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Paradigm lost: The loss of bicultural and relation-centred paradigms in New Zealand education and ongoing discrepancies in students' experiences and outcomes



The term paradigm lost (with apologies to Milton) references the lost opportunities arising from a discrepancy in both what the New Zealand education context promises and what is implemented in many schools. Honouring the Treaty of Waitangi inherently promises an education system that draws on the worldviews of both Māori and Pākehā. We argue that the schooling model, adopted in 1877 and substantively unchallenged since, does not reflect the views of the uniqueness of every child as contained in the heritages of both Treaty signatory partners. More concerning is that the accompanying assimilatory practices within schooling have perpetuated their disastrous impact on Māori. This article explores the impacts of the ‘lost paradigm’ on students’ sense of self and therefore on their sense of belonging at school. The potential and hope for paradigm regained is also presented, drawing from the responses of educators who have participated in a professional learning and development course, where participants engage in a process of conscientisation, resistance and transformative praxis, that changes both their personal educational practice and that of their school. Through this course, participants experience what Freire (1996) refers to as ‘radical hope’ – the belief that we can make life better for others and change the paradigms that lead to oppression and despair.
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
Paradigm Lost: The loss of bicultural and relation-centred
paradigms in New Zealand education and ongoing
discrepancies in students’ experiences and outcomes
Elizabeth Eley and Mere Berryman
University of Waikato
The term paradigm lost (with apologies to Milton) references the lost opportunities arising from a
discrepancy in both what the New Zealand education context promises and what is implemented in
many schools. Honouring the Treaty of Waitangi inherently promises an education system that draws
on the worldviews of both Māori and Pākehā. We argue that the schooling model, adopted in 1877
and substantively unchallenged since, does not reflect the views of the uniqueness of every child as
contained in the heritages of both Treaty signatory partners. More concerning is that the
accompanying assimilatory practices within schooling have perpetuated their disastrous impact on
Māori. This article explores the impacts of the ‘lost paradigm’ on students’ sense of self and therefore
on their sense of belonging at school. The potential and hope for paradigm regained is also presented,
drawing from the responses of educators who have participated in a professional learning and
development course, where participants engage in a process of conscientisation, resistance and
transformative praxis, that changes both their personal educational practice and that of their school.
Through this course, participants experience what Freire (1996) refers to as ‘radical hope’ the belief
that we can make life better for others and change the paradigms that lead to oppression and despair.
Keywords: education history, education policy, Māori student experiences, critical theories
The New Zealand education policies and schooling documents require that educators honour
the Treaty of Waitangi as they deliver education to our young people. Honouring the Treaty
requires that educators and schooling practices, including curriculum and assessment, will
respect and draw on the worldviews of both Māori and Pākehā. In both these world views
children are considered, as explicitly described in the Early Childhood Education Curriculum
Te Whāriki, as imbued with mana atuatanga qualities of “uniqueness and spiritual
connectedness” (Ministry of Education, 2017a, p. 35). However, we believe that without a
fuller appreciation of some of the historical acts that preceded this Treaty, these qualities of
mana atuatanga will never be widely accepted or supported by our current schooling model.
This model, now often labelled as the factory model of schooling, was adopted by New
Zealand in 1877. The core concepts of this model remain in place to this day. Our tight
adherence to the precepts of this model precludes national conversations and
understandings of the views of the child inherent in the heritages of both Treaty signatory
partners – Māori and British. The requirement to honour the Treaty of Waitangi should
encourage a focus on the key historical and ontological beliefs that underpin our bicultural
heritage. Understanding these beliefs could allow for our schooling system to be founded on
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
a different paradigm than that of the factory model. Instead, with apologies to Milton, we
have a situation of paradigm lost – the lost opportunities arising from a discrepancy in what
the Treaty obligations within the New Zealand education context were built from and promise
and what is implemented in many schools.
In this article we outline factors that have contributed to a general acceptance of the
current model of schooling as the preferred model, despite the ongoing deleterious impact
this model has had on generations of children. We also present a professional learning and
development (PLD) model that has proven to support educators to acknowledge and
understand their role in perpetuating the paradigms that underpin the current status quo and
to engage with the ongoing and spiralling process of conscientisation, resistance and
transformative praxis that is needed to promote lasting, transformative change.
Schooling in New Zealand
Most children in New Zealand are educated through the country’s state schooling system.
Under the Education Act, enrolment in a State school is both a right: “every domestic student
is entitled to free enrolment and free education at any State school during the period
beginning on the student’s fifth birthday and ending on 1 January after the student’s 19th
birthday” (Education Act 2020, s3, 33 (1)) and a compulsion: “Every domestic student must,
during the period beginning on the student’s sixth birthday and ending on the student’s 16th
birthday, be enrolled at a registered school” (Education Act 2020, s 3, 35 (1)). The vast
majority of children attend a school on 1 July 2020 there were 826,347 students in New
Zealand schools (Ministry of Education, 2020e). In contrast, 6,573 students (0.8 percent of all
eligible children) had been granted a Certificate of Exemption from Enrolment at a Registered
School, and their parents or legal guardian were legally responsible for their learning
programme (Ministry of Education, 2020a).
