More about the korowai

He kōrero anō mō te korowai

Last updated 5 January 2023
Last updated 5 January 2023

The korowai signifies the following key objectives of vocational education in Aotearoa New Zealand:


The learner is at the centre of the korowai or system, where they are supported to learn relevant skills.

  • Vocational education and training (VET) is relevant to the workplace, fulfilling regional and national workforce needs.
  • Industry has a strong voice in the development of programmes and qualifications, so learners can feel confident they are learning industry-relevant skills.
  • Learners have the flexibility to study throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and choose from classroom, workplace or online learning.
  • The system is inclusive and equitable for all learners to provide equal opportunity for success.

Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The tāniko (collar) of the korowai, closest to the upoko (head) of the learner, communicates the utmost importance that vocational education places on honouring Te Tiriti. The tāniko is integral to the foundation of the korowai, just as the commitment to Te Tiriti underpins the vocational education system. The tāniko is the horizontal muka (flax fibre) strands which all the other vertical muka fibres get woven into/from.

Organisations participating in the VET system are empowered to actively engage with ākonga (students), whānau, iwi and hapū in decision-making and prioritise Māori cultural knowledge and capability.

Tertiary education organisations

Tertiary education organisations (TEOs) are represented on the shoulder of the cloak, near the upoko of the learner, which signifies their importance and shows how the strands of the TEOs are woven into the system. TEOs are the front line of the VET system and are expected to provide high-quality, culturally responsive education with a focus on learner wellbeing.

Qualifications informed by industry, regions and Māori leadership

Vocational qualifications and programmes will be developed by organisations tasked with ensuring they are relevant to industry and regional needs and support Māori–Crown partnerships. This flow of information is represented in the korowai by the interwoven muka fibres of the garment.

Workforce Development Councils (WDCs)

Like strands of muka in the korowai, the six WDCs help to hold the system together by giving industry a much greater leadership voice for setting standards and developing qualifications in their respective sectors. The councils consider the input of industry leaders, employers, iwi and Māori businesses to determine the skills needed for work in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) 

Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs)

These 15 regional bodies work with local employers and leaders to identify upcoming skills needs and provide regional solutions to regional problems. Where a national response is required, RSLGs are connected to the right parties to start that response. RSLGs are represented by the interwoven muka strands that run perpendicular to the WDCs’ muka, reflecting how they work together to identify future skills needs and to develop and endorse qualifications that align with government priorities.

Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs)

Taumata Aronui

This independent group helps form government priorities and advises to improve outcomes for Māori learners and uphold the values of Te Tiriti. In the korowai, Taumata Aronui is represented by the clasp that holds the collar (Te Tiriti) and the entire garment together. This reflects how Taumata Aronui and Te Tiriti are integral to the system: if we remove the collar/clasp, the korowai will fall to the ground.

Taumata Aronui

Government enabling system change

This is represented by the muka strands that bind together to form the structural fabric of the korowai.

  • The new funding framework encourages TEOs to put the needs of learners at the centre and ensure they can access training that is right for them, at the right time and in the right place.
  • Investment in VET is conducted through the Unified Funding System (UFS), which puts learners and their whānau at the centre, supports work-based learning and incentivises delivery of the skills that are needed by learners, employers and communities.
  • Vocational qualifications are simplified to enable learners to easily transition from the classroom to a work environment depending on their needs, and more consistency in skills learned across different regions.

Values of the VET system

Underpinning the system (the korowai) and the way it operates (is woven together) are key shared values:

Kaitiakitanga – shared guardianship

Learners are provided with a caring environment that encourages them to have a connection with the training they receive.

Whakapono – trust

Learners and employers should trust that the system delivers training and skills that meet their needs and are relevant to their region.

Manaakitanga – service to others

The focus of vocational education is to support learner wellbeing and benefit the economy and wider community.

Kotahitanga – collaboration

The vocational education system has a collective responsibility to support individuals to achieve their aspirations, and this can only be achieved by collaboration between TEOs, employers and learners.

Download this information about the korowai system map as a PDF (PDF 18 MB)