Purpose of He Pikorua

He Pikorua is the practice framework for Ministry and RTLB learning support practitioners


He Pikorua brings learning support practitioners together alongside whānau and educators to support the learning and well-being of mokopuna.


He Pikorua aims to support practitioners to work effectively and collaboratively within the Learning Support Delivery Model . The framework is flexible, so that support can be based on what best meets the needs of the mokopuna and their whānau in their local learning and community environments.

He Pikorua builds on current principles and evidence-informed practices, while recognising that:

  • practice continues to evolve
  • the people in learning support services have a diverse range of background knowledge, experience, skills and professional expertise.

He Pikorua links to key information and guidance that is specific to specialist practice roles. 

‘Pikorua’ refers to the strength of relationships on our pathway through life. The project team chose this concept to represent our new framework and how we work together – practitioners working alongside whānau and educators to support the learning and well-being of mokopuna.


He Pikorua aims to:

  • provide clear, consistent, practical guidance
  • enable mokopuna to flourish
  • support our competencies, standards, and codes
  • strengthen how we work together
  • build on our strengths
  • provide an enduring resource.


Provide clear, consistent, practical guidance

He Pikorua is informed by evidence, and provides guidance for practitioners across all learning support areas. It allows us to make sound decisions about learning support services at a local learning community level to meet the needs of mokopuna, whānau and educators. This helps us work with confidence as individuals, and with the collective knowledge, energy and support of others, so mokopuna and their learning communities can grow and flourish.


Support our competencies, standards and codes

He Pikorua draws together all that we share in our roles as practitioners:

  • specific organisational guidance
  • standards
  • cultural competencies
  • discipline-related ethical competencies
  • codes
  • our national curricula.

He Pikorua includes practices and expertise that are common across all areas of learning support services. You can use it for practice, reflection and review, at an individual or group level.


Strengthen how we work together, and build on our strengths

We are more effective when we work together as practitioners, with educators and whānau. A project team of RTLB and Ministry staff co-designed this practice framework to better align our practices, and strengthen how we work together as practitioners of learning support services. The result is a connected way of working that is inclusive, culturally affirming, empowering and consistent in practice.

He Pikorua takes the best of what we know works, and builds on our strengths (our knowledge and skills) and how we work together. It helps us to use our expertise and judgement to decide what to do and how best to do it, and to respond confidently to the needs and challenges of learners, their whānau and educators.


Provide an enduring resource

He Pikorua is designed for continuous improvement. It aims to be a living resource that is fresh, current and useful:

  • informed and shaped by ongoing learning
  • reflecting the knowledge, lived experiences, cultures and practice of all our practitioners, educators and whānau.

We will update and refresh core content, resources, links and examples as required.


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Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari ko te toa takitini.

I come not with my own strengths but bring with me the gifts, talents and strengths of my family, tribe and ancestors.


He Pikorua is designed to provide mokopuna, whānau and learning communities with a common experience of learning support practitioners as a culturally responsive team of professionals, driven by agreed values.

Vision for He Pikorua

The vision for He Pikorua is to support practitioners to enable mokopuna and whānau to achieve the best outcomes in any learning setting.

As professionals we enhance the learning outcomes and well-being of mokopuna by:

  • keeping mokopuna and their whānau at the centre of everything we do
  • focussing on strengths and potential, to enhance the mana of the individual and their community
  • respecting and building on the diversity of expertise and knowledge across our teams
  • using evidence-informed strategies that are appropriate to the context
  • using a tiered system approach to our work, which focuses on strengthening adult capability.
Girl student sitting in class, looking forward


He Pikorua is shaped by the voices of our mokopuna and whānau, the Māori, Pacific, and ethnic communities, and the Ministry’s plan and model for learning support

“We have a role in both shaping the education system and delivering service to achieve equitable and excellent outcomes. He mea tārai e mātou te mātauranga kia rangatira ai, kia mana taurite ai ōna huanga.”

Iona Holsted, Secretary for Education (Ministry of Education Annual Report, 2019)


Hāpaitia te ara tika pūmau ai te rangatiratanga mō ngā uri whakatipu.


