Paradigm lost

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




education history, education policy, Māori students' experiences, critical theories


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.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Elizabeth Eley, University of Waikato

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, University of Waikato

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.


Ball, S. J. (1993). What is policy: Texts, trajectories and toolboxes. The Australian Journal of Education Studies, 13(2), 10–17. DOI:

Barrington, J., & Beaglehole, T. (1974). Maori schools in a changing society: An historical review. New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

Berryman, M. (2008). Repositioning within indigenous discourses of transformation and self-determination. (Doctoral thesis). University of Waikato.

Berryman, M., & Eley, E. (2018). Gathering and Listening to the Voices of Māori Youth: What Are the System Responses? In R. Bourke & J. Loveridge (Eds.), Radical Collegiality through Student Voice: Educational Experience, Policy and Practice (pp. 103–126). Springer. DOI:

Berryman, M., & Eley, E. (2019). Student belonging: critical relationships and responsibilities. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 23(9), 985–1001. DOI:

Berryman, M., Eley, E., & Copeland, D. (2017). Listening and learning from rangatahi Māori: The voices of Māori youth. Critical Questions in Education (Special Issue), 8(4), 476–494.

Berryman, M., Eley, E., Ford, T., & Egan, M. (2016). Going beyond the personal will and professional skills to give life to Ka Hikitia. Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice, 30(2), 56–68.

Berryman, M., Nevin, A., SooHoo, S., & Ford, T. (2015). Relational and responsive inclusion: Contexts for becoming and belonging. Peter Lang Publishing. DOI:

Berryman, M., SooHoo, S., & Nevin, A. (2013). Culturally Responsive Methodologies. Emerald Group Publishing. DOI:

Berryman, M., & Wearmouth, J. (2018). Development of an Observation Tool Designed to Increase Cultural Relationships and Responsive Pedagogy to Raise the Achievement of Maori Students in Secondary Classrooms in Aotearoa New Zealand. Journal of Education and Development, 2(2), 32–45. DOI:

Bishop, R. (2005). Pathologizing the lived experiences of the indigenous Māori people of Aotearoa / New Zealand. In C. Shields, R. Bishop, & A. E. Mazawi (Eds.), Pathologizing Practices: The Impact of Deficit Thinking on Education (pp. 55–84). Peter Lang Publishing.

Bishop, R., & Berryman, M. (2006). Culture speaks: Cultural relationships and classroom learning. Huia Publishers.

Callahan, R. E. (1962). Education and the cult of efficiency. University of Chicago Press.

Calman, R. (2012). Māori education – mātauranga – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand [Web page]. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

Claeys, G. (2000). The ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and the Origins of Social Darwinism. Journal of the History of Ideas, 61(2), 223–240. DOI:

Consedine, R., & Consedine, J. (2005). Healing our histories: The challenge of the Treaty of Waitangi (2005 ed.). Penguin Books.

Corlett, M. (2020). Building the moral imperative to do better by Māori students: A Pākehā teacher’s reflection. SET: Research Information for Teachers, 2, 42–48. DOI:

Davenport, F. G., & Paullin, C. O. (1917). European Treaties Bearing on the History of the United States and Its Dependencies. (Vol. 1). Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1917-1937.

Dunbar-Oritz, R. (2014). An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Beacon Press.

Early Childhood Development. (1999). Ahuru moowai – Parents as first teachers. Early Childhood Development.

Education Act 2020, s3, 33, (New Zealand).

Education Act 2020, s3, 35, (New Zealand).

Eley, E. M. A. (2020). Fanning the divine spark: Gaining understandings of micro-interactions in New Zealand classrooms. (Doctoral thesis). University of Waikato.

Freire, P. (1972). Cultural action for freedom. Penguin Press.

Freire, P. (1996). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Continuum Publishing. DOI:

Glynn, T. (2015). Culturally responsive inclusion: On whose terms? In M. Berryman, A. Nevin, S. SooHoo, & T. Ford (Eds.), Relational and responsive inclusion: Contexts for becoming and belonging (pp. 27–46). Peter Lang Publishing.