The advent of our current schooling system
Despite tangata whenua (people of the land, collectively known today as Māori, New
Zealand’s Indigenous tribes) having a range of effective methods for knowledge transmission
long before colonisation had begun (Berryman, 2008), the mass schooling system for New
Zealand arrived with the early settlers from Great Britain. The first European-style school was
established for Māori in 1816 by missionary Thomas Kendall, at Rangihoua (Barrington &
Beaglehole, 1974; Simon & Smith, 2001). Attendance at these schools was voluntary and
popular, by the late 1840s there was a mission school in almost every village (Calman, 2012)
as Māori sought to understand the benefits of the new technologies on offer. Both adults and
children attended, with instruction conducted in te reo Māori (Māori language). It was
estimated that, in the early 1840s, half of the adult Māori population were literate in te reo
Māori (Simon & Smith, 2001). The first state support for mission schools came from the
Education Ordinance Act 1847, the funding dependent on instruction being in English. By
1851, the numbers attending these schools had dropped to between 700 and 800 students,
significantly fewer than in the 1830s. The Native Schools Act of 1858 provided annual funding
of £7,000 per school and, in order to speed the process of assimilation, added further
regulations, including that all enrolled students needed to be boarders. By the 1860s, most
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
mission schools had closed and, in 1879, the remaining Native Schools were placed under the
authority of the Department of Education.
The Education Act 1877 introduced compulsory schooling for all New Zealand’s young
people and the British system of schooling was adopted for both Māori and Pākehā (New
Zealanders of European descent) learners. This Act set in law that the institution of schooling
was the preferred education system, introducing compulsory schooling ahead of Great Britain
where it was introduced in the 1880s (Soysal & Strang, 1989).
The factory model of schooling
When the Education Act was passed in New Zealand, compulsory mass schooling was,
internationally, a relatively recent phenomenon. Large formal schools were introduced in
Prussia in the early nineteenth century, the first country to move the responsibility for
education from families to that of the state (Melton, 2001). The Prussian system introduced
compulsory attendance for boys and girls, specific training for teachers, national testing and
a prescribed national curriculum for each grade level – factors which have remained features
of mass schooling across the Western world. The underlying philosophy was that learning is
a regimented activity that occurs in ages and stages. New Zealand was an early adopter of
mass schooling, and “from its inception took on board a set of ‘values’, ‘ideals’ and ‘standards’,
more or less coherent with the cultural history of Britain and Europe, that had evolved over
several hundred years” (Penetito, 2004, p. 90).
As industrialisation took hold, the mass schooling model closely followed the structure
of factories, also a relatively new phenomenon. Within mass schooling, large numbers of
students were placed in grades according to their age and moved through successive grades
as they mastered the curriculum. Education ceased being a family-based activity aiming,
instead, to be impersonal, efficient, and standardised. The term ‘factory model of schooling’
was adopted to describe this system (Callahan, 1962; Labaree, 2010; Leland & Kasten, 2002;
Sleeter, 2015) and, in the early stages of industrialisation, it was a term used with pride. In
1916, an influential educator E. Cubberly (cited by Kliebard, 1971) said: ‘‘our schools are, in a
sense, factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into
products to meet the various demands of life’’ (p.75). Mokyr (2001) refers to the vested
interests of the industrial capitalists in the role of schooling in preparing children for working
futures within their factories. While pride in the term ‘factories’ is no longer part of our
current education rhetoric, there remains a residual theme of pride in schools’ efficiency and
effectiveness in shaping students to meet goals of the State-mandated achievement
outcomes for students.
The factory model of education spread quickly to the United States, Klıebard (1995)
identifying the influence of industrial ‘giants’ in the design of schools that were established
to be as efficient as possible, a practice enhanced by ‘age-grading’ (Leland & Kasten, 2002).
Sleeter (2015) says that “core practices and structures for this purpose, still used today,
include grouping students by age, distributing them into ‘egg crate’ buildings, standardising
curriculum, measuring student learning for purposes of comparison, and standardising
teacher work” (p.112). She reports many criticisms of the model, highlighting three in
particular. Firstly, the model is “highly inequitable, reproducing social stratification based on
race and class” (p.112). Some children are more disadvantaged than others in this system,
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
particularly those who are “stigmatized students of color” (Murphy & Zirkel, 2015, p. 28) and
those with special learning needs (Meyer, 2001; Morris, 2002). Secondly, Sleeter (2015,
p.113) says, “its curriculum is standardised, based on a White upper-middle class worldview
that limits perspectives, funds of knowledge, and intellectual inquiry, and bores the diverse
students in schools.” And, thirdly, it is “oriented around compliance with and maintenance of
the status quo, rather than social transformation” (p. 114).
In New Zealand, the impact of the factory model of schooling on Māori students has
been particularly disadvantageous (Pihama & Lee-Morgan, 2019; Sleeter, 2015). Compulsory
mass schooling was imposed with little evidence of consultation with the Māori population
over their agreement for this model of schooling, despite the Māori population, at the time
of the introduction of the policy, considerably outnumbering the tauiwi (immigrant)
population. The decision that the education system would model that of Europe was a
determined act of colonial oppression through assimilation, an act that has been detrimental
for Māori and for Indigenous people around the world (Shields et al., 2005). As Pihama and
Lee-Morgan (2019) say:
Education was both a target and tool of colonialism, destroying and diminishing the
validity and legitimacy of Indigenous education, while simultaneously replacing and
reshaping it with an ‘education’ complicit with the colonial goals. Schooling as a colonial
structure served as a vehicle for wider imperialist ideological objectives. (p. 21)
The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand education
The Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840, was a formalised agreement between the British
Crown and some chiefs from different iwi (tribal groups). Today the constitution of New
Zealand continues to “reflect the Treaty of Waitangi as a founding document of government
in New Zealand” (The Office of the Governor-General, 2019, p. 1). The Treaty by itself has no
legal standing in New Zealand and can only be enforced when explicitly referenced in an Act
of Parliament (Ministry of Justice, 2019). The Education Act 1989, and subsequent iterations,
places a legal obligation on education institutions to uphold the principles of the Treaty.
