Te Nīkau™

Te Nīkau™ framework was developed by life-long educationalist, Cath Rau and underpins the approach to services and projects undertaken by Kia Ata Mai Educational Trust. Te Nīkau™ is an important reference point for ensuring that programmes developed by Kia Ata Mai keep the ākonga at the forefront and takes a strengths-based approach to learning.

The nīkau palm serves as a metaphor for the ākonga or student.


Te Nīkau™ Framework
Nīkau CharacteristicsApplication to the ākonga or student
Te ahurei
The nīkau is the only palm indigenous to Aotearoa
This speaks to the uniqueness, distinctiveness and indigeneity of the ākonga. It also represents the importance of culture, te reo Māori and identity.
Ngā rawa
Source of food, shelter and materials
This reminds us that ākonga have many resources and approaches available to them and sometimes judicious selections are required to maximise their opportunities for learning.
Te urupuia
Often found growing in groves
This reflects the desire of the ākonga to be part of a caring community and represents the responsibility of the community to ‘nurture and care’ for the ākonga
Te kāhiwi
The trunk, and the bands or scars on the trunk left as the nīkau grows and sheds leaves
The bands represent whakapapa, acknowledging that ākonga have inherited gifts, talent, characteristics and qualities. The bands also represent the developmental phases of the ākonga as well as their past experiences and how these have contributed to and shaped the ākonga. The connection to Papatūānuku represents conditions or resources necessary for growth and development.
Te kōpuku
The crown shaft - the bulbous form from which the leaves emerge
The crown shaft is a representation of significant people, groups, organisations (kaiako, friends, etc. with whānau at the core as the constant) who shape the learning and life experiences of the ākonga. Some of these individuals and groups have a temporary influence on the ākonga and move out of the ākonga’s sphere of influence over time, much like the outer leaves as they separate and drop off the palm.
Ngā tētē, ngā rau
The fronds/leaves
The fronds represent the many facets of the ākonga including his/her disposition, interests passions, talents learning styles etc. Many of these overlap and are ‘fused’ as can be seen in the lattice type arrangement of nīkau foliage.
Ngā hua
The fruit/berries
Ngā hua indicates overall ‘health’ of the ākonga (ā hinengaro, ā tinana, ā wairua). The fruit of the nīkau also contributes nourishment to the wider ecosystem. A flourishing ākonga becomes a confident contributor to the community, fulfilling the ultimate purpose of education.