New Zealand is committed to an inclusive education system that supports the progress and achievement of all mokopuna, including those who need additional support to learn. To achieve this purpose requires collaboration – we need to draw together all of the expertise and resources from across the system. We need to think differently about what effective support means for learners and whānau, so everyone across the whole system is working to respond to the needs of their local learners, whānau and community.


Ministry of Education - Statement of Intent


Foster the pathway of knowledge to strength, independence and growth for future generations. 

“Make sure all kids of different learning abilities are learning in a comfortable environment and have all the tools and encouragement they need to achieve their personal best.”

(Mokopuna in the 5-12 years age group, Kōrero Mātauranga)

Learning Support Action Plan


The Ministry’s Learning Support Action Plan sets clear priorities for investment and further developments to meet the learning support needs of mokopuna and their whānau. The plan addresses feedback that said we need to improve how we deliver learning support. This feedback included comments from the 2016 Select Committee Inquiry into Identification and Support for Students with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism Spectrum Disorders, and from the 2018 Kōrero Mātauranga Education Conversation

How it works

The Learning Support Action Plan sets out six priority areas for 2019–2025. These are the priorities that will make the biggest difference to strengthening learning support. Each priority is expected to have widespread benefits. Each will also make specific improvements for mokopuna including those who are neurodiverse, gifted, or at risk of disengaging from education. The plan focuses on identifying barriers to learning early, and providing the right support at the right time for each mokopuna. Techniques include screening, early intervention, strengthening the confidence and capability of educators, and providing the resources and guidance they need to assist mokopuna to learn.

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Learning Support Delivery Model


The Ministry’s Learning Support Delivery Model aims to strengthen how we provide learning support so all mokopuna get the right support, in the right place, at the right time. The model organises learning support based on what best meets the needs of local mokopuna and their whānau. This includes support for learners with moderate needs, such as those who are neurodiverse, gifted, or at risk of disengaging from education. The model makes support flexible and joined-up, and tailored around the needs of learners. Learning support values the contribution of whānau and reflects their identity, language and culture. New Learning Support Coordinator roles will build on the Learning Support Delivery Model.

How it works

This new way of working gives local communities more flexibility to meet the particular needs of mokopuna in their area. Clusters of local schools, Māori medium kura, early learning services and Kōhanga Reo come together in a way that best fits their community. Each cluster looks for flexible ways to respond to needs that build on existing good practice. Clusters include whānau in decisions to make sure that support works for whānau and their mokopuna.

Learning Support Coordinators, based in clusters of schools, work with the Ministry and other agencies and providers to identify local needs for learning support needs. Coordinators identify available resources. Resources include those provided by the Ministry, RTLB, other government agencies, iwi, and service providers.

The Ministry provides a learning support facilitator to:

  • support and promote joint decision-making and planning
  • make sure the right people are brought together
  • broker access for the cluster to all available supports and services in the area, including practitioners, and other agencies and service providers.

The Learning Support Delivery Model emphasises having a single plan that is the primary reference for the mokopuna, whānau, educators and practitioners. Having a single plan reduces the need for whānau to tell their story over and over to different schools, teachers, specialists and agencies. The plan is a clear record of:

  • what needs to change in the life of the mokopuna and why
  • what will be done to achieve that, by whom, and when.

Kōrero Mātauranga


In 2018, Education Minister Chris Hipkins called on New Zealanders to help develop a common vision for education and learning for the future.

  • As part of Kōrero Mātauranga, more than 43,000 New Zealanders have had a say about what they wanted in their education system. We heard an array of diverse views from a variety of people and groups including:
  • Māori
  • Pacific people
  • Mokopuna
  • Whānau
  • educators
  • people with disabilities and learning support needs
  • community groups

The views captured can be found in a series of reports that continue to inform how we shape our education system and learning support.


Voice of mokopuna

“Learning support so that students can get the help they need at the time they need it. So in the future those small problems don't affect their job and their life.”