Guidance for schools on understanding and enacting their obligations in honouring the
Treaty is provided by the Ministry of Education (2012). Schools are provided with guidance
against three broad principles implicit within the Treaty: partnership, protection, and
participation (Royal Commission on Social Policy, 1988). Strengthening the legal obligation to
enact the principles of the Treaty are the responsibilities incurred as a signatory to the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC). UNCROC was passed by the United
Nations in 1989, and ratified in New Zealand in 1993, the obligations immediately
incorporated into the Education Act. Articles 28 to 31 address a child’s educational rights
(United Nations Human Rights, 1996). These articles state that New Zealand is obligated to
provide an education system that focuses on the holistic development of the child, respects
the child’s culture and provides an education where the cultures of both Indigenous and
tauiwi are acknowledged, valued and prioritised.
A consideration of the factors surrounding the passing of the 1877 Education Act –
including the rich educational framework operating in Aotearoa long before the arrival of
British settlers; the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840; and the passing of the Education
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
Act in 1877 when Māori children far outnumbered British children – raises the question of
why a British system of schooling, derived from a factory model of production was adopted
as the compulsory form of education? Answering this question requires a wider exploration
of the historical and political contexts that were at play when European settlers first arrived
in Aotearoa.
The Doctrines of Discovery
The prevailing political and paradigmatic settings that accompanied the arrival of British
settlers and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi are grounded in historical events dating
back to the fifteenth century. In the 1400s a series of papal bulls (decrees issued by the Pope)
allowed European monarchs to seize lands inhabited by Indigenous peoples if they were the
first European nation to ‘discover’ these lands. For example, in a papal bull, the Dum Diversas
issued in 1452, Pope Nicholas V gave permission for King Alfonso of Portugal to search out
and reduce any “Saracens and pagans and any other unbelievers” to perpetual slavery (Harjo,
2014; Mutu, 2019; Watson, 2010). Under the same pope, this permission was extended in
1455, through a bull called Romanus Pontifex, to give the Catholic nations of Europe authority
over lands discovered during the Age of Discovery. It allowed full seizure of land and the
enslavement of native, non-Christian peoples in Africa and the Americas. Other decrees
followed, further endorsing the right of ‘discoverers’ to seize land and enslave non-White
Indigenous peoples in the name of European, Christian monarchs. In 1496, King Henry VII
issued a decree on behalf of England to allow explorers to claim lands occupied by ‘heathens
and infidels’ on behalf of England (Davenport & Paullin, 1917; Miller et al., 2010; Mutu, 2018).
In 1792, Thomas Jefferson declared that the Doctrine of Discovery would extend from Europe
to the United States government (Dunbar-Oritz, 2014).
Under the Doctrines of Discovery, lands not occupied by White European occupants
were declared empty (terra nullius) and the inhabitants classified as non-human, along with
native flora and fauna. In 1769, Captain Cook claimed New Zealand for King George III. In 1840,
the year the Treaty was signed, Lieutenant Hobson declared the South Island terra nullius
under the same Doctrines (Katene & Taonui, 2018; Mutu, 2018; Ngata, 2019). With the
‘discovery’ of New Zealand by Captain Cook, the Doctrines of Discovery became part of New
Zealand’s legal framework. The Treaty itself had no legal status as exemplified in an 1853
court case Parata vs The Bishop of Wellington. In this case the judge declared the Treaty of
Waitangi ‘a simple nullity’ and found, citing the Doctrines, the only valid title to land was
Crown title (Katene & Taonui, 2018). More recently, the Doctrines of Discovery were cited in
the 2003 Foreshore and Seabed case (Ngati Apa vs Attorney General) and upheld in the
subsequent 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act (Katene & Taonui, 2018; Ngata, 2019).
The underlying tenet of the Doctrines of Discovery, that white nations are able to
‘discover,’ enslave and colonise all Indigenous nations, has permeated the Western world and
the countries they have occupied. In a 2012 meeting of the Permanent Forum of the United
Nations, the Doctrines of Discovery were denounced as the “shameful root of all the
discrimination and marginalization Indigenous peoples face today,” that “encouraged
despicable assumptions … Indigenous peoples were ‘savages’, ‘barbarians’, ‘inferior and
uncivilized’ … [among other] constructs the colonizers used to justify their subjugation,
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
domination and exploitation of the lands, territories and resources of native peoples” (United
Nations, 2012, p. 3).
When the Treaty of Waitangi and the first Education Act were signed, the Doctrines of
Discovery underpinned the prevailing global paradigm and legal context, entitling European
settlers to seize land and resources and to subjugate the Indigenous inhabitants. Colonisation
was seen as means of civilising the natives of the land, a political viewpoint that has remained
current, despite the United Nations denouncing the Doctrines in 2012. Although less visible
in our nation’s rhetoric than talk of the Treaty, the Doctrines have remained highly influential.
In a 2015 interview, Moana Jackson said that “to honour the Treaty, we must first settle
colonisation” (cited in Katene & Taonui, 2018, p.48). For an education system to fairly reflect
both the heritages of New Zealand’s Treaty partners, the Doctrines of Discovery that underpin
the history of colonisation of New Zealand need to be fully acknowledged, addressed and
redressed; the underpinning implications understood in the context of today.
Reinforcing the theory of the hierarchy of races
At the same time as New Zealand’s education system was being established, a theory of the
hierarchy of races was becoming prevalent, aspects of this becoming known in the 1870s as
‘Social Darwinism’ (Williams, 2000). These theories included the belief that some races of
people were superior to others, the White race being the most superior (Claeys, 2000;
Spencer, 1852; Williams, 2000). Darwin believed that the “optimal outcome of human natural
selection would be the triumph of ‘the intellectual and moral’ races over the ‘lower and more
degraded ones’” (Claeys, 2000, p. 237).
