Māori matrix used as a guide for mainstream school

By Regan Paranihi

A Palmerston North mainstream school has taken the cultural matrix for Māori organisations, Te Whiringawhā, and has incorporated those principles into running the school.

The matrix is used to show how Māori society encounters, verifies, develops and understands the world and Riverdale School principal Debra Peck says it's been successful.

"The story that sat behind it of the waka coming to New Zealand and how they were organised, the notion of four, of how the four pillars of the marae worked so for us it just aligned with our thinking of collaboration, of community, of working together."

Te Whiringawa is the framework that was incorporated into the school system three years ago, Peck also says there has been significant growth within the management team through to the students.

"Its something we can use to provide some Māori insight and perspective into how we operate."

More than 300 students attend Riverdale School, 20% of them are Māori and Te Whiringawhā is a matrix that has been encouraging success within the school.

Deputy Principal Kelly Mercer says, "The children see it as something that is valuable something that they wish to aspire to belong to."

She also adds, "Te Ao Māori is a part of who we are it is just something that makes us here at Riverdale feel tau."

The Te Whiringawha model is helping students understand the importance of leadership and teamwork.

"Having the whiringa as a concept that underpins that the children can understand different types of people have different types of roles when they are working in group learning situations," explains Mercer.

The school's vision with this Māori matrix is for the students to be able to learn life lessons as well as life skills.

"[We hope] for the children to have a deep understanding of the whiringa that it becomes a part of who they are naturally," says Mercer.

Principal Debra Peck is encouraging other mainstream schools to consider using Māori matrix as it has worked wonders for her and her team.