The following is a compilation of our distinctive points of difference

  • All taiohi have an ITLP opposed to a timetable

  • The system fits the taiohi. Learning is the constant and time is the variable.

  • Taiohi are at different points of their learning with different aspirations and interests

  • Focus is on the whole person: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual

  • Kaitiaki are collectively responsible for learning and well-being of tauira

  • The focus for all tauira is aimed towards a Career Aspiration Plan and Exit Strategy

  • Whānau, mentors, experts are welcome in the ‘learning place’

  • Taiohi engage in project-based learning

  • Tai Wānanga utilises multiple ‘spaces and places’ of learning. The community offers many spaces and places of learning

  • Learning opportunities are open to all taiohi. Options include University Entrance (NCEA), Trades, relevant qualifications offered by tertiary institutions or industry, industry or career workplace experience

  • Technologies integral to learning for all taiohi



Our Definition:

The curriculum is all experiences – structured and formal, and unstructured and informal that contributes to the personal growth and development of each student.

Tai Wānanga is committed to a holistic approach to curriculum delivery that 

  • fosters the development and well being of the whole person – mental, physical, social/emotional and cultural/spiritual.

  • is non-linear and non-age related, as far as possible, inter-disciplinary so that students are able to make connections and make sense of their world

  • reflects the ethos, values and principles of Tai Wānanga

  • places students at the centre and provides learning that is deep, authentic, relevant to students’ lives, interests and aspirations

  • utilises knowledge and expertise from a wide range of sources including through the latest Information Communication Technologies

  • places teaching staff as facilitators, coaches and mentors rather than as knowledge experts

  • demonstrates high expectations for achievement and the setting of challenging targets for students

  • develops students who are self-motivating and self-directed learners, confident in their own culture and who possess the skills, knowledge, creativity and values necessary for success beyond schooling

  • creates opportunities to recognise and celebrate achievement in all its forms



The cornerstone of Tai Wānanga philosophy on curriculum is Individual Tailored Learning Plan (ITLP). Needs, strengths, interests and aspirations, and the setting of goals for learning and personal growth determine the core curriculum for each student.


  1. The Career Development Plan provides opportunities for exploration of the world of careers, gaining a sense of their aspirations for their futures.

  2. The Exit Strategy involves the setting of clear and firm goals for the achievement of those aspirations.

An important part of the ITLP approach is also providing opportunities for students to regularly revisit and review their aspirations, targets and goals.
A range of learning experiences such as visits and visits by experts and role models will also help students to begin the process of identifying their strengths and areas of interest for learning.

Individual Learning Plans will include the full range of learning experiences in which each student will be engaged over a fixed period, both as an individual and as part of a group or groups. Learning elements may include interest related project-based learning linked to specific credits that will contribute to achieving their learning goals.

  • Tai Wānanga will enter into a wide range of collaborative partnerships to allow a wealth of learning opportunities for its students.

  • Students will be encouraged to access a wide range of sources of knowledge and expertise to assist them in their learning and growth, and the achievement of their personal goals. These will include visits, visitors, and interviews with experts, mentors, work exploration and internships, community service and utilization of Information Communication Technologies. Learning connections will be local, national and global.

  • The curriculum will also include group activities that will contribute to the student’s physical, social/emotional and cultural/ spiritual growth. These will include conditioning, eating food together, Tikanga Māori, community and cultural activities.



‘All taiohi receive an ITLP opposed to a timetable’

An ITLP is a learning development plan designed to include desired learning experiences based on career aspiration, strengths, interests and goals. It is increasingly recognised as the way of the future, as the way education needs to go if young people are to develop the knowledge, skills, values they need to be successful in our complex and rapidly changing world.


ITLP is about bringing “Life to Learning”, about creating an environment in which students are motivated by learning, and in which learning has meaning and value.


ITLP is about student-centred learning, in which the what, the how and the when of learning is determined by the strengths, interests and aspirations of students, and where they are at in their learning and personal development. It is about one student at a time.


ITLP is about holistic/inter-disciplinary learning, making connections, making sense of the world in which students live, and will live, their lives.


ITLP is about the development of the whole person; it brings together all those learning experiences that lead to learning in the broader sense; it helps to give “Purpose to Life”.


ITLP is about rich, authentic, and motivational learning experiences.


ITLP is about creating an environment for students in which the four basic needs we all have as human beings are met:


  1. Belonging or Connecting: which comes out of being able to develop caring, and mutually respectful and co-operative relationships with fellow students and adults.

  2. Power or Competence: which comes out of students being internally motivated to develop achievement and mastery, recognised for their achievements, involved in decisions that impact on their lives, and self-responsible.

  3. Freedom: which comes out of students having the choice to master new skills, to evolve, adapt and thrive in ways that are respectful of others.

  4. Fun: which comes out of students enjoying learning, and having a sense of discovery which then leads to learning that is deeper and stronger.


ITLP is about recognising different stages in the development of students:


  • The Career Development Plan provides opportunities for exploration of the world of opportunities, gaining a sense of their aspirations for their futures.

  • The Exit Strategy involves the setting of clear and firm goals for the achievement of those aspirations.


Each of these stages includes the setting of personal as well as ‘learning’ goals. Each student has a personal ‘timetable’ or Work Plan that can include individual goals, individual or group tasks and activities, projects, or elements of specific programs. Plans cover a week or a fortnight at a time; progress is monitored and ‘signed off’ at the end of each time period. Students are guided on how to refer to and to build/internalise standards and quality into their learning, and how to gain credits to NCEA and/or other qualifications.