These beliefs were prevalent in society and in our schools. Imported textbooks used in
New Zealand schools referred to five great races of men of which the white race was the
greatest (McGeorge, 2012). Textbooks published in New Zealand, from 1905, also affirmed
“the notion of the hierarchy of races” (Consedine & Consedine, 2005, p. 139). British settlers
in New Zealand were portrayed as “naturally superior to Asians and Africans because they
were white [and] superior to other Europeans because they were racially British” (McGeorge,
2012, p. 67). Māori were portrayed as “a very superior savage” (McGeorge, 2012, p. 69).
School Journals, compulsory reading in New Zealand schools from 1914, further reinforced
this idea and the “moral superiority of Britain was asserted as a fact” (Malone, 1973, p. 15).
The promulgation of Social Darwinism continued into relatively recent times, for example, in
1978 the Department of Education recommended a book “The Māori and The Missionary.
This book said the missionaries “went to the aid of the backward races” (Miller, 1954, p.1).
The Social Darwinism concepts of cultural and genetic superiority have underpinned
educational policies (Bishop, 2005; Sullivan, 1994) and remain influential across society today.
Some structural changes have occurred over time, such as the requirement in the
Education Act 1989 for all schools to honour the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi; and the
New Zealand Curriculum vision that “Māori and kehā recognise each other as full Treaty
partners” (Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 8). However, these changes have been
implemented without the acknowledgment of the influences of the Doctrine of Discovery or
Social Darwinism as part of the schooling policy framework and beliefs upon which they are
building. Jackson (2019) says that unless, as a nation, New Zealand acknowledges and
addresses the “mythtakes,” the “deliberately concocted falsehoods to justify a process that
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
is actually unjustifiable” (p. 102), we cannot move forward. These unacknowledged
mythtakes are part of the policy sediment (Ball, 1993) in which newer education policies are
Opportunities for an alternative paradigm
However, there is an alternative paradigm presented within New Zealand’s education system,
that is, for an education that seeks to foster the uniqueness and spiritual connectedness of
every child. The Treaty of Waitangi, despite the contentiousness surrounding the wording
and translations, clearly calls for mana oritē – a mutual respect for the beliefs, values and
heritages of both signatories. A key principle in Te Whāriki, He Whāriki Mātauranga mō Ngā
Mokopuna o Aotearoa, Early Childhood Curriculum is mana atua, whereby “children
understand their own mana atuatanga – uniqueness and spiritual connectedness” (Ministry
of Education, 2017a, p. 35). In te reo, this principle is explained as: “e ai ki tā te Māori he atua
tonu kei roto i te mokopuna ka whānau mai ana ia ki tēnei ao” (Ministry of Education, 2017b,
p. 18). This statement speaks of the godliness or spiritual essence each child inherits from
their ancestors when they are born (see Early Childhood Development, 1999; Rameka, 2015;
Reedy, 2003).
There are challenges, even in the Early Childhood sector, in fully enacting this principle.
Rameka (2015) says there “is little [evidence] to indicate that the spiritual dimensions of the
child or the world are recognised in early childhood education practice,” attributing this to an
education system which is “essentially secular, leaving little room for ideas and beliefs of the
sacred or spiritual” (p. 82). She explains:
Western science has effectively disconnected spirituality from other aspects of
individual and institutional existence, and has embedded belief systems that position
reason, truth and logic over faith and spirituality. As spirituality cannot be proven
scientifically, it is often viewed as illogical and unsophisticated and therefore has no
place in educational theory and practice. (pp. 8283)
The belief that every child is unique and spiritually connected is a key concept in the heritages
of both the signatories of the Treaty. In Te Ao Māori, a common term for children is tamariki.
Pihama and colleagues (2004) explain the concepts behind the term ‘tamariki’ as “Tama is
derived from Tama-te-rā the central sun, the divine spark; ariki refers to senior status, and
riki on its own can mean a smaller version" saying “children are the greatest legacy the world
community has” (p. 22). Within British or Western worldviews children are also considered
very special. The concept that “God created people in His own image” (Genesis 1: 26-27;
James 3:9) is a foundational truth in the Christian and Judaism faiths and embedded in
Western worldviews. Babies of both Māori or Western heritage are treasured – they are held
to be unique, born of greatness and carriers of the divine spark by the loving communities
into which they are born, regardless of the strength of connections to, or belief in, the
religious and cultural connections ascribed to those heritages.
New Zealand schooling documentation, though, provides no explicit guidance on the
ontological positionings or paradigmatic views of the child inherent in the heritages of both
Treaty partners. Instead, the paradigmatic view is that every child must be uniformly shaped
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
by the processes and structures of the factory model of schooling. Within the factory model
paradigm, the State prescribes what should be learnt, to what standard and at what age,
resulting in the child being described in terms of how well they meet the artificially prescribed
requirements and steps required to meet the next requirement. Descriptions of too many
children are firmly rooted in a deficit model, children’s progress defined in terms of what they
need to do next, children viewed as incomplete and imperfect, always needing to achieve the
next curriculum goal or standard. The child is not viewed as having agency over their learning,
but as an empty vessel needing to be filled (see Freire, 1996).
The factory model of schooling also influences views of the purpose of education. This
has resulted in a pervasive discourse that schools have succeeded when the majority of their
students meet the standards of State-set curricula and assessments. Some educators have
resisted this influence and decried its prevalence. For example, Luria and Vygotsky (1992)
argue that the child should be viewed as “… a very special creature with his [sic] own identity.
