A new partnership between Te Runanga-A-Iwi o Ngapuhi, philanthropic funder JR McKenzie Trust and Kaikohe Intermediate School is looking to 'change the narrative,' growing young Maori boys in Kaikohe into great men.

The partners said a trend of recurring negative behaviour painted a bleak future for young Maori males in Kaikohe, particularly within the Year 7-10 age bracket.

Students were disengaging in formal education — 77 per cent of stand-downs, and 87 per cent of those suspended over the last two years were boys.

The Kaikohekohe Education Project recognised those challenges but was not dwelling on them as a defining factor.

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"Current approaches just aren't working, so we're doing things differently, based on the principles and values of being proud as Maori and Ngapuhi."

The project was defined as a values and strength-based programme for Year 7-10 taitama (Maori boys), the future fathers, partners, community leaders and the next generation of Ngapuhi.

Taitama were seen as key members of the Kaikohe community, who were at their greatest potential to contribute, innovate and challenge how society functioned and designed success.

"Through early intervention and positive reinforcement, we want to bring excitement and engagement back into the educational systems of the Kaikohe community, particularly for our young Maori boys," said Erena Kara, Te Runanga-A-Iwi o Ngapuhi general manager.

"Current approaches just aren't working, so we're doing things differently, based on the principles and values of being proud as Maori and Ngapuhi."

The project sought to strategically intersect current educational pathways at critical moments, building positive and safe transitional spaces and walking alongside young Maori boys while they negotiated some of life's most dramatic developmental times.

Kaikohe Intermediate School had been chosen as the first school to deliver the new programme.

Principal Freda Mokaraka said some models had long been used in other regions, with positive results.

"We need to maximise our results by making the most of the resources available," she said.

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"The key lies in knowing how to mobilise and motivate our boys to take up the challenge. Meanwhile, we are mindful about what we do and how we do it with what little resources we have."

Jim Matheson, project co-ordinator at the JR McKenzie Trust said all young people deserved to experience success in education.

"We are supporting the Kaikohekohe Education Project because success is most likely to come from projects that are locally-driven and developed," he said.

"A key role of the trust is to support leaders of change in the community, and the Ngapuhi Runanga is an organisation that can lead sustained change.

"By working in partnership with Kaikohe Intermediate School, they will bring to the table expertise that will raise the educational outcomes of this special group of young people."