Study on Maori Education in New Zealand

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At the time of the 2006 Census, there were 565,329 people (14.6 percent of the population) who identified with the Māori ethnic group and usually lived in New Zealand and 643,977 people identified having Māori descent (17.7 percent of the population) . Compared to America and Canada, the substantial indigenous population in New Zealand provides a contrasting set of discourses and developments especially in relation to political recognition as well as language and cultural revival . In fact, the growing population of the Māori people has contributed to the renewal of the treaty rights . It is interesting to note that, while multiculturalism policy in America and Canada is more attentive to immigrants, biculturalism policy in New Zealand is the sharing of power between the Pakeha (European settlers) and the Māori.

2.5.2 Rationale

According to O'Sullivan and Dana (2008), policies of biculturalism were introduced in the 80s, to overcome the extreme social and economic deprivation among Māori. The prominent platform for this policy is the Treaty of Waitangi, an agreement signed in 1840 . Barber(2008) and Ringold(2008), added that biculturalism recognised and integrated Māori language and culture into the formulation of policies. This has allowed Māori people to receive: financial aid to redress their economic gap; and, reimbursement for their land disposition by the New Zealand government .

Brash (2004) from the National Party had criticised biculturalism because he considered the privilege given to Māori as racism. According to Brash, biculturalism favoured the minority over the majority which had later became the subject of marginalisation . However, according to Barber (2008) in the 2005 election, National Party had to form a coalition with the independent Māori party to beat the governing Labour party. They then, had to relax their hard-line policy on race . Totter (2004) added that the success of Brash's appeal partly laid in a strong unease amongst the public because the present generations had to redress the wrongs of the past. The public also had to recreate the nation that should have been built out of the Treaty of Waitangi .

Rata (2003) claimed that biculturalism has created a new tribal elite and a new traditional culture in New Zealand. The new tribal elite were in control of settlements of past injustices and the interpretation of the treaty. They were also responsible for infusing a new traditional culture into the institutions of the state and derailing the social and economic justice goals of Māori inclusion and cultural legitimacy . Tremewan (2005) added that the new elite used the new traditional culture and revived cultural and language to camouflage their class interests. They pursued their interests utilising the Treaty process and, through the idea of group rights. The privileged Māori elite also informed those from lower socio-economic group of their communal nature . However, Sissons (2005) and Anderson (2006) argued that biculturalism has not created new tribal elite and that most tribal leaders do not fit the manipulative image. He added that the standardisation of Māori culture was actually caused by tourism, public education and bureaucracy .

According to Lashley (2006), New Zealand policymakers pursue social justice by implementing reparative and distributive policies aimed for Māori people. Reparative justice usually involves dispossession of property through breach of rights. Meanwhile, distributive justice is the allocation of honour, monetary or other rewards and sanctions either on the basis of need or merit and equality. Distributive justice works on the notion of equal opportunity and the fact that every individual's material rewards and social status corresponds as much as possible to talents and efforts. It often utilise preferential policies to uplift the related socio-economic position of a targeted group. Preferential policies provide material assistance and enhanced opportunity to counter the result of past discrimination to bring society toward equality. However, seventy percent of all Maori people has urbanised and do not affiliate with their tribes. This means that they cannot fulfil the tangible assets requirement. Without proof of previous ownership of tangible assets Māori people are constrained from the compensation due to the marginalization and dispossession. Although all Maori people and their descendant were victims of unlawful land dispossession, only those who are actively affiliated with their tribes, have access to the financial and legal resources required to file a claim. Thus, the economic benefits of the reparative policies by-pass most Maori individually, but goes to the tribal investment capital .