They decry:
The incorrect belief that children and adults differ only in quantitative terms has
become firmly entrenched in the general consciousness. Its proponents argue that if
you take an adult, make him [sic] smaller, somewhat weaker and less intelligent, and
take away his knowledge and skills, you will be left with a child. (p.62)
The unique policy context in New Zealand, with the requirement to honour the intent of the
Treaty of Waitangi, provides opportunity to draw from our dual cultural heritages. From this
base, educators are positioned to explore and make explicit their ontological positioning
regarding children, for example, do they view all children or students through a lens of mana
atua – that each child is unique and spiritually connected? If the answer is ‘yes,’ how do these
personal beliefs align with structures, policies, expectations and practices in the teacher’s
everyday practice and the child’s everyday experience? Even within a policy context that
directs a factory model as the preferred method of schooling in New Zealand, the
requirement to know and understand one’s personal ontological positioning of the child
could begin to change the educational experiences for all our children. The factory model
could revert to being a process rather than its current position as the historical and pervasive
ontology that is embedded across our schooling system.
Impact on students
Belonging at school
Belonging at school has been defined as a state where children feel accepted, respected,
included, and valued by others at school (Goodenow, 1993, p. 80). When a sense of belonging
is strong, students “view schooling as essential to their long-term well-being,” demonstrated
through their participation in academic and nonacademic pursuits (Willms, 2003, p. 1) and
positive “relations with school staff and other students” (Willms, 2003, p. 8). Sadly, an
increasing number of New Zealand students report a disconnect with schooling. For example,
the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) testing shows that New
Zealand students’ sense of belonging at school has considerably weakened since this was first
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
measured in 2003. In this report, the Ministry of Education compared New Zealand students
responses with those in nine other countries we “commonly compare with” (Ministry of
Education, 2017b, p. 49). New Zealand students were the least positive about their sense of
belonging at school and were noticeably below the OECD average. Across New Zealand
Schools, between 17 and 22 percent of students reported that, at school, they felt:
like an outsider or left out of things,
awkward and out of place, or
lonely (Ministry of Education, 2017b, p. 18)
The sense of alienation that students are reporting – feeling like an outsider at school, feeling
out of place and feeling lonely – provides sobering evidence of a disconnect between a
worldview or paradigm that views children as unique and spiritually connected and their
schooling experience.
Belonging at school for Māori students
Educational outcomes for Māori students in New Zealand schools are, on average,
considerably worse than for Pākehā students. The Ministry of Education reports that, in 2019,
35 percent of students identifying as Māori left school having achieved National Certificate of
Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 3 or above, compared to 56 percent of
European/Pākehā students (Ministry of Education, 2020b). A higher proportion of Māori
students leave school before their 17th birthday than European/Pākehā students – for 2019,
this was 31 percent compared to 17 percent respectively (Ministry of Education, 2020c).
Attendance rates for Māori students are also lower than for European/Pākehā students – in
2019, 44 percent of Māori students ‘attended school regularly’ (defined as those attending
90 percent or more of Term 2) compared to 61 percent of European/Pākehā students
(Ministry of Education, 2020d). A further comparison can be seen in the rate of stand-downs
– in 2019, for Māori students the stand-down rate was 44.3 per 1000 students, compared to
20.9 per 1000 students for European/Pākehā students (Ministry of Education, 2020c).
Māori students have also told educators, over an extended period of time, that
schooling is not a good experience for them. For example, Bishop and Berryman (2006)
concluded, after Māori students were interviewed in 2001, that the students’ experiences
were “overwhelmingly awful, year after year” (p. 251). In late 2015, a series of interviews
were held across the country with senior Māori students (Berryman & Eley, 2018; Poutama
Pounamu, 2017). These students were identified by their school as having achieved
educational success as Māori, in line with the vision statement of Ka Hikitia, the Māori
Education Strategy (Ministry of Education, 2019). The students reported on their own
successes, sometimes despite their schooling experiences, and despite their awareness that
their stories did not represent the experiences of all their Māori peers, even within their own
schools. They told of ongoing pressure from stereotypes about Māori that played out as racial
microaggressions and lateral violence within their schools and communities:
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
People saying stuff like: “Māori can’t do this, can’t do that.”
Just because you’re Māori, it doesn’t mean that you’re dumb. And it doesn’t mean
that you can’t achieve.
If you’re a Māori, you’re probably already put in those classes where they’re not
pushing you to succeed as much, so automatically you do not achieve well. That’s the
overall stereotype of Māori achievement. People aren’t expecting as much of you.
(Berryman et al., 2017; Berryman & Eley, 2018)
The experiences of these students were confirmed in the voices of Māori students reported
in Education matters to Me: Key Insights (Office of the Commissioner for Children & New
Zealand School Trustees Association, 2018). Comments from Māori students in this report
Mainstream is a zoo where I’m surrounded by snakes.
Racism exists; we feel little and bad.
Just because we are Māori doesn’t mean we are stupid.
The experiences of Māori students in New Zealand schools reflects the experiences of
Indigenous and minority students around the world. Murphy and Zirkel (2015, p. 3) have
‘salient concerns’ about belonging in school because some students’ social identities make
them vulnerable to “negative stereotyping and social identity threat – the threat that one’s
social group may be devalued in a particular setting” (see also Steele, Spencer & Aronson,
2002). Despite education systems becoming more culturally, ethnically and linguistically
diverse “rather than benefitting from and learning from each other, we continue to expect
our students to be represented within the same curriculum, pedagogy and testing regime or
we form separate enclaves and the divide becomes even wider” (Berryman et al., 2015).
Berryman and Eley (2019, p. 990) caution against “the notion of belonging at school [being]
posited as having the same meaning and influence on educational experiences for all students
then we are in danger of missing or trivializing the experiences for the marginalized, the
othered or the alienated” (p.1).
Resisting the dominant paradigm
Becoming aware of the dominant paradigms operating across the education system and their
underpinning historical foundations in order to examine one’s own actions, responses and
micro-interactions located within those hegemonies, requires a commitment to one’s own
learning, unlearning and relearning (Wink, 2011). From this learning, new ways of acting and
being can follow: “denunciation is impossible without a commitment to transform, and there
is no transformation without action” (Freire, 1972, p. 60). Specific to New Zealand is the need
for participants to go beyond a surface level of understanding, to challenge the dominant
discourses and to “critically analyze and deconstruct existing hegemonies and practices which
entrench Pākehā-dominant social, economic, gender, cultural and political privilege” (Smith,
1997, p. 47).
Freire (1996) said that all change for social justice required a process of conscientisation,
resistance and transformative action. Through conscientisation those who wish to review
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
their own positioning in classroom micro-interactions are open to becoming aware of what
they have been thinking, what they have held as true and the part they have played in
perpetuating the status quo of the factory model of schooling. A process of conscientisation
means that participants put the problem and their part in the problem at the centre, rather
than an over-simplification of the issues (Smith, 2003). Resistance requires that, having
determined that there is a need for reform, to dissent with or resist the accepted status quo
and to stand against prevailing ontological and epistemological positions. Transformative
praxis is the ongoing practice that ensues from the conscientisation and resistance –
transformative because a new status quo is being enacted, praxis because educative practice
is rooted in sound theoretical research and iterative reflection. The outworking of this critical
process of self-review is, according to Freire, radical hope – the belief that we can, as
individuals, make life better for others, this belief “leading the incessant pursuit of humanity”
(Freire, 1996, p. 64).
An opportunity for this critical process of self-review towards radical hope are provided
through the Poutama Pounamu Blended Learning course. This self-managed, personalised,
year-long PLD experience is specifically designed for slow-burn learn; enabling participants to
engage through a spiralling, ongoing process of conscientisation, resistance and
transformative praxis.
Poutama Pounamu Blended Learning course
The Poutama Pounamu Blended Learning course contains five online modules and three
wānanga. The dual settings, with other learners in marae settings and online, ensure that
students have opportunities for both interpersonal and intrapersonal learning, necessary for
the learning of new praxis to be deeply internalised (Berryman & Wearmouth, 2018; Eley,
2020; Vygotsky, 1980). The underpinning theory of action, drawn from Kaupapa Māori and
critical theories, is based on over 15 years of research into what works best for Māori students
and how this can work more effectively for all. The model is a cascading model of PLD, each
participant sharing their learning with a minimum of three other people in a learning group
they establish. The involvement of a learning group ensures spread across a school or a
community. The group engage with the learning over an extended period of time
(approximately a year), embedding sustainable change as discussed by Timperley, Wilson,
Farrar and Fung (2007). Since the course was introduced, over 400 teachers, school leaders
and principals have participated, spreading the learning to more than 1,500 other school
personnel through their learning groups. Participants’ feedback comments show the impact
of both the personal and institutional changes that have occurred because of their
involvement with this course:
The more I read, the more I find out, the more I want to know. It’s enabled my own
change and awakened my agency to influence others. (Secondary school teacher)
They referred to the transformative change they experienced in their own lives:
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
It was transformational and I realised the first journey I had to take was a personal
one. It was one that each of us had to go on by ourselves. All the staff had to
experience it. (Principal)
It is transformative and moving and becomes much more than professional
development it is personal development on a cognitive, moral and spiritual level.
(Primary school syndicate leader)
The conversations conducted at the wananga had a profound moral effect on me,
which resulted in a strong personal resolve to be more agentic. (Secondary school
And, they told of the discomfort they experienced in this learning journey, resulting in their
personal commitment to enact that transformative change in their teaching practice:
My conscientisation was a deeply uncomfortable, unsettling and challenging
experience. Realising that yes, I had a very strong hand in upholding a system based
on the colonisation, marginalisation and oppression of the indigenous people of our
country was horrifying. (Primary school teacher)
The significant learning I developed … was that I don't only have the right to promote
culturally responsive practice in my kura, but I have a moral responsibility to do so.
(Secondary school teacher)
This learning has sent many educators back into their own master’s study, the first of whom
are expected to graduate in 2021. Melissa Corlett (2020), for example, has published her
experiences in the Poutama Pounamu Blended Learning course, writing of both the challenge
she experienced, her discomfort with the status quo and her confidence that the future can
be better for all students. She concludes:
We must grasp the moral imperative to work hard, be uncomfortable, be brave, and
look deeply. Then we can see our systems for what they are, something that we have
constructed and something we can together deconstruct. Through this journey I have
found the hope that we can collaboratively build education to do better by ori
students, to benefit all learners and the nation. (p. 47)
New Zealand’s current model of state schooling with the attendant beliefs and values has
been in place since 1877. The status quo is well-established and changing the paradigm or
ideological underpinnings of this system requires a change in the attitudes, beliefs and
behaviours of both educators and policy makers. A process of conscientisation and resistance,
leading to transformative praxis, can occur but this takes time and requires multiple
opportunities for individuals to learn about, question and understand the historical, social
and political contexts operating in our educational settings. It also requires specific and
tailored professional development that addresses perceptions and attitudes (Glynn, 2015)
and, in New Zealand, this needs to draw from both Kaupapa Māori and critical theories
(Berryman et al., 2013, 2016; Ministry of Education, 2018). As the Best Evidence Synthesis
New Zealand Annual Review of Education (2020) 25: 95-114
found, sustainable change, involving both hearts and minds, takes time and commitment:
“teachers need to have time and opportunity to engage with key ideas and integrate those
ideas into a coherent theory of practice” (Timperley et al., 2007, p. 22).
