Ngāti Tamaoho in all areas of life-long learning.

Their first grant was from the Department of Internal Affairs, in 2010, for an intern to work alongside beneficiaries to identify key priorities for Oranga Hou, the organisations Wellbeing arm. After a number of hui it became clear that education was of the greatest importance, followed closely by health and economic development.

The next step was the development of an education plan. In 2011 the hapu approached the Ministry of Education for assistance. A generous grant supported the development of both the Ngāti Tamaoho Education Plan and their Te Reo Strategy.

The identified education aspirations are: educational success by Tamaoho as Tamaoho; education where Tamaohotanga is a normal way; a curricula where our reo is our identity, our culture and our being; recognition of learning within whānau, hapū and community by the compulsory sector; recognition throughout the education system of Ngāti Tamaoho as a mana whenua group; all key education stakeholders in our rohe working together to promote success for all learners; varied pathways and smooth transitions through life-long learning that supports achievement of personal, whānau, hapū, community and economic goals; and resourcing to ensure mātauranga Tamaoho is available and used appropriately to support Ngāti Tamaoho aspirations.

The next step was provision and in 2016 the hapū successfully applied for TEC ACE funding and began to deliver community education programmes across their rohe. While Ngāti Tamaoho beneficiaries are priority, the aim is to make programmes available to the wider community.

The programme initially focused on bringing people back to the three marae – and it worked. Te reo Māori me ngā tikanga, marae tikanga, karanga and toi Māori classes regularly drew around 200 people three-quarters of whom were between 16–29 years.

Lawna Kani, who is a lead for the ACE programmes explained the philosophy of how the classes are delivered: “They are marae style, with conversations rather than a structured process. They always involve homework or doing research about a topic and bringing the information back to the next session, so a body of knowledge starts building in the group. They discuss the findings and look for new areas of learning. The result is that people become more familiar members within their marae, with a strong focus on tuakana-teina.
Three quarters of our learners are between the ages of 16 and 29, with our kuia and kaumatua adding some integral flavour to the sharing of knowledge. As a result, the learners become more confident in themselves as Māori with many moving into leadership roles within their whānau, communities and marae.”

The success of the marae-based programmes at Mangatangi Marae is something Ngāti Tamaoho will continue, but with growing interest from people living in more urban areas, there are a growing number of courses now being offered in Franklin, Papakura and Manukau.

In Manukau, the hapu delivers a waiata programme for the elderly living in a rest home. “These well received programmes help keep their minds engaged, keeping them active and building their inner person which contributes to them feeling better – building manaaki,” says Lawna.

And financial literacy programmes are delivered throughout the rohe. Lawna leads the sessions bringing in other people with specialist skills: “I get financial experts to provide certain parts of it. Once again, we have informal conversations about money. We often start with finding out who has read their bank statement and build off that, finishing with budgeting. Our target group is 16–24 year olds, but we work to get older people engaged too.”

Chassy Kani, is kaiako for Te Reo, Tikanga, Kawa and Kapa Haka courses: “We run these at marae and in various community spaces. Currently, the Te Reo courses are the most popular. Since the lockdown, everyone seems to want to learn te reo. We are running four courses currently with about 80 percent of the participants being tauiwi. We teach just the basics – with some people going on to completing NCEA levels at wānanga. My goal is to get our people back into study – and get a recognised qualification. With our Māori students I do a lot of pastoral care. If there is something that they need help with, I try and do that.

“After completion of a programme tauira are asked to provide an evaluation. At least 80 percent are happy to provide feedback which we use to guide our future programme.” The evaluation also shows that the increase of people’s numeracy and literacy skills is evident and that once people attend a community education programme many have the confidence to continue learning. Lawna says, “They are willing to try more, and when they see others change their behaviour, they want a piece of it too. If we can instil that learning process, they may be willing to try more community education. Our planned outcome is for tauira to have access to educational programmes that help them gain knowledge and grow confidence in themselves to go on to pursue further education and/or aspirational dreams. At the moment, a few are moving forward into more formal learning, but it is a slow transition. The current ongoing demand is for kaupapa Māori programmes. I think the goal of the whole community education process is getting more rangatahi into mahi particularly in the social services and environmental sectors. They are helping each other more and are much more likely to awhi others.”

In 2019 Ngāti Tamaoho engaged 1282 learners, and despite the woes of Covid-19 they have planned to attract the same numbers this year.