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Ko te mutunga oranga, he timatatanga kaha! Winning starts with beginning!


Ko te mutunga oranga, he timatatanga kaha, is a Māori phrase which reminds us that we cannot finish something we do not start. It is a wise reminder that we learn by doing, that improvement takes time, and that in order to do, learn, and improve, we must first begin.


Ko te mutunga oranga, he timatatanga kaha is a key part of our Secondary programme; our motto, Improvement is the Goal, incorporates the importance of Ko te mutunga oranga, he timatatanga kaha, a successful end comes from a good start. What is a good start? We believe a good start begins with having a growth-oriented mindset, in the recognition that our first attempts will have mistakes; and that by accepting each new skill or concept is associated with minimal understanding or ability, we may work towards mastery.


Ko te mutunga oranga, he timatatanga kaha, reminds us that we can work towards the “win”, but to do that we must first begin. With this in mind, we believe it is important to counter the modern world’s focus on perfectionism and it’s academic correlation to procrastination, or not starting. Study results show that all dimensions of perfectionism are related with academic procrastination (Capan, 2010 p1666). In other words, the fear of being unable to complete a task without mistakes delays the start of the task. At New Zealand School Jakarta, we understand that we learn best from our mistakes; through trial and error, exploration, practice, problem-solving, and reflection. We work to stretch our understanding and grow our abilities. Much like learning to walk or saying our first sentence, learning academically will begin with mistakes, which is not only alright, but also expected and encouraged.


We believe a connected part of starting well is helping students understand the difference between high expectations and high standards, which helps in judging when to use the two appropriately. A high expectation is the trust that a learner can reach beyond what they are currently capable of doing on their own, paired with an open-minded, curious attitude that allows them to try something new even when it surpasses what they believe they are capable of. High expectations are coupled with the expectancy of seeing how it turns out rather than the expectation of perfection. On the other side of that, a high standard is an ability marker close to or at mastery level. High standards are the ultimate goal of mastery, but need to be seen as the success that comes after the training, practice, reflection, adjustment and time needed in reaching for the high expectation. High expectations and high standards work together well when used to positively guide the learning path from beginner to advanced. Helping students to reach beyond their comfort zone while maintaining realistic expectations for the evolution of their progress is the actualization of the Secondary motto.


Our Secondary staff works hard to help students take their first steps into the adult world with support and guidance for how to try, reflect, and improve upon each skill and concept needed to successfully navigate themselves through unknowns of a future yet to be written. A successful end begins with a good start. Ko te mutunga oranga, he timatatanga kaha.



By Mari Hawes




Çapan, B.E. (28 Mar 2010). Relationship Among Perfectionism, Academic Procrastination and Life Satisfaction of University Students. Elsevier, Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 5 (2010) 1665–1671. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.07.342




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