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Te Tiriti o te Akomanga | The Classroom Treaty

Te Tiriti o te Akomanga | The Classroom Treaty

Storyline / Kiko

In this story, a teacher and students negotiate some rules for the classroom at the beginning of the school year. The analogy is made with the Treaty of Waitangi – in terms of a binding contract.

Achievement objectives / Whāinga paetae 

Students should be able to:

  • 1.3 communicate about numbers
  • 4.3 communicate about obligations and responsibilities

Te Aho Arataki Marau mō te Ako i Te Reo Māori – Kura Auraki

Learning context / Kaupapa 

This story relates to the topic of Ngā Hākari/Celebrations (Unit 7) in He Reo Tupu He Reo Ora.

Assessment / Aromatawai

The learning intentions and success criteria below will help determine students’ progress.

The format of the rubrics is similar to that in He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora, allowing for student self-assessment, as well as assessment by:

  • other students (tuākana and tēina)
  • teachers
  • whānau (as a way of engaging families and promoting a partnership between home and school).

The three tohu/symbols in the rubrics indicate different steps of learning, as depicted in this poutama pattern.


poutama pattern

Proverb / Whakataukī

Te Tiriti – hei whakapai i ngā nawe maha.

The Treaty – a way of addressing many wrongs.

(adapted from a song in Kiwi Kidsongs Waiata 15, by Hirini Melbourne)

Cultural knowledge / Tikanga

The Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document, which is written in Māori and English, was signed by 540 chiefs/rangatira and the British Crown.

It was a document that had been hastily prepared in English, in just a few days, then translated overnight into Māori by missionary Henry Williams. It is therefore unsurprising that there are important differences between the English and Māori versions, – particularly relating to the words kāwanatanga, taonga, and tino rangatiratanga. 

Most of the chiefs signed the Māori version. International law dictates that if there are discrepancies between English and native language texts, the native language text takes precedence over the English.

The Māori word for a contract is kirimana. It has been suggested that this word derives from kiri meaning skin and mana meaning legal or binding – emanating from the Treaty of Waitangi where some chiefs used the representation of the tā moko on their skin as their signature.

Pre-reading / I mua atu

Before reading the story, talk with students to discover:

  • their previous experiences in relation to the picture on the front cover, as well as their knowledge about contracts and the Treaty
  • their prior knowledge of relevant vocabulary, language structures, and Māori concepts.

Flashcards / Whakaahua

You could create flashcards to show images of the following content words:

kaiako – teacher 

Tiriti o Waitangi – Treaty of Waitangi 

tamariki – children

akomanga – classroom

tuatahi, tuarua, tuatoru – first, second, third 

Other words / Ētahi atu kupu

Other words in the text include: 

tikanga – custom(s) or practice(s) or the correct way of doing things

mauri – essence, essential quality, special nature

hoihoi – noisy

tētahi – one, single

pātai – to question

whakahoki – to reply

āe – yes

Grammar / Wetereo

This story includes the following language structures:

  • Singular the (te) and plural the (ngā)
  • Ordinal numbers using the prefix tua – (as in the Treaty) – tuatahi (first)
  • Interrogative He aha? (What?)
  • Use of me to indicate a sense of obligation – me whakarongo (should listen)
  • The particle ka (before verbs), which can denote past, present, or future tense
  • Suffixes to create commands – tiaki + na = tiakina (look after); manaaki + tia = manaakitia (take care of).

Note: Students will be familiar with the latter in the NZ national anthem, e.g., Mana-a-kitia rā Aotearoa.

Follow-up / I muri mai 

Second language tasks/activities

Once students are familiar with the text, you can facilitate some of the second language tasks /activities below, working to your students’ strengths and interests. The aim is to extend their proficiency and use of te reo in meaningful contexts. 

While facilitating these tasks/activities, remember that you don’t have to be the expert. As conveyed in the Māori concept of ako, you may be in the position of being a learner alongside your students. In fact, some students may want to take the lead. Ka pai tēnā. Nō reira, kia kaha.

For general information on common task types, see He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora. Choose ‘Using tasks and activities’. 

Matching (listening or reading)

Students match selected pieces of oral or written text from the story to associated pictures showing, for example, characters, dances, or maps that are randomly sorted.

Tino hoihoi ngā tamariki (re picture of noisy children)

... ngā tikanga o te akomanga (re picture of handwritten classroom rules).


Students combine pieces of text from the reader to make phrases:

He aha ngā tikanga   +   o te akomanga?

tētahi ki   +   tētahi

Tino hoihoi   +   te kaiako

Ka whakahoki   +   ngā tamariki

te mauri    +   o te Tiriti

True/false (Kei te tika/Kei te hē (listening or reading)

Students make a judgement on whether a spoken or written statement about a picture in the book is true or false (kei te tika/kei te hē).

For example, for the picture of the noisy children in class, the teacher might say or write: Tino ngenge ngā tamariki.

If false, as above, the students must ‘make it right’ by providing the correct text that corresponds with the picture (Tino hoihoi ngā tamariki).

Multi-choice (listening or reading)

Give descriptions of a picture from the text, and students decide which description best applies. 

For example, to describe the picture of the teacher:

Ka moe te kaiako. The teacher sleeps.

Ka pātai te kaiako. The teacher asks.

Ka waiata te kaiako. The teacher sings.

Ka tuhi te kaiako. The teacher writes.

Strip story (reading)

Students sequence the following jumbled-up sentences from the reader:

Tuarua: Tiakina ngā taonga o te akomanga.

