Walking the talk…. Relationships….Whanaungatanga…


Tangata ako ana i te whare, te turanga ki te marae, tau ana
A person who is taught at home, will stand collected on the Marae (meeting house grounds)

Meaning a child who is given proper values at home and cherished within his family, will not only behave well amongst the family but also within society and throughout his life.

So what has this got to do with school you may ask? Maybe a better question could be where does the whare end and what part does a kura/school have to play here?
I would say if we are practicing and enabling true whanaungatanga, then the kura/school has a a very important part to play here. Returning to school for another year, twittersphere has been alive with people talking of the importance of relationships and knowing the learner. With ideas on how to do this, often I see neat things that primary educators are up to where they in action this and prioritise this and give time for this. There are many secondary educators attempting to do this in their own classrooms. Educators that make a concerted effort to do this and ensure they also build those important relationships. However, there is often institutions at play that can be a barrier to this. For instance how many students came back to secondary school, meet their new form teacher, got their timetable and got to it. Arriving in their classrooms to be handed their year plan, when topics would be, when assessments would be…

I have been a part of this…many years of this…surely there can be a better way…

What if a whole school can break institutions like timetables, give time to relationship building like our primary colleagues, what if they can truly get to know their learners and really start to personalise education. This week more than any other week at HPSS, have I truly seen the shift we are creating around this. We never pretend to have the answer, or the right way of doing things, but we are trying very hard. This moves, evolves and refines along the way and I don’t think we will ever think we have it “done”. I hope that we never think we have it done! We reflect and act each year. It is sometimes difficult to explain this from where we have come to where we are now. But one thing I know is that this week was pretty special and it is only from not getting things “right” that we have got to this place.

So all talk?? Here is a bit of a record for my own thinking on shifts…

Over the past couple of years we have had Individual Education Meetings where students lead the meeting and dialogue happens around learning with students, whānau and coaches. In the first year we had an evening where we met the families, the second year we met those who came to the Waitangi Celebrations, see here… https://sallyhart72.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/something-truly-special-is-brewing-here/

What we have realised is we need connections to start earlier than when we talked about the students learning part way through the year. We need to gain an understanding of who they are, through both their eyes and the eyes of their whānau. The SLT had already set about doing this as they enrol the whole whānau. However, we were missing that step with the coaches. Here are some of the questions that were discussed in the first IEM this year.

At initial IEM/Catch up with Student/Parent, Coaches complete Initial Interview. This initial interview can be used as a reference point for the duration of their time at HPSS. Questions include:
What are your interests and passions?
What sports do you play or would you like to play?
What are your main strengths?
What do you find difficult?
What are you most worried about?
What are you most looking forward to?
Favourite food and drink?
What is your favourite learning area(s)?
What was your favourite thing about your previous school?
Anything else…
Parent – Looking forward to…
Parent – Worried about…
Student aspirations…
Parent expectations…

All of this was collected in KAMAR. Not the usual data that is collected in KAMAR??? Why??? Just as important as what level they are sitting at on the curriculum! If not, more!!!

Seeing the coaches in my community and the powerful partnerships they were developing at such an early time in the year, made me a little bit like Maurie for a second! #tearsinmyeyes Maurie and the SLT have recognised the importance of this and collapsed the timetable to allow for these meetings to occur across the first week. Many can have a vision, however to walk the talk, you need to enable some shifts and be courageous in leadership. I believe this was one of those. This was continued into the second week, where once again the timetable was collapsed, for relationship building as well as introduction to the “Hobby way” if there can be such a thing 🙂 Learning about Big Projects, the Learning Design Model and more…

Most importantly was that relationship building with the coaches and the community..Here is an a summary on the focus of our hubs…

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Here is a collection of resources that hub coaches were using to develop these relationships. This is a collaborative website, which will develop over time… The week prior to this as a group of coaches in a community, we took part in many of the getting to know each other activities, so that coaches had a kete to take into the first week… this was important as some of the coaches are new to HPSS and this is quite a different aspect to our curriculum.


Maurie also introduced the idea of “ako” to all and showed his staff the true meaning of reciprocity by showing this…

Kai/ako/nga- with “ako” in the middle and Kai”ako”-teacher and “ako”nga-student… which was cool as I had not really seen this before.

The importance of community is another important aspect of whanaungatanga at HPSS. All three communities headed off on an exploration of who they are on Thursday and Waiarohia- who is the community I lead took to the waters of the Waitemata Harbour. Screen shot 2016-02-14 at 10.30.27 AM

Here is some visuals of our exploration of Waiarohia and learning about our local iwi, Te Kawerau a Maki and Ngati Whatua o Kaiapara.

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In the afternoon we explored Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi). Looking at the importance of partnerships and aligning this to our school vision of powerful partnerships across everything that we do. Students lead these activities…

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Then onto connections with “whenua” in a bivouac team building activity, putting partnerships into action with hubs and coaches…

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I was also proud of the community when we received this email after our day of exploration…
Hi Sally,

Please see below some feedback from the master and the crew of Discovery 2 from your Harbour Cruise yesterday.
Not often we get comments like this from our Masters and Crew so please let your students know how much they were appreciated.
Just a little bit of feedback about the Hobsonville Point Secondary School charter today.

My crew and I were thoroughly impressed with the way the students conducted themselves onboard this morning. All very pleasant and polite.
It appeared they all enjoyed their time with us today. As much perhaps as I did learning more about the Hobsonville area whilst listening in on the commentary.

Please extend my thanks. Not all school groups are as good to deal with!


I feel proud to be a part of everything happening at HPSS, when you see the “relationships and whanaungatanga” in action it is truly special. This was highlighted at the Whanau picnic, held with and at the Hobsonville Point Primary School, where the conversations with whānau showed how important this time was, that these relationship building aspects are a huge part of our vision in action. Even though it can be quite a full on time for all involved, I believe this is hugely important in walking the talk and bringing students (old and new), staff (old and new) and whānau (old and new) along on our journey. Then also as the whakatauki spoke to at the top, we can start to merge the connections between “whare/home” and “kura/school” and the school community “whānau”.

Tangata ako ana i te whare, te turanga ki te marae, tau ana
A person who is taught at home, will stand collected on the Marae (meeting house grounds)

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