Phase two: First impressions of design and layout

Book cover

First impressions of the cover (front and back) of the book

Kura first impressions of the books were mostly positive with most of the feedback stating the book covers in particular were clear, simple and concise. Kura commented that the size and colour of the title headings made it easy to read and the pictures generally related well to the topic of the book and connected to the realities of tamariki Māori.


Some design features were not clear to kura including conventions around capitalisation of headings in book titles and why some pictures on the front cover are smaller than others creating a lot of used space.


All kura noticed and commented on the new stamp and colours which is covered in more detail in the following sections.

Level stamp

What kura liked or disliked about the design and placement of the stamp

Comments from kura regarding the new level stamp and placement on the book were mostly positive. Kura thought the new level stamp design was appropriate; it was easy to identify the level; the level descriptor was large, clear to see and easy to read; and the placement at the top corner of the book made it easier for the kaiako to locate the level.


Mostly the kura liked the consistent placing of the stamp and levels on the top corner of every book. There were four respondents that suggested placing the stamp on the front cover of the book, and/or the spine to make it easier for the Kaiako to locate the level.  This view was countered by a different respondent (reading recovery teacher) who liked the fact that the front cover wasn’t cluttered with the detail of the levels as this could create a distraction for the reader.  Two respondents preferred the stamp when it was in the middle of the back cover.


Two kura questioned the appropriateness of the new design and thought the stamp should reflect a ‘kete’ as in previous books rather than a circle and whariki design as indicated in the following comments:

The circle doesn’t represent a kete.

The design of the new level stamp – we didn’t like this at all, we felt it was incorrect, inconclusive, small and confusing. 

We prefer the big kete that used to do show the level better.

The kete makes more sense as the collection is called Ngā Kete Kōrero.


This suggests the design change requires some socialisation so kura know that the integrity of the kaupapa is being maintained through the new design change.


One kaiako questioned the layout of the transitional levels and suggested a clearer alternative as shown in the diagram below.

Current stamp wording:

 Current stamp wording

Suggested alternative stamp wording

Suggested alternative stamp wording

Level colours

What kura liked or disliked about the new colours and colour placement

The new colours and placement of the colours was again received positively with few exceptions. The kura respondents liked the fact that the whole back cover was in the level colour making it easy to identify the level.  The kura liked the colours and thought they reflected well the concept of the harakeke and the natural environment.  One respondent thought that the colour made it easier for the tamariki to identify the level book they are looking for as well.


Exceptions included comments that the colours were too dull and could be brighter so they are more appealing to the tamariki. One respondent thought the kiekie colour could be more defined so it replicated the stamp colour.


One kura had questions regarding the kupu Māori for the colours being used and the fact that some colours would be hard to find for those kura that are colour coding their storage boxes to align to the colours of the levels. One respondent noted that they would have to replace all the storage boxes for the books, not just Ngā Kete Kōrero books, when the new levelled books are introduced.  This respondent thought it would be helpful if the Ministry made colour coded storage boxes available.


The most common improvement was a request for a strip of the level colour to come through to the spine and left-hand side of the front book cover making it easier for the Kaiako to see the level at a glance; and also assist with labelling and storage. This feedback came from three of the seven kura as follows:

Great to have the colour and the back but also would be good to have a strip of the colour on front perhaps on left hand

near bind.

Liked how back cover matches the colour level, perhaps continue around the front.
Is there a possibility of putting colour on left edge of all books?
Would be good to have a strip of that colour in front.
Add a strip of the colour in the front of the book as I don’t look at the back of the book.
Love the new design, maybe a colour of level on spine in front on left.
What would make it easier is if the spine of the book was coloured to denote the level, would make it easier to select and less work for kaiako relabelling boxes


One kura preferred to have the same colour used across all the levels but it was not clear from their feedback the rationale for this change.

