Friday, March 8, 2013

Do we need leaders?


One of the ongoing goals of education in New Zealand is raising Maori student achievement. There is a lot of discussion about this in schools, especially when an ERO visit is looming. One of the questions that all this discussion has raised for me, is whether we have enough leadership where this issue is concerned. 

In my mind, a leader is someone who drives a particular group to achieve goals in line with a common purpose or value. A leader is someone who communicates well, works harder than those they lead and measures every decisions against the purpose and values of the group they are leading. As a nation, do we have a leader to look to where Maori student achievement is concerned? In your school, do you have a person that has specific, concrete goals for you to work towards that will allow you to realise the vision of raised Maori student achievement? 

Perhaps I have not searched hard or far enough to find a leader in this field that inspires respect through their vision, relationships and knowledge. Perhaps I need to look harder or perhaps we need to look at developing better leaders in this area. 


A leader is a sheltering rata tree. This means:

  • dedicating one’s life for the good of all the people
  • ensuring stability for the people
  • encouraging confidence about the future
  • standing tall at all times regardless of the challenges
  • being a person who cares about people.

A leader is a totara tree standing tall in the forest. This means:

  • standing tall as a leader
  • presenting oneself as a leader
  • dressing up rather than down
  • being a source of pride for the people because of skills and appearance
  • never sacrificing the people for personal gain.

A leader is a rock that is dashed by the waves of the sea. This means:

  • being steadfast and strong
  • being fully committed
  • going the extra mile and burning the midnight oil when required
  • being able to handle difficult situations and endure a fair bit of stress.

A leader is a waka (canoe). This means:

  • ensuring essential services are maintained
  • ensuring that the status of the community is such that the people can feel proud to belong
  • ensuring that the whole whanau, hapu or iwi is functional and able to hold their own against or in comparison with others
  • ensuring that the symbols and icons of the group are respected, maintained and enhanced.


from Hohepa, M. P., & Robinson, V.  (2008). Māori and educational leadership: Tu RangatiraAlterNATIVE, 4(2), 20-38.