Compared to liberal multiculturalism which emphasised on the granting of rights, critical multiculturalism's principal concern was to address the impact of structural problems such as poverty and the lack of cultural and power representations in providing social justice to the people (Kincheloe and Steinberg (1997). The multidimensional conceptual framework of biculturalism in New Zealand is consistent with the wider principles and practices of critical multiculturalism. This is supported by MacDonald (2006) who claimed that, besides granting legal and political rights to the Māori people, the Māori people were also given the means to address their social and economic problems. A Ministry of Māori Affairs (now, Ministry of Māori Development) was formed to represent Māori interests and give policy advice, while operational programmes were progressively delegated to tribal authorities, which developed their own social and economic programmes . The Māori ethnic group was marginalised during the assimilation process. For reasons of both social justices and national economic well being, Māori aspirations to develop economically are supported and encouraged. New Zealand through its social policies, is working to close the economic gap between Māori and others In mainstream schools, on almost all measures of educational achievement, the average achievement of Māori students is lower than that of non-Māori students. Social justice policies are used to minimize the effect of students' lower socioeconomic status on their access to education, their retention and performance in schools.

2.5.3 Strategy

As a result of assimilation, the Māori language was close to extinction. However, the inclusion of Te Reo Māori (language) as an elective subject in secondary schools was first materialised in 1977, in Ruatoki. The establishment of bilingual schools and the emergence of Māori-medium schools has led to the rapid revival of the language . The Māori language which was close to extinction has reclaimed its position as a prominent language in New Zealand. The programme was so successful that it has become an exemplar to other indigenous societies worldwide .

The idea, the initiative, and the implementation of the language revival revolution in 1982 came from within Māori communities. The revolution marked the thinking shift among the Māori people to take more control of their own aspirations. The initiative to revive the language and culture; and, to transform their own lives was significant. Māori were assuming greater responsibility over the organization and decision-making of their children's education. They had moved out of the current educational system to instil the changes. The change was due to their concern over the loss of their culture, language and educational underachievement of their children .

'Māori -medium programmes' refers to educational initiatives at school level where students learn either some or all of their subjects in the Māori language . Māori -medium programmes include immersion schools; Kura kaupapa Māori; Bilingual schools; Schools with immersion classes; and schools with bilingual classes. The intervention in New Zealand involves Māori students in both Māori medium and mainstream schools. The programmes are managed and constantly evaluated by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand. The intervention has involved a larger percentage of the indigenous population. The admission to Māori medium schools is opened to all students. They have introduced bicultural programmes as early as childcare to late adult, to offset the cumulative disadvantage if they fail to intervene early .

Kura kaupapa Māori are schools which is based on Māori philosophies and values. The schools sit within the New Zealand state schooling system and the principle medium of instruction is Māori language. In 1985, the Māori people funded the first Kura Kaupapa Māori, to cater for graduates of Nga Kohanga Reo (pre-school). Simultaneously, more schools started to offer immersion and bilingual classes. In 1990, the New Zealand government approved state funding for six Kura Kaupapa Māori, a year after the inclusion of the schools into the state educational system .

Most Kura Kaupapa Māori are small, with an average of 84 students, compared to the other state schools which has an average of 267 students. There were 69 kura kaupapa Māori in 2009, with 5850 students which accounts for around 3 percent of all Māori student schools enrolments. Māori medium education in the form of immersion schools attracted another 12 percent of Maori students. The remainder are enrolled in mainstream classes. In July 2009, there were 25,349 (15.2%) Māori learners in Māori medium education .

Ka Hikitia is an ongoing project that provides yearly progress against Māori Education Plan targets such as percentage of school leavers qualified to attend university. One of the targets is to increase the percentage of graduates from Māori medium programmes with qualification such as university entrance. In 2007, the percentage of high school graduates qualified to attend university from Māori medium education and non-Māori English medium, were 42.8% (151) and 43.8% (20,128) respectively .

Te Kotahitanga (2004-2008) is a teacher development initiative targeted for high school teachers with a focus on Years 9-10. Its purpose is to help teachers improve achievement of Māori students by focusing on relationships between themselves and the students within a cultural pedagogy of relations. This strategy aimed to investigate how to improve the educational investment of Māori students in mainstream high school, by involving the Māori students and other stakeholders in their education. Their narratives dictated the development Te Kotahitanga project through the Effective Teaching Profile .

