DMIC Introduction

Hangaia te Urupounamu Pāngarau Mō Tātou (Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities ) has been initiated in 2016 in Shirley Primary School, funded by Ngāi Tahu kaumatua, Laurie Loper, in memory of his brother, through the James Stewart Loper Trust. The bequest is administered through a partnership between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Massey University, Shirley Primary School, and the Ministry of Education. The Minister of Education joined Hangaia te Urupounamu Pāngarau Mō Tātou partners at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to celebrate the bequest on 21st June. This video provides insights into the nature of this best evidence approach and the early benefits to the children of Shirley Primary School. The approach explained in the original BES exemplar was selected from a comprehensive search of thousands of interventions because it had the greatest impact on equity and excellence in mathematics achievement, social skills and key competencies in the New Zealand Curriculum. This evidence in action feature explains through a series of videos the how and the impact of the Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities approach.


Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities is a model of ambitious mathematics teaching founded in equity which incorporates an advanced form of complex instruction (originally designed and developed by Professors Elizabeth Cohen and Rachel Lotan at Stanford University, and in mathematics by Professor Jo Boaler). Complex instruction has been featured in four best evidence syntheses since 2003.

In New Zealand the approach has been led by Associate Professor Bobbie Hunter of Massey University, who brings her Cook Islands heritage, mathematics education, professional learning, and theory to practice expertise to this collaborative and culturally responsive pedagogy. Associate Professor Hunter received a special award acknowledging excellence in educational leadership and mathematics education from the Cook Islands’ government in August 2015.

This approach is informed also by Professor Glenda Anthony, lead writer of the New Zealand Effective pedagogy in mathematics/ pāngarau Best evidence synthesis, and of the summary of that BES commissioned by the International Academy of Education and UNESCO.

Dr Jodie Hunter’s expertise in developing early algebraic reasoning in children, pedagogical capability of teachers and new approaches to lesson study for sustainability is informing the approach to Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities.

Glenda, Bobbie and Jodie have each received the Beth Southwell Practical Implications Award from the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia. They have been the only New Zealanders to receive the award in the 25 years since it began.

New Zealand’s BES Exemplar 1 was published in 2012 through partnership work with NZEI Te Riu Roa and quality assured by Professor Emerita Courtney Cazden of Harvard University. The exemplar identified the ways in which this approach can develop high impact, inclusive pedagogy, enables the conditions for deep professional learning, and forges educationally powerful connections with families, whānau, communities. The rationale is explained in The use of evidence to improve education and serve the public good.

Developing mathematical inquiry communities

Since Bobbie Hunter’s doctoral study was published in 2007 there has been a series of replications led by Bobbie in 30 New Zealand schools. The focus has been on developing teacher expertise, pedagogical leadership, what it takes to develop in-class mentoring expertise, and conditions for sustainability and ongoing improvement. This approach drives the kind of productive collaboration that is critical for accelerated achievement in communities of learning.

Developing expertise in this high impact pedagogy is hard but rewarding. 

In 2015, a series of 15 videos was produced to bring the approach to life through the perspectives of children, teachers, leaders, whānau. The first video is narrated by a Ngāi Tahu kaumatua and retired educational psychologist, Laurie Loper.