Associate Professor Melinda Webber has focused her career on telling the good stories that other people ignore. She has shone a light on what’s working well for Māori students – their strengths and what’s helping them succeed. She also shines a light on the pockets of excellent culturally responsive practice she finds in schools. Melinda would like those working with Māori and Pasifika students and their whānau to do the same – look for what’s working well,  and rather than assuming they know, to ask questions and listen to students’ responses.

Listen to why Melinda believes that a lot of cultural responsiveness comes down to manaakitanga – kindness and caring for people as they are. “It’s about caring for one another in our communities”. For those who feel intimidated by this challenge, she reminds us that we just need to take small steps and take time to bed them in – so that they become genuinely part of our culture.


Dr Melinda Webber, Associate Professor in Te Puna Wananga at the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland. Her work has shown the importance of understanding and respect for cultural identity in enabling Māori students’ success at school. A Rutherford Fellow, and the recipient of a Marsden Scholarship, she is the Director for the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity programme, an elected councillor on the governing board of Te Aparangi – The Royal Society of New Zealand, and a former Director of the Starpath Project.

You can learn more about her work at: