Assessment, much like learning, is interactive, social and contextual. New information and experience is understood and assimilated in relation to prior knowledge and experiences. While it is increasingly accepted that Māori learners have their own ways of understanding the world which are different from those of their non-Māori peers, teachers need to be careful not to promote a homogeneous approach to Māori learners. This article advocates the use of culturally responsive pedagogies that include assessment practices to meet the specific needs of the students. In association with the development of these understandings, there has grown a shift in focus from the deficiencies of the learner to a closer examination of the role of schools and schooling, the “system” itself and the production and implementation of culturally responsive models and quality teaching programmes that include formative assessment approaches.