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Tapasā framework

This resource explores the Tapasā framework and ngā turu, the competencies, that describe behaviours and understandings at the different stages of the teaching journey.

A student focusing on work alongside a teacher.


  • AudienceKaiakoSchool leaders
  • Resource LanguageEnglish

About this resource

The Tapasā framework provides a guide for educators working with Pacific learners, aiming to enhance cultural knowledge and understanding of Pacific worldviews. Through three competencies known as turu, the framework focuses on recognising diverse identities, languages, and cultures (Turu 1), establishing collaborative and respectful relationships (Turu 2), and effective pedagogies for Pacific learners (Turu 3). 


Tapasā framework

The Tapasā framework is designed to guide and support you as you teach and lead Pacific learners, to strengthen your Pacific cultural knowledge, and to offer a deeper understanding of Pacific worldviews. 

You can, in turn, consider and integrate this knowledge into your teaching practices to enhance learning outcomes for Pacific learners. 

The structure of the framework allows you to identify your current knowledge base about Pacific pedagogies and to recognise areas that can be strengthened across three specific competencies (ngā turu). 

  • Turu 1: Identities, languages, and cultures 
  • Turu 2: Collaborative and respectful relationships and professional behaviours 
  • Turu 3: Effective pedagogies for Pacific learners 

Each turu (competency) is divided into the four stages of teachers’ learning journeys and uses a progressive range of indicators relating to cultural responsiveness that guide you through practices that will enhance the achievements of Pacific learners. The four stages are: student teacher, beginning teacher, experienced teacher, and leader. 

Tapasā lists indicators that describe the minimum expectations for each stage of your teaching journey. Within some of the competency indicators, you may have cultural knowledge of Pacific pedagogies at a deeper level than is expected at each stage. Within your teaching setting, you may be recognised as a leader within this competency and can therefore support and guide colleagues to develop and strengthen their knowledge and competence. Tapasā also includes a selection of scenarios and case studies to enable you to explore authentic examples of practice and to develop meaningful understandings of your own practices. 

Over time, you may transform your thinking, practices, and approaches by responding to each indicator and strengthening your cultural competence. The competency indicators are linked to the Code of Professional Responsibility, Standards for the Teaching Profession, and Tātaiako.

Turu: What does that mean?

The word "turu" is taken from Cook Island Māori language and is a general term for support, help, or brace.

In the Tapasā context, the word turu is used to describe a set of competencies, and the term ngā turu describes behaviours and understandings at the different stages of the teaching journey. While each turu is presented separately, in practice, ngā turu are interwoven and occur all at the same time in a learning activity. Ngā turu need to be considered together in order to demonstrate a change in thinking and practice. 


Demonstrate awareness of the diverse and ethnic-specific identities, languages, and cultures of Pacific learners. 

Turu 1 is about teachers’ knowing and understanding that the shared and ethnic-specific identities, languages, and cultures of Pacific learners underpin the way they think and learn, which is fundamental to their well-being and success. The motivations influencing their thinking and learning are manifested in the different ways they respond or similar ways they behave in different situations.  

Pacific learners, together with their parents and families, bring some of their own knowledge and awareness of identities, languages, and cultures, as well as strengths such as child-care practices, to early learning settings that teachers will need to use as a foundation to build on.  

Teachers who are confident in their own identity and distinctiveness will appreciate the distinctive and ethnic-specific identities, qualities, and contexts of each of their Pacific learners and will reflect this in their planning, teaching practice, and relational endeavours.

In practice, Turu 1 is about relational and united approaches to building a future for learners that is respectful of their past and background. For teachers, it is about effectively teaching the curriculum that enables Pacific learners to be successful and achieve.

Establishes and maintains collaborative and respectful relationships and professional behaviours that enhance learning and wellbeing for Pacific learners. 

Turu 2 represents the importance of strong, reciprocal, responsive, and collaborative relationships, partnerships, and engagement between the teacher, early learning service, or school and the learner, their parents, families, and communities. These relationships are evident within and across all stages of the learner’s educational journey towards success.

Effective and meaningful engagement is essential for Pacific learner success, which needs to be established early on in early learning settings and maintained throughout their learning journey in schools and tertiary institutions to ensure success later in life.

In practice, the teacher needs to utilise Pacific constructs to engage and collaborate in different and meaningful ways that empower Pacific learners, parents, families, and communities. Turu 2 alludes to the reciprocal notion of collaborative power sharing and relationships where schools or early learning settings critically examine whose knowledge is being taught and valued, recognising that the existing system often privileges the majority's "culture" and knowledge.

Schools or early learning settings need to recognise this and create relationships and spaces for learner knowledge to be valued within an early learning setting, the classroom, and the education system.

Implements pedagogical approaches that are effective for Pacific learners.

Turu 3 refers to the journey undertaken and the outcomes desired by Pacific learners and their 'aiga (families) to achieve success in an early learning setting or in groups such as parent groups or school.

Turu 3 brings Pacific strengths and understanding to existing teaching standards and competencies, as well as a code of ethics and effective pedagogy in an early learning setting or in the classroom, so that teaching practice is relevant and personalised to the learner. It means teachers need to understand that Pacific learners inhabit different realities, learn and engage in multiple ways, and come into early learning settings and classrooms with unique skills, talents, and knowledge.

Pedagogical models and frameworks to guide teachers 

In order to get to know Pacific learners better, you can access a range of Pacific models and frameworks, as suggested in the Tapasā publication.  

These models are valuable and effective procedures that capture and articulate Pacific worldviews, knowledge, and cultural frameworks. Such approaches provide greater opportunities for Pacific learners to participate in and engage in learning through culturally relevant, authentic, and meaningful processes. They can be applied in educational settings through everyday approaches to practice, philosophy, vision, meeting processes, research, and so on. 

Pacific frameworks include: