An American educationalist is challenging the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, to do more through the school curriculum to nurture and develop the next generation of Māori leaders.
Pedro Noguera is the executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at New York University.
He was a guest speaker at the recent national Māori education hui, Tuia Te Ako.
He said he was concerned about the high underachievement rates of Māori in the education system, which needs to change.
"Unless we do something different to prepare the Māori and others for leadership roles through good education, this society is in trouble, the future is in trouble," he said.
Dr Noguera said if Ms Parata does not do anything about it now, many young Māori won't aspire to be leaders.
"This should not be framed as merely a Māori problem, this is a challenge for the whole country.
"And therefore the Minister needs to be a leader in figuring out how do we undertake this very important task of preparing the next generation to solve the problems created by the past."
Minister defends indigenous achievement rates
But the Minister of Education is dismissing claims by Dr Noguera that the curriculum is not doing enough to raise Māori achievement levels.
She said there is ample evidence to show that although Māori educational achievement could be better, there are signs that things are improving.
"New Zealand does enjoy a very good international reputation in terms of educational achievement by indigenous people and by Māori," Ms Parata said.
"There has been significant growth and achievement by Māori over the past five years and there's been significant increase in Māori participation and success at tertiary level.
"Now it's not enough, and we [the Government] are committed to there being more [Māori educational achievement] and I suspect there will be more."
In April, Universities New Zealand - Te Pōkai Tara - reported that, nationally, UE pass rates dropped from 70 percent in 2013 to 58 percent when NCEA/UE results were announced in January 2014, but they subsequently recovered to 62 percent following re-sits, appeals and recounts.
This is an overall drop of 8 percent nationally.
By contrast, Māori pass rates were 10.3 percent lower from 2013 to 2014 (59.7 percent overall for Māori compared with the national average of 62 percent).