Miro and Muka

Kura were also asked their views on the name change of the final level from Miro to Muka. Eighteen of the twenty-seven respondents agreed with the name change and felt that it related to harakeke and maintained the integrity of the kaupapa.  The remaining respondents either didn’t understand or see the relevance of the name change.  

Book layout

Respondents were asked to comment on the internal design and layout of the books, indicating any areas that they thought were positive or could be improved. The respondents were then asked to rate the extent to which they liked or disliked the font size, font type, spacing between words and the images (quality and relevance).


At first glance the kura respondents noticed changes to the size of the text and that the spacing between words was smaller than in the original books. Based on the survey responses (refer graph one) the font size followed by the spacing was liked the least.  The quality of the images was mostly liked (59%) however 37% either liked a little or did not like the relevance of the images.

Graph 1

One kura provided specific feedback concerning the quality of the texts being reviewed. The kura commented that the book internal design was inconsistent and the books looked cheap and sub-standard.  The evaluation team went to speak with this kura following receipt of their survey feedback to ensure they understood the intent of the trial and the trial books.  The kura stated they understood the purpose of the trial but stood by their feedback as follows:

In summary, we were distressed and disturbed by the quality and lack of basic thought that appears to be the outcome of this long awaited review.  How can we ever have any confidence in the process or the powers in control if this is what is presented to us? We were excited to hear this was happening and looking forward to a better reading system moving forward for our students.  Our students deserve fair and equitable educational resources and we can all attest to the basics being the power of literacy of which reading is a huge part and yet our Māori students continue to be provided with the crumbs hence my earlier comment about institutional racism.  I hope that your work with regard to this research will give you an opportunity to advocate on behalf of us and our students to ensure they get the inspirational resources they so justly deserve, no better than main stream but on par which has never been my experience.

Font size

Forty-four percent of respondents liked the font size, and 48% either liked a little or did not like the changes. Generally, respondents (from across five of the nine kura) preferred a larger font size.  Reasons included readability for young readers especially those that are still encouraged to use their fingers to guide their reading.

The font is smaller to the original pukapuka. I like that my tamariki can wetewete ngā kupu and finger spacing. Please leave the font size the same – bigger


Another respondent did not like the font size as it was too small for shared reading purposes.

These are shared readers used in bigger groups where kids further back from the front wouldn’t be able to see the words.  


Most respondents commented on the size with no explanation as to why a larger font is preferred. Some of the comment are as follows:

Kāore tino pai te rahi o ngā pū, me nui ake.
Prefer the larger font size in the original books.
Font size could be bigger.
Font - too small.
Everything has gone smaller what is the reasoning behind this? Is it the level?


One kura who focused on the Harakeke suite of books felt the font and spacing was better for their learners.

The font was easier for them to put a matimati mō ia kupu, pai tērā, me te tiriwā, kī mai ngā tamariki, he pai te tiriwā nē?  So, he tino rawe ngā tamariki ki te whai atu te kupu, te tiriwā, te kupu, koirā te mea i ako au i ngā tuhituhi, so he mea pai tērā, ngā tamariki Harakeke.  And ka orite ki ngā tamariki i piki mai ki te taumata Harakeke EA.


Fifty-two percent of respondents liked the spacing and 41% either liked a little or did not like the spacing. One kura commented the most on spacing noting specifically that the spacing was too close and needed to be wider. Other spacing related comments included spacing between lines which was considered to be good. It was noted by one respondent that the text was left-aligned leaving more white space around the text.  This drew more attention to the pictures rather than the words which the respondent thought was good.

I noticed the spacing of the text between the pictures.  Good space so tamariki instantly look to the pictures than to the words.  


Another respondent however did not like the fact that sentences were being split due to what appeared to be a layout/spacing matter

I don’t like splitting sentences when there is room on the page, not too appropriate.   