(Mokopuna in the 13–18 years age group, Kōrero Mātauranga)

1,935 mokopuna aged 5–18 gave their views as part of the Kōrero Mātauranga. These views included the following main points.

  • Building a more accepting and knowledgeable society through greater cultural representation and diversity in education, and a better understanding of Māori and multiculturalism in New Zealand.

“He akonga ka mohio ana, ka ngakaunui ana ki nga ahurei maha. He akonga mohio ana ki tona ake whakapapa, ahakoa no hea, ko wai.”

“A student who knows and is passionate about different cultures. A student who knows their own whakapapa, irrespective of where they come from and who they are”

(Mokopuna in the 13-18 years age group, Kōrero Mātauranga)

  • Making sure the education system meets the needs of different learners, and that mokopuna with learning needs outside the mainstream are able to receive the support and resources they need.
  • Recognising that educators are integral to providing an individualised and student-focused education.
  • Making well-being, including mental and physical health, a priority. Mokopuna want more support and awareness of student well-being from the education system, their educators, whānau and community.
  • Having access to high-quality education for all, regardless of socio-economic status.
Voice of our Māori whānau and communities

“The deficit focus is wrong, we need to focus on strengths and talents.”

  • Māori want tino rangatiratanga – agency and authority – over educating Māori learners. A genuine partnership approach is needed across the education system, with leaders who believe in Māori and understand te ao Māori.
  • Racism and bias continue to impact Māori learner confidence, achievement, and outcomes.
  • A sense of belonging is crucial for Māori to succeed as Māori. Teaching and learning need to better reflect and foster Māori identity, language, culture and values in all their diversity.
  • We need to engage Māori learners in the context of their whānau.
  • We need to work towards a bilingual New Zealand. Te reo Māori must be revitalised and normalised.
  • Education needs to support the holistic well-being of mokopuna and their whānau with physically, culturally, emotionally, and spiritually safe environments.
  • Māori thrive in Māori medium education settings. Access to Māori medium pathways across sectors needs to be improved.
  • We need a workforce that is represents and responds to Māori. Māori staff need better support and recognition. We need more Māori educators and professionals, particularly in te reo Māori, learning support and social services.
Voice of our Pacific communities

“Issues of language, culture and identity are always tied up with issue of power and control by mainstream Pakeha/Palangi NZ. We are very tired of Pakeha ‘thinking they know best what is good for our children’ End it now…” (Pacific grandparent)

  • The cultural values of diverse Pacific people need to be more strongly reflected in the education system.
  • Pacific learners need to be taught in diverse, supportive, safe, responsive and stimulating learning environments. To learn effectively, Pacific learners need an inclusive environment that supports their learning, and where they feel valued, accepted and safe.
  • Student safety and well-being are important to Pacific learners and families, as are measures to eliminate bullying and racism in the education system.
  • Pacific students’ well-being suffers when high workloads cause stress. Our Pacific communities called for mental health support services.

Pacific people want:

  • conditions for teachers improved through higher salaries; better support; and reduced workloads and student/teacher ratios so they can spend more time with students.
  • teacher training and tertiary training institutions to be reviewed to ensure quality teacher training.
  • teachers to have professional development in cultural competency
  • teachers to have professional development in helping learners who have disabilities and learning support needs
  • teachers to have opportunities for professional development to ensure their teaching styles meet modern standards.
Voice of our ethnic communities

“New Zealand is thus a multicultural society. The recognition and preservation of one's culture is essential to the sense of self-worth.”

  • Whānau want more involvement in education and to grow their understanding of New Zealand education.
  • Identity, language and culture should be better valued in schools. Many passionate educators are great and they should be recognised.
  • Teaching practices should more consistently support mokopuna to feel safe and valued as individuals.
  • Improving access to different pathways and transitions through the education system would help mokopuna thrive.
  • Bias and racism exist and are harmful to both mokopuna and whānau.
  • Well-being depends on being accepted as kiwis and feeling supported.
  • Community-based organisations are doing excellent work with whānau, and schools could tap into this expertise.
  • Priorities should include meaningful employment, less conflict, and better support for physical and mental health.
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