Te Tai Tokerau will be the first region to run a kaupapa which will grow Maori leaders by challenging mainstream ideas of education and reclaiming traditional Māori knowledge.

Kelvin Davis, Associate Minister of Education and Te Tai Tokerau MP, announced at NorthTec's Te Puna o te Mātauranga Marae on Wednesday that Te Kawa Matakura, a three-year kaupapa which aims to grow future young Māori leaders, will be delivered in Northland next year.

"Back in the day our tūpuna (ancestors), when they became experts in a particular field they became real experts.

"This is about extending mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) beyond what we normally know, and creating experts beyond what is taught at any school."

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Te Kawa Matakura will be available to 15 to 25-year-olds skilled in te reo and other aspects of te ao Māori.

That age bracket targets those engaged in their final years of school, and those no longer attending formal education.

Unlike western education programmes run out of classrooms, the operations of Te Kawa Matakura will depend on each region's needs and what is being taught, and it will be supported by iwi and tohunga (experts).

"If you want to learn about the ngahere - the bush - why would you sit in a classroom and learn about it? You've got to go out and learn about it.

"The boundaries that we have in western schooling won't apply to this. But the knowledge will be deep and meaningful Māori knowledge."

Davis said over the years the Crown had suppressed Māori knowledge and he believed the Government had an obligation to assist Māori to reclaim it.

"Our taumata, our ranks of speakers, are non existent and in many areas they're very thin. Kura kaupapa is doing a fantastic job at filling those ranks but we've got to go to another level again and not really be bound by what we understand as western education models.

"Doing NCEA doesn't prove to anybody that you are functioning as a Māori with all this knowledge where Te Kawa Matakura will mean when you emerge from this that you have this rich vein of mātauranga Maori as your foundation."

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The Ministry of Education will work with NZQA to develop a qualification for graduates but Davis doesn't want people to focus too much on that.

"I don't really want people to think that's the end all and be all and say 'Oh what's that qualification going to get you?' It actually steps you into the Māori world in a way that people haven't been able to for 150 to 200 years."