Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

You are here:

Students as leaders

Negative stereotyping and a culture of mocking can be positively transformed by providing opportunities for Pasifika students to learn and grow their leadership potential, take ownership of their own development and be celebrated as achievers.


Key content

Negative social interactions between students directly interfere with learning. National achievement outcomes data shows high levels of bullying and verbal intimidation in New Zealand schools by international comparison. A cultural practice of community-building in schools, where leadership opportunities and rewards are available to Pasifika students of all ages and stages, can help them to enjoy success and be secure in their Pasifika identity, distinctiveness and potential. This means that Pasifika learners have a voice in working with others to determine successful educational pathways. They see themselves as capable learners, enjoy the respect of others and have the confidence and motivation to participate in and contribute to communities within and beyond New Zealand.

“Leadership opportunities go right through the school, right down to the lower levels. So for instance, in year 9, I take some students out to be ambassadors for the school when I visit feeder schools.” 
(Anne Miles, Principal, McAuley High School)


Thanks to the principals, staff and students of Aorere College, McAuley High School, Mangere Bridge School, Sylvia Park School, Mary MacKillop School and Wymondley Road Primary School for their contributions.

Things to think about

  • Do you know what your Pasifika students want to get out of their experience at school? Have you asked them? How do you help to prepare them for the future?
  • What do past students tell you about what they needed to experience and learn at school?
  • Is there a ‘culture of mocking’ in your school that has a negative impact on the achievement of your Pasifika students? How do you know? Do you need to transform the culture into one that impacts on them more positively? If so, how would you go about this transformation?
  • What does your school do that helps build the self-esteem of your Pasifika learners? What do you contribute? Could you do more?
  • Do you believe that the Pasifika students in your school are secure in their identity as Pasifika? How do you know? If you don’t know, how would you find out?
  • What is the level of Pasifika student involvement in students’ leadership positions and reward systems in your school? Has this involvement increased over time? Could it be improved?


I want to take this school and put it anywhere in New Zealand and have just as strong leadership, just as high expectations, any school, anywhere and just as much rights for our parents and our children. So when we do leadership we look at fantastic leadership for our kids. We felt at this school that some of our students had a culture of bringing people down, not to put yourselves out there as someone who is successful and we wanted to change that. So we’re promoting leading and make it seen as the right thing to do. And the kids have caught on. The mocking has gone from the school and that use to be something humorous, but it wasn’t. So we’ve promoted leadership. You would have seen school leaders, house leaders, our assemblies are run by the children, our student lead conferences are run by the students, powhiris, - students, so we put the students up there and we help support them to be confident and to talk articulately.

Maragaret - student
My role here at Mary MacKillop school is a school leader.

Lisa – student
I’m Year 8 in Room 33 and I’m a house captain for 2010.

Malia - student
I’m a house captain here at Mary MacKillop school.

Syrai - student
I’m in Year 8 and I’m a school leader for 2010.

Glen Ryan - Principal
Often in school there’s separate silos, the Years 3 and 4s don’t talk to the 7/8s, so we set up it up so there’s a leader in each of those areas. One of my roles, or key role, is to develop those leaders, so they talk to each other, they share information so the information is flowing through the school, it doesn’t just stop in one area and then the child moves on, so developing strong leaders within the school has been top priority for us.

Anne Miles – Principal
We hope that every single Year 13 student sees herself as a leader, but leadership opportunities go right through the school, right down to the lower levels. So for instance in Year 9, I take some students out to be ambassadors for the school and I visit feeder schools. We have our class captains, we have members of the student council, everywhere where the students have a voice to be able to talk about what they’re doing. But it’s also an opportunity for them to develop leadership skills and to feel valued and proud of themselves and it carries right through Year 10, 11, Year 12s are constantly being fed that information – you are next year’s leaders, you need to take that role within the school, and so they have the different uniform in Year 12 and 13, acknowledging the level of leadership that is expected from them. Each student is encouraged to take ownership of their own development and that’s what our goal is, managing self so leadership of yourself, leadership of your peer group, leadership as example of the school.

Mele - student
As Year 13s we offer our knowledge to the younger ones and we kind of build that kind of relationship so our teachers teach us and we teach the rest of the girls.