Āe rā.

Tuatahi: Me whakarongo tētahi ki tētahi.

Ka whakahoki ngā tamariki.

Tuatoru: Manaakitia tētahi ki tētahi.

Text adaptation/reversioning

Students negotiate their own tikanga for the classroom (or school or home) – and draw up a contract/kirimana.

Cloze activity

Create gaps in the written text for students to complete. A cloze is a good way to help students notice the grammar of te reo Māori, as well as improve their prediction skills and encourage them to make intelligent guesses from context and picture clues. For example:

Ka whakahoki ngā ____.

Me ____ tētahi ki tētahi.

Tiakina ngā ____.

Manaakitia ____ ki tētahi.

The gaps in a cloze can represent a consistent part of speech such as nouns or pronouns. Alternatively, words can be deleted at random, e.g., every third word.

Teachers can make a cloze exercise easier for students by:

  • telling them how many letters are in the missing word
  • providing the first letter
  • giving them a list of words to choose from.

A cloze task can be extended to incorporate listening and speaking, where you read a piece of text and stop at each missing word, so students can suggest an appropriate word to fill the gap.

Mini book

Print the mini-book template (with instructions) so every child in your class can take home a mini version of this story to read with whānau. 

Songs / Waiata

The following waiata will support the kaupapa of the reader: 

Waitangi te Tiriti (in Kiwi Kidsongs Waiata 15, by Hirini Melbourne) 


Waitangi te Tiriti,

he mea hanga e tauiwi

hei whāriki tikanga

mō te tangata whenua,

hei hoko mana kāwanatanga

me te mana noho whenua,

ka mau mai tonu ko te rangatiratanga,

ka mau mai tonu ko te rangatiratanga.


Waitangi te Tiriti

he mea hanga i neherā

he mea whiti e te rā,

he mea ua e te ua,

he mea kai e te ngāngara,

he mea tahu e te ahi -

ko ngā kupu mārama tonu,

ko te wairua e kore e ngaro. (×2)


Waitangi te Tiriti,

he taonga tuku iho

hei paihere tikanga,

hei whakaaraara manako,

hei patu i te ringa hao o te ture,

hei whakapai i ngä nawetanga

o Ranginui, o Papatuānuku,

o ngā iwi katoa o Aotearoa.

hei whakapai i ngā nawetanga


Waitangi te Tiriti,

he tiriki …

te tiriti.

Treaty of Waitangi

a thing built by foreigners

to lay down the rules/customs (a blanket for)

for the people of the land

buying the status of governorship

and the status of settlers (living on the land)

stay holding strong to chieftainship

stay holding strong to chieftainship.


Treaty of Waitangi

a thing built in days past

a thing shined on by the sun

a thing rained on by the rain

a thing eaten by insects (rodents)

a thing burned by fire –

the understanding of the words stays,

the spirit of it is not lost. (×2)


Treaty of Waitangi

a treasure passed down

to bind together (bundle) the customs/ways

beginning/leading to the hopes/desires

bringing in line the encircling hand of the law

a way to right the many wrongs

of (done to) Ranginui, of Papatuānuku

of all the peoples in New Zealand.

a way to right the many wrongs


Treaty of Waitangi

a trick …

the treaty.

E toru ngā mea (reversioned by the author of this story, to the tune of ‘E toru ngā mea’ – and found on the accompanying audio component).


E toru ngā mea, ngā mea nunui,

E kī ana te kirimana:



Ko te mea nui: mana-akitia!


(There are three things, important things, according to the contract: Listen, look after things, and most importantly care about each other!)

Using the big books in early childhood

In English-medium ECE settings, where Māori language is a natural part of the programme (as recommended in the Mana reo strand of Te Whāriki), the big books for Reo Tupu stories can be used for shared reading with tamariki. 

These stories will allow teachers to weave Māori language and culture into their everyday activities, demonstrating the value they place on te reo and tikanga Māori. This is especially important for enhancing identity, sense of belonging, and well-being. The audio component of the e-books will support teachers and tamariki to pronounce te reo Māori correctly. 

Stories / Pakiwaitara

The following stories are relevant to the kaupapa of this reader:

Grace, W. (2006). The Tree Hut Treaty. State Services Commission, Wellington: New Zealand – a bilingual publication that shows children in the neighbourhood coming up with their own ‘treaty’ to negotiate their use of a tree hut.

Holt, S. (2016). Te Wairua o Waitangi. Hamilton, New Zealand: The Writing Bug Ltd – a book aimed at helping children understand how they can honour the Treaty through respect for Māori culture and as kaitiaki of Papatūānuku.

Acknowledgements / He Mihi

The author would like to acknowledge the teachers she has worked with over the years, inspiring her to create these books. Ināianei kua mātātupu. Ka tuku mihi hoki ki te whānau Laison nō Taranaki me te whānau Takotohiwi nō Ngāti Awa, who nurtured her in te ao Māori; ko te tino koha tēnā.

She also acknowledges with fondness her Māori tutors during decades of learning, particularly Hirini Mead, Tamati Kruger, Wiremu Parker, Keri Kaa, and Ruka Broughton. Also her two non-Māori mentors and role models, Mary Boyce and Fran Hunia. All these people have added to her kete. Kua whetūrangitia ētahi engari kāore e warewaretia ō rātou mahi maha ki te akiaki i a ia. Hei whakamutunga, ka tuku mihi ki āna mokopuna me āna tama – te pū o ēnei pukapuka.