Despite this New Zealand-focused research that demonstrates the need for
opportunities for participants to learn, unlearn and relearn, the current model for teacher
PLD is that schools are awarded, through a competitive process, set numbers of contracted
PLD hours. This practice encourages schools to seek efficient ‘bang for the buck’ sources of
PLD. Cheap and seemingly efficient PLD for staff can be one-off workshops or ‘star’ presenters
giving keynote addresses at Teacher Only Days. These one-off events provide little or no
follow-up supporting teachers to deeply engage with complex contexts or to sensitively
challenge their previously unchallenged worldviews. When matters such as the negative
outcomes for Māori students within the school system, confronting racism rife within our
system or learning about the Doctrines of Discovery or Social Darwinism are presented in
tight timeframes with the intention of shocking participants into acknowledging injustice
without an accompanying pathway for transformative praxis we believe this causes undue
harm. The events themselves risk becoming a form of ‘disaster tourism,’ providing shock
value rather than a pathway to radical hope as envisaged by Freire (1996).
New Zealand schools have a legal obligation to uphold the principles of the Treaty of
Waitangi. To truly honour this Treaty, educators are required to draw from the worldviews of
both the signatory partners and to enact these across all aspects of schooling. There is no
doubt that there is much goodwill and many good intentions across New Zealand’s schooling
sector to honour the Treaty and to address the richness of the heritages of both Treaty
partners (Ministry of Education, 2007, 2015, 2019). However, our current model of schooling,
the factory model, is rooted in the context of the Doctrines of Discovery and a theory of Social
Darwinism (Eley, 2020). In this model, the views of the child as imbued with mana atuatanga,
qualities of “uniqueness and spiritual connectedness” (Ministry of Education, 2017a, p. 35),
continue to be suppressed and belittled.
There is, though, considerable room for hope. New Zealand’s Education Act calls for an
honouring of the Treaty of Waitangi and, through that, a recognition of the ontological
positioning of the child in both te ao Māori and Western heritages. The legal basis for a
changed paradigm is in place. Providing a pathway of support, such as provided by the
Poutama Pounamu Blended Learning, towards the changed hearts and minds of educators
and policy makers is necessary to flip the current paradigm. There is, therefore, opportunity
for New Zealand’s education system to be grounded in a paradigm where children are viewed
as miracles carriers of the divine spark and created in the image of Ngā Atua (the Gods)
from both worldviews.
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Elizabeth Eley is Associate Director of Poutama Pounamu: Equity, Excellence and Belonging
within the University of Waikato. Poutama Pounamu focuses on making a difference for
Māori students so they can truly enjoy and achieve education success as Māori. Her PhD
research explores the impacts of the macro-contexts of historical and political influences, and
the micro-contexts of classroom interactions on students’ schooling experiences. Her ongoing
publications are in the areas of school reform, student identity and belonging.
Mere Berryman is a Professor at the University of Waikato. Her early research focused on
collaborations with schools, Māori students, their families and communities through
relational and responsive literacy and behavioral interventions. This work merged with the
inception of Te Kotahitanga, which was further built upon in Kia Eke Panuku. These iterative
research programs aimed to develop culturally responsive and relational pedagogy to
promote Māori students’ educational success as Māori by combining understandings from
kaupapa Māori and critical theories. Ongoing evidence of educational disparities for Māori
continues to make this work a priority. Mere publishes in this field.
... 39 In 2020, the argument about the doctrine of discovery having a role in New Zealand's colonisation entered into the field of education studies, with two educationalists claiming that '[w]ith the 'discovery' of New Zealand by Captain Cook, the Doctrines of Discovery became part of New Zealand's legal framework'. 40 The statement is immediately problematic because the country did not have a legal framework of the sort referred to in this article until 1854 -over eighty years after Cook's arrival. 41 The writers then go on to assert that the 'underlying tenet of the Doctrines of Discovery…[is] that white nations are able to 'discover,' enslave and colonise all Indigenous nations'. ...
Full-text available
Over the last two decades, claims that the Doctrine of Discovery (based on a 1493 papal bull) had some bearing on New Zealand’s colonisation have been gaining force in academic and popular literature, with a nexus emerging between historical and legal analyses of its purported role in British intervention in the country from the eighteenth century. This article explores the bases for these claims, and introduces a distinction between functionalist and intentionalist approaches to interpreting Britain’s colonisation of New Zealand as a means of contextualising and accounting for the explanatory appeal of the Doctrine as a first cause of New Zealand’s colonisation.
... Research into ways school and district administrators can create infrastructures and policies promoting TR environments will support implementation efforts. Relational pedagogies, highlighted here, are emphasized in indigenous health and education practices (Atkinson, 2019;Bishop, 2019;Eley & Berryman) however, there is a gap in literature exploring links between indigenous health concepts and TR principles. Much of the peer-reviewed literature into trauma-informed developments is presented from Anglo-American worldviews. ...
International interest in trauma-responsive schools to counter the impact of trauma on students and educators is unprecedented. The purpose of this exploratory qualitative study across the United States was to inform emergent trauma-responsive practice in Australian schools by learning from the US experience. Using interviews and focus groups, this research sought to describe the core elements of, and key issues for, trauma-responsive school practice, insights into the implementation process and challenges. Findings signal a need for a paradigm shift in education that is based on a relational pedagogy of care focused on educators ‘being’ trauma-responsive rather than ‘doing’. Key elements included collective care, collaboration, and mutuality. Leadership, professional learning, readiness, and teacher wellbeing were emphasized as central drivers of change. Attention is drawn by participants to the intersecting issues of human-rights, cultural trauma, equity, and schools as environments of healing and hope. Knowledge gaps and suggestions for future research are presented.
