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Task: How did the status of te reo and tikanga Maori in education change from the Education Act 1877 to the current New Zealand Curriculum (2007)?

Click the name here to see original wording of the sources cited in the excerpt below.

Sorrenson (1981) quote 1  |  Sorrenson (1981) quote 2  |  King (2003)  |  Walker (1991)  |
Orange (2011)  |  Ministry of Education (2007)

Background: This is an education assignment in which the students are expected to make a connection between the Treaty of Waitangi - Te Tiriti o Waitangi - and the influence of social history on curriculum development in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Attitudes to te reo and tikanga Māori in education have shifted significantly over time. In the 19th century "it was assumed that the [Māori and European] races could be 'amalgamated', a term which for some at least meant the mixture, by intermarriage, of the two races and ultimately the absorption of the Maoris into a predominantly European population" (Sorrenson, 1981, p. 169). "Education was also expected to encourage assimilation . . . [and] it was assumed that children would be more easily assimilated than their parents, especially if they were segregated in boarding-schools" (Sorrenson, 1981, p. 170). "[T]he medium of instruction in these schools was to be English. Most of those parents who expressed a view on this issue in the 1860s thought that Maori was best learnt at home and English in the schools" (King, 2003, p. 234). By the mid-20th century this "policy of Maori language suppression had taken its toll. In 1900 over 90% of Maori children entered school with Maori as their first language. By 1960 it had fallen to below 25%" (Walker, 1991, p. 8). According to Walker (1991) this "subversion of Maori culture" (p. 8) resulted in "alienating Maori from the social mainstream" (p. 8). In the 1980s education policies began to change as Maori "pressed hard for recognition of Treaty rights in education" (Orange, 2011, p. 244). The Education Act 1989, "brought significant institutional change . . . [and required schools] to address 'equity issues', including the position of Maori people within the education system" (Orange, 2011, p. 244). Today the New Zealand curriculum "reflects New Zealand's cultural diversity and values the history and traditions of all its peoples" (Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 9). It "acknowledges the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and the bicultural foundations of Aotearoa New Zealand" (Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 9). It also ensures "[a]ll students have the opportunity to acquire knowledge of te reo Maori me ona tikanga" (Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 9). This demonstrates that whereas in the past te reo and tikanga Maori were excluded from schools to facilitate assimilation, today the curriculum actively encourages all learners to experience them, so as to promote the principles of inclusion and cultural diversity (Ministry of Education, 2007).

King, M. (2003). The Penguin history of New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: Penguin.

Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand curriculum for English-medium teaching and learning in years 1-13. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.

Orange, C. (2011). The Treaty of Waitangi. Wellington, New Zealand: Bridget Williams.

Sorrenson, M. P. K. (1981). Maori and Pakeha. In W.H. Oliver & B.R. Williams (Eds.). The Oxford history of New Zealand (pp. 168-193). Wellington, New Zealand: Clarendon.

Walker, R. (1991). Liberating Maori from educational subjection (Monograph No. 6). Auckland, New Zealand: The International Research Institute for Maori and Indigenous Education, The University of Auckland.