Font type

Sixty-three percent of respondents liked the font type in the books they reviewed. The main concern was distinguishing the letter 'a'. Depending on the font type this could look like an 'e' or an ‘ā’ for the reader. The preference was for the comic sans type as it was easier to read, it aligned well with how students are taught to write and it was less likely to cause confusion. One respondent however thought that ‘a’ could be confused by readers with an ‘o’, especially with the smaller font size.


One kura commented on the use of bold font in one of the books (Te Whakataetae Waka Ama), which they thought was inconsistent and unusual for a professional reader.


The images of the books were generally well received with a preference for larger, simple, more colourful pictures to support the text.


There were different views as to whether the text should be printed over graphics or not [refer Piki rere runga hau as an example]. In the example book, the kura commented that the text is printed on the graphic on one page and on another page the text is printed on white space under the picture.  They questioned the inconsistency of the layout as well as the appropriateness of printing on the graphics.  Only one other respondent thought the text should not be printed on graphics. 


Kura also felt that tamariki responded well to images that they could relate to:

I had two boys in my higher groups were like “oh titiro Kōkā, orite ki taku tuakana” so they were relating the pictures to their whānau … to what their whānau would be doing....they were able to talk about “oh orite ki taku tuahine tēnā”, you know “he bossy a ia engari, koirā te mahi i mahi māua”.  Things like that have brought a lot more conversation.

Additional feedback

A range of additional comments were received that were outside of the original brief of the survey, but were provided in the ‘Further Comment’ section of the survey. The responses are included as they have relevance to the improvement of publications.  The comments were not common across respondents as they relate to improvements to specific books.

Word counts

Where word counts were included in books these were received well with one respondent noting that word counts help with pānui haere.

Show the total number of words in the book, easier for when doing panui haere.

Kupu whakamārama

Where kupu whakamārama were included in the books these were well received.

Kupu whakamārama - great idea for key words and support for teacher and learners.


One respondent suggested a summary be included in the Kiekie/Pingao books.

Kki should it also have a summary? That is one of the whainga however it’s hard to find books with a summary.

Book size

One respondent commented on the different book sizes and the challenges this creates with the same level book coming in different sizes.

Sometimes the size of the book doesn’t fit in boxes we have.  Managing the resource becomes an issue at times. So if you had four different series in one box - maybe some sort of dividers, just a whakaaro.


There was also a request for bigger books for shared reading. Only one of the trial books was a large book and the kura that provided feedback felt the font was too small for reading and also the kura didn’t like the wire binding.

The wire binding on the big book is ridiculous, this type of binding solution never lasts, renders the books useless in a very short time frame.  These also don’t have a large enough font because these are shared readers and used in bigger groups where kids further back from the front wouldn’t be able to see the words.

Comprehension activities

Two respondents suggested including comprehension activities in the books to assist the kaiako to engage the reader.

Maybe think about comprehension activities attached to each book.  These would be very helpful and time saving.

Perhaps hei mahi, inferencing and deeper stuff linked to the book…a puna that has mahi ngohe and additional activities on the side to increase whakamārama.

Online resources

Five kura made comments relating to online resources. Two kura thought that more online resources were needed in order to expose tamariki and whānau to more reading resources in the home.

Online copies, audio copies, the more exposure our tamariki can get to hear quality examples of reading the better chance they have of increased fluency.

Online resources, so students and kaiako can access pukapuka at home.  Also online assessment tools and teacher resources.


One kura recommended an online ordering system that keeps track of what schools have already ordered.

It would be good to have an online ordering system where you could see a record of what books your kura has ordered - that way a kura is not over ordering on the same books.

Iwi resources

One respondent recommended more books that reflected iwi stories, and reo ā- iwi.

Books that are dialectal, so same story but using “kei te” for a rohe that uses it and “e…ana”… the idea that the books can be rohe specific is a need if te reo a iwi is to thrive and kaupapa is matched to rohe, e.g. kingitanga…also in Tainui they double vowel…getting material that matches iwi specific language and uniqueness of the same story needs to be on the menu.