Each student [in groups of 10-15] are guided, coached and mentored through these stages by one Kaitiaki. Each student and each group has his or her own space. Each ‘advisory’ is made up of students across the age range. Students are encouraged to support each other and take leadership roles within the group and the wider whānau. Students remain in the same group with the same Kaitiaki while they are at Tai Wānanga.


Student learning in groups or as individuals is supported by a range of people, resources and experiences: their peers, whānau, community, IT, other Kaitiaki, external experts and mentors, their own research and inquiry, visits, community service, ‘field studies’, internships, work exploration and experience, etc. Learning groups are flexible and not confined to the ‘advisory’. Students come together out of common interests, strengths, and aspirations.  


Students will be at different stages in their learning and personal development.  Some will spend more time in the ‘first stage’, others will be very clear on their aspirations and into their exit strategy. Where they are at as individuals are not determined by age, nor is their learning limited by age.


The traditional learning environment is a highly structured ‘mass production line’.  ITLP is also highly structured but is focused on the individual.  To work it needs highly skilled and motivated Kaitiaki who have a passion for the power of learning [bringing “life to learning and purpose to life”], are willing and able to give up ‘old ways’, are intelligent [i.e. see the world in an interconnected way], have strong communication and relationship-building skills, have a sense of humour and above all else a love for children as individual human identities.  They will need to be team players that share responsibility for the learning, in its broadest sense, of all students. It is the collective, not just the individual, skills that will count.



Kaitiaki have a critical role in ensuring the success of the Tai Wānanga educational model.


In Tai Wānanga, the learning process is overseen by kaitiaki. Their role is to support, encourage, motivate and assist a group of students to engage in learning that is reflective of the strengths, interests, needs and aspirations of the individual involved.   Each student has an ITLP, aligned to the individual, tailored, learning approach practised by Tai Wānanga.  Kaitiaki assist students to develop ITLP and are also responsible for regularly monitoring progress, assisting with evaluation and for reviewing and where necessary revising the learning objectives involved.


Kaitiaki are not expected to limit their contribution just to fields of learning for which they have specialist skills and qualifications.  While they will often have important contributions to make associated with these fields, they are also expected to facilitate learning in other areas.  Much of the learning at Tai Wānanga involves learning experiences that incorporate aspects of more than one subject.  Such project-based learning (PBL) requires a Kaitiaki to apply their skills and capabilities beyond their specialist field, should they have one.


Kaitiaki are also encouraged to recognise the potential of others to contribute to the learning experience of the students.  Tai Wānanga promotes the view that learning occurs all the time, in many different locations and circumstances, not just at school within a classroom.  Accordingly, taking students out of school to specific locations appropriate to their particular learning activity is considered acceptable practice at Tai Wānanga.  Similarly, the contributions of community members, whānau, mentors and experts in their field are welcomed and appreciated and considered to enhance the learning experience of the students.  Kaitiaki have an important role in sourcing these out of school learning locations and in identifying suitable learning contributors and in assisting and supporting them during their engagement with the students.

In the process of fulfilling their role, Kaitiaki also assume collective responsibility for the health and well being of the students during their time at Tai Wānanga.  They are expected to be mindful of such factors in their engagement with students and to provide appropriate support, advice, and guidance where necessary.


While the role of Kaitiaki is often demanding, it is also extremely fulfilling and satisfying and the rewards are many and varied. Kaitiaki are able to make a significant difference in the lives of young people.



PBL’s are strongly linked to and support Tai Wānanga vision and values.


“Giving Life to Learning and Purpose to Life”.


PBL’s are a chance for you to decide what you will learn, set learning goals and objectives and plan your own learning to meet those goals. You will develop a meaningful project with the community so that you are able to share what you have learned and makes a difference.

Before you begin your project you must diligently spend time planning and writing your proposal. Your proposal is important because this is used to decide whether your project has enough potential for learning and for a high-quality product.


The simplest way to explain the PBL proccess is the following term;

“The 5P’s of PBL”

PLAN – Proposal. What is the need, issue or opportunity?

PITCH - Proposal. What is the big idea? Share objectives and plan.

PRODUCE Produce 'the big idea'. Accessing support, resources and information.

PRESENT - Present and evaluate project findings.


PASSION – Concept. What is my passion? This will drive your project.

PBL is a learning approach built upon authentic learning that engages student interest and motivation. These activities are designed to answer a driving question or solve a problem and generally reflect the types of learning and work people do in the everyday world outside the classroom.

  • PBL is synonymous with learning in depth. A well-designed project provokes students to encounter (and struggle with) the central concepts and principles of a discipline.

  • PBL teaches 21st century skills as well as content. These skills include communication and presentation skills, organisation and time management skills, research and inquiry skills, self-assessment and reflection skills, and group participation and leadership skills

  • PBL is generally done by groups of students working towards a common goal. Performance is assessed on an individual basis and takes into account the quality of the product produced, the depth of content understanding demonstrated, and the contributions made to the on-going process of project realisation

  • PBL allows students to reflect upon their own ideas and opinions, exercise voice and choice, and make decisions that affect project outcomes and the learning process in general

“Where Passion, Purpose and Perspiration meet.”