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Te Atakura


At UCOL, we know that students learn best when they have great support from dedicated teachers who understand their individual strengths and help them develop new ones. Above all else we value the relationships between learners and teachers.

UCOL is focussed on providing the best all-around educational experience for all students. This includes experiences outside the classroom such as extra curricular activities and employment outcomes.

We use a relationship-based teaching and learning approach across our programmes at all campuses – Te Atakura – which is enhancing educational and employment outcomes especially for Māori learners.

As a name, 'Te Atakura' is taken from the waiata whakataka te hau, referring to a certain time/phase of the dawn which for Māori symbolises a new day, a new start and a time of opportunity.

The principle behind Te Atakura is that relationships matter! Te Atakura focuses on the importance of relationships at all levels of the institution in bringing about student success. Our students and graduates go on to use these approaches themselves in their work experience and employment.

Through Te Atakura teaching and learning approaches, UCOL teachers/kaiako develop their professional practice by firmly placing students/tauira, who they are and what they bring, at the centre of a relationship-based learning environment with Manaakitanga (support and respect). 

Day to day, UCOL's Te Atakura Coaches support our kaiako to adopt a practical approach to ako (teaching and learning), centred on creating whanaungatanga (a family-like setting in learning situations).

With Te Atakura in place at UCOL, there is a sense of kotahitanga (unity and shared purpose) about the place. Tauira and kaiako share an understanding of what is required for successful completion of study, and both know that success is the priority. Wānanga (rich, dynamic sharing of knowledge) is encouraged and mana motuhake (high expectations) exist and are encouraged. Class identities are created and tauira are challenged to do their best.

Sound good? We think so. Te Atakura gives us new places to look for answers, new ways to evaluate information, and new classroom practices; our story is just beginning.



Te Atakura was developed with the support of education consultancy Cognition Education Limited (Culture Counts Plus) and Emeritus Professor Russell Bishop. It is modelled on Te Kotahitanga – a collaborative response to improving the educational achievement of Māori students in mainstream schools, developed by Waikato University Associate Professor Mere Berryman and Russell Bishop, using his research.

Te Kotahitanga is now working in 49 secondary schools, and findings from the programme have shown increases in student success. It resulted in the establishment of an 'Effective Teacher Profile', which now underpins UCOL's programme, Te Atakura.

UCOL is the first to employ Russell Bishop's research in a tertiary education setting.