2.5.4 Research on the Strategies

Māori-medium education has successfully addressed the language shift and loss of an indigenous language, but there remains an ongoing lack of information on the factors that contribute directly to the educational effectiveness of particular Māori medium programmes, and the related academic outcomes of their students .

Murray (2007) compares achievements of Māori students' from Māori-medium education, and in mainstream education. It utilises the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) qualification, the University Entrance (UE) award, the Literacy and numeracy requirements for NCEA and achievements in core subjects .The findings showed that candidates from the Māori medium programme were achieving equally well as Māori candidates in mainstream schools. The majority of students at these schools gained NCEA qualifications. Although most of the candidates gained credits in Māori language, English and Maths, less than 40 percent of them gained credits in science . The study used reliable success indicators such as standardised testing results from NCEA qualification and UE awards. It has also successfully compared the success rate of students from both types of schools. However, the small number of students in Maori-medium schools might inflate the result from Māori medium schools.

The Ministry of Education measured progress against Ka Hikitia - Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008 -2012 through the Ngā Maeata Matauranga. In order to provide a common language and clear definitions of what constitutes effectiveness and progress, the Ministry of Education has chosen to use evaluative rubrics. The rubrics illustrate what is meant by effectiveness and reflect identity, language and culture as essential ingredients for all learners. As a tool it helps: to interpret findings from multiple sources; to collect data and other information; and, to report how much progress has been achieved towards the key outcome of Māori students enjoying educational success as Māori. The 2008/2009 report tracked the beginning of system change from the 2008 implementation of Ka Hikitia and shows the education sector has made some progress in the 12 month period. In 2008, Māori school leavers with NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) level 2 or above increased to 50.4 per cent from 43.9 per cent in 2007. In the same year, NCEA data continued to show strong patterns of achievement among Māori learners attending secondary schools, where Māori culture and language were the main approaches of teaching and learning . The study has chosen a reliable success indicator, which is the NCEA result. The study was also multidimensional because it evaluate the cultural enrichment programme in schools.

The evaluation of Te Kotahitanga: 2004-2008 involved both quantitative and qualitative data collected from the 22 schools which included perceptions from the participants, individual school review and national Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results. The samples include both co-ed and single-sex schools in the sample. Data prior to the initiation of Te Kotahitanga were gathered in 2009 from these schools to provide baseline data. Classroom observations were done before and after the implementation of the initiatives to investigate the impact of the development model. Student outcomes were gathered through multiple sources such as student achievement, student behaviour and student attitudes about their learning. Students' attitude about their learning was also collected through interviews with family members and school personnel. The study showed that 75 percent of the teachers have implemented and valued the Effective Teaching Profile (ETP) in the classrooms, and positive academic results were also noted . The use of both co-ed and single-sex school provides better coverage for the sample. The 4 year time frame was too short to trace any progress that directly resulted from the development model.


The percentage of school leavers qualified to attend university is a success indicator that leads to social mobility. The cultural perpetuation in Māori immersion and bilingual schools have proven to be effective, since the percentage for university entrance from Māori immersion and bilingual schools was only 21% in 2002 . The interventions involved the students and teachers alike. Rate of gain was predetermined by the Ministry of education yearly, such as the percentage of increase in NCEA exam results. However, the Māori- medium programme report only compares retention rates for 17 ½ -year old and percentage of school leavers with NCEA Level 2 (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) between Māori and non-Māori nationwide. Without retention rates and percentage of school leavers with NCEA from Māori immersion and bilingual schools it is difficult to gauge the benefits of Māori medium education to the group.

The Te Kotahitanga study has shown that individual and group interviews are crucial to gain a comprehensive perspective on students' perspective and experience. The study has also indicated that it is best to include both co-ed and single sex schools in the sample of my study. Ka Hikitia study has proven that standard national examination results are a reliable success indicator, notably the university entrance award. However, the evaluation of the residential school programme in Malaysia will not involve any pre-determined rate of gains as in the Ka Hikitia study.