Full-text available
Māori leaders in New Zealand continue the battle to end British colonisation. The aim is to restore the balance between Māori and the Crown guaranteed in the treaty that Māori and the British Crown agreed to in 1840 so that we can live in peace and harmony. Early European visitors subjected our ancestors to numerous atrocities. Relying on the Doctrine of Discovery, they illegitimately usurped our power and dispossessed us, leaving us in a state of poverty, deprivation and marginalisation. They fabricated myths to justify their criminal activities, set up an illegitimate parliament with unfettered powers, passed laws legalising their crimes and then covered it up with amnesia. They established the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975 to inquire into breaches of the treaty, not realising that it would dismantle the myths and look beneath the amnesia. Governments then instigated the ‘treaty claims settlement’ process to extinguish all Māori claims, remove Māori rights and entrench colonisation. Research undertaken has shown that Māori loathe this process and do not accept that settlements are full and final. Research on constitutional transformation has identified a possible solution. The first step towards that goal involves implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
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The paper discusses the development and conventions for use of a classroom observation tool designed to support secondary school teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand to develop respectful learning relationships and culturally responsive pedagogy in their classrooms. This tool was created within a programme of teacher professional development to support the improvement of indigenous Māori students’ achievement and engagement in learning. The Ministry of Education recognised the need for an extensive change in practices across the entire education sector that required a shift in thinking and behaviour. The observation tool was therefore designed to support formative assessment, focused on change, through deliberate and democratic professionalism. Initial data, whilst not conclusive, suggest this tool has the potential to support more effective cultural relationships and responsive pedagogy in classrooms thus improving learning and engagement among Māori students through increased self-efficacy, pride and a sense of themselves as culturally located.
James Melton's lucid and accessible 2001 study examines the rise of 'the public' in eighteenth-century Europe. A work of comparative synthesis focusing on England, France and the German-speaking territories, this was the first book-length, critical reassessment of what Habermas termed the 'bourgeois public sphere'. During the Enlightenment the Public assumed a new significance as governments came to recognise the power of public opinion in political life; the expansion of print culture created new reading publics and transformed how and what people read; authors and authorship acquired new status, while the growth of commercialized theatres transferred monopoly over the stage from the court to the audience; salons, coffeehouses, taverns and Masonic lodges fostered new practices of sociability. Spanning a variety of disciplines, this important addition to the New Approaches in European History series will be of great interest to students of social and political history, literary studies, political theory, and the history of women.
In this paper, we consider New Zealand’s education system to understand what can happen when we focus only on excellence and students reaching their potential, without simultaneously investing in their sense of belonging and wellbeing. National statistics suggest we are alienating and shortchanging an increasing number of students and, for disproportionate numbers of Indigenous students, these statistics are part of a world trend. The literature, and the students themselves, highlight the need to overturn the underlying racism that persistently disadvantages clearly identifiable groups of students over others. Until we do, using equity and excellence as the most powerful drivers for reform, will continue to promote conditions where our students’ sense of belonging and wellbeing are undermined throughout their education and we will risk, failing to address the ensuing negative statistics. We conclude with a response that we have learned from working with these same students.
Governments in New Zealand have legislated a large number of settlements extinguishing many hundreds of claims taken by Māori against the Crown for breaches of the country’s founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi. They portray settlements as a great success for Māori and the Crown. Māori disagree. Settlements are government-determined and imposed on Māori using a smoke and mirrors approach that masks successive governments’ true intentions: to claw back Māori legal rights; to extinguish all claims; and to maintain White control over Māori. In short, to uphold the Doctrine of Discovery in further breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Māori claimants and negotiators report being enticed into the process by false promises only to become traumatised and disenchanted. Yet many take a pragmatic stance and sign settlements, making the best they can out of a bad deal that goes nowhere near compensating for their actual loss. They know that despite what legislation may say, the settlements are not full, not fair and not final and that, like all previous settlements, they will be revisited. They also know that unless fundamental changes are made to the constitutional makeup of the country, there is no prospect of justice and reconciliation for Māori.
In this chapter, we seek to understand how the gathering of, and listening to the voices of Māori youth, over more than two decades, has influenced change within New Zealand’s education system. We present and interpret what these young Māori have told us in several national initiatives including the most recent report from Office of the Children’s Commissioner and New Zealand’s School’s Trustees Association (2018). The students themselves, consistent with other research, continue to highlight the need to overturn the underlying racism that persistently disadvantages clearly identifiable groups of students. National statistics suggest that, despite the intentions of policy-makers, we are continuing to alienate and short-change an increasing number of students. For many indigenous students, these statistics are part of a world trend. Although the voices of these students have continually highlighted the need for change, we contend that the pace of change has been far too slow. If we as educators continue to promote conditions where students feel they must fit in rather than truly belong, we will continue to undermine their well-being within education and we will risk failing to address the ensuing negative statistics. We conclude with a challenge and response from these same students.
In this paper, the author discusses the development of ideologies about multiethnic educational policy in Aotearoa/New Zealand in terms of four successive stages: assimilation, integration, multiculturalism and biculturalism. He argues that we need to develop a form of biculturalism that fully acknowledges Maori as tangata whenua and which is centred upon a Maori/Tauiwi partnership rather than the present Maori/Pakeha primary relationship. He also suggests we need to articulate clearly what we mean by biculturalism and to understand both the ideologies and philosophies that have been developed during the four stages in order to develop useful policy and practice. The author adopts James Banks’ concept of the multiethnic paradigm as an analytical tool to assist this process.