SPARKLERS / Kindness & friendship

Culture of Kindness

A co-design approach to creating a culture of kindness in your classroom and school.
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki understand aspects of the school environment that contribute to a culture of kindness.

Tāngia ēnei tohutohu – Print me

Print off one Culture of Kindness Kōrero worksheet for each student – plus an extra set for once tamariki are working in groups of four.

(If tamariki are completing this exercise at home and have misplaced their worksheet, they could copy the questions into their exercise book. If you've discussed the concepts in class, they should have lots of great ideas!)

He aha ai? – Why we love it

This is an opportunity to be inclusive, get ideas about kindness and build a culture where everyone has important things to contribute.

This activity helps to strengthen tamariki-whānau and school-whānau relationships, and can inspire tamariki as they learn what their whānau wish for them.

Tikanga tips

Some whānau members' responses may reflect their own difficult or unhappy experiences of school. If negative feelings surface, approach this learning opportunity with empathy and compassion – having a conversation about the sorts of things you could do to ensure those experiences aren’t repeated.


For this activity, students interview a whānau member about their own experiences of school, and what their hopes are for their child’s education. As well as giving your school a chance to engage with the community in a co-design process, this provides a deeper learning experience for tamariki.

If this activity won't work for your setting, check out the in-class option Journey to the Future, which can also be done as a precursor.


Say to tamariki:

We spend about 1,152 hours every year at school – that’s nearly 15,000 hours by the time you graduate high school!

Given we spend so much of our lives at school, it’s important that as well as learning, we also feel happy and safe.

  • What would help to make a school a positive place for everyone?
  • What things might get in the way of students, staff or whānau feeling safe and happy at school?

Think about what school might have been like for your parents or grown-up whānau.

  • What things are similar? And what things have changed?
  • How might your whānau members’ experiences of school impact the way they feel about you being at school?
  • What might your whānau hope you get out of your school days? (Sometimes we don’t really know, and sometimes it’s all they talk about!)

What sorts of things might influence what they want for you? (This could range from: things they didn’t get to do while they were at school, to things they think you're really good at, their views on education or their dream for tamariki to have the best future possible

Say: Tonight – you'll be chief reporter and your job is to interview an adult in your family about their experiences of school and what their hopes are for you.

This will help us understand the goals they have for us – and come up with some cool things we could focus on within our class and school.

Hei mahi - What to do

Hand out the kōrero worksheets, and explain that you’d like each student to use this to interview someone in their whānau.

Students will need to ask someone at home these questions, note their answers, and bring the worksheet back to school. Some tamariki may forget so if possible, perhaps schedule a time they could call them the following day.

Once you have as much feedback as possible, let students know you’re going to do some thematic analysis (oooooh!) but first ask...

  • Who learned something new from their whānau interview?
  • Who enjoyed being the interviewer or having this time together?

Ask tamariki to work together in groups of about four – going through each question and looking for the ‘in-commons’.

Now it’s time for the interviewers to become the interviewees! Give each group a fresh worksheet, and ask them to record their own answers to the questions.

Re-group (this could be the next day) and go through the ‘group’ themes compiling them to the class whānau themes.

Explore how these themes could be incorporated into a new school policy around bullying prevention, your school mission or your school values. Classes could also submit to the principal their own proposed ‘culture of kindness’ guide, which can contribute to new school policies.

For help with building new policy, check out Bully Free NZ or Work Safe for templates.

What next?

  • Staff could complete a similar activity and consider what things they wish for themselves and their students to experience as part of the school's culture
  • Celebrate the establishment of your policies and thank whānau, staff and students for all their valuable input.

Looking after you

Foster the hauora of your kaiako and team

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