Goodenow, C. (1993). Classroom belonging among early adolescent students: Relationships to motivation and achievement. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 13(1), 21–43. DOI:

Harjo, S. S. (2014). Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States & American Indian Nations. Smithsonian Books.

Jackson, M. (2019). In the end ‘the hope of decolonization’. In E. McKinlay & L. Smith (Eds.), Handbook of Indigenous Education (pp. 101–110). Springer Nature. DOI:

Katene, S., & Taonui, R. (2018). Conversations About Indigenous Rights: The UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People and Aotearoa New Zealand. Massey University Press.

Kliebard, H. (1971). Bureaucracy and curriculum theory. In V. Haubrich (Ed.), Bureaucracy and Schooling (pp. 74–93). ASCD.

Klıebard, H. (1995). The struggle for the American curriculum (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Labaree, D. F. (2010). How Dewey lost: The victory of David Snedden and social efficiency in the reform of American education. In Pragmatism and Modernities (pp. 163–188). Brill Sense. DOI:

Leland, C. H., & Kasten, W. C. (2002). Literacy education for the 21st century: It’s time to close the factory. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 18(1), 5–15. DOI:

Luria, A., & Vygotsky, L. S. (1992). Ape, Primitive Man, and Child Essays in the History of Behavior (Evelyn Rossiter (trans.)). Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Malone, E. (1973). The New Zealand School Journal and the imperial ideology. New Zealand Journal of History, 12.

McGeorge, C. (2012). Race, empire and the Maori in the New Zealand primary school curriculum 1880–1940. In J. Mangan (Ed.), The Imperial curriculum. Racial images and education in the British colonial experience. Routledge.

Melton, J. (2001). The Rise of the Public in Enlightenment Europe. Cambridge University Press. DOI:

Meyer, L. H. (2001). The impact of inclusion on children’s lives: Multiple outcomes, and friendship in particular. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 48(1), 9–31. DOI:

Miller, H. (1954). The Māori and the missionary. School Publications Branch, Department of Education.

Miller, R. J., Ruru, J., Behrendt, L., & Lindberg, T. (2010). Discovering indigenous lands: The doctrine of discovery in the English colonies. Oxford University Press. DOI:

Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum. Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Education. (2012). The New Zealand Curriculum update: The New Zealand Curriculum Treaty of Waitangi principle (No. 16; Te Kete Ipurangi).

Ministry of Education. (2015, September). The National Education Guidelines. Education in New Zealand.

Ministry of Education. (2017a). Te Whāriki early childhood curriculum/He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa (pp. 1–72). Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Education. (2017b). PISA 2015: New Zealand students’ wellbeing report (pp. 1–54). Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Education. (2018). Te Hurihanganui: A blueprint for transformative system reform (pp. 1–28). Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Education. (2019). Ka Hikitia — Accelerating Success 2013–2017. Education in New Zealand.

Ministry of Education. (2020a). Homeschooling. Education Counts.

Ministry of Education. (2020b). Ministry of Education - Education Counts. Statistics: Indicators - School Leavers with NCEA Level 3 or Above.

Ministry of Education. (2020c). Ministry of Education - Education Counts. Statistics: Indicators - Student Participation and Engagement.

Ministry of Education. (2020d). Ministry of Education - Education Counts. Statistics: Indicators - Students Who Attend School Regularly.

Ministry of Education, E. (2020e). Ministry of Education - Education Counts. Education Counts: School Rolls.

Ministry of Justice. (2019). Treaty of Waitangi | New Zealand Ministry of Justice. The Basis for All Law - the Treaty of Waitangi.

Mokyr, J. (2001). The rise and fall of the factory system: technology, firms, and households since the industrial revolution. Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, 55(1), 1–45. DOI:

Morris, S. (2002). Promoting social skills among students with nonverbal learning disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 34(3), 66–70. DOI:

Murphy, M., & Zirkel, S. (2015). Race and belonging in school: How anticipated and experienced belonging affect choice, persistence, and performance. Teachers College Record, 117, 1-40.

Mutu, M. (2018). Behind the smoke and mirrors of the Treaty of Waitangi claims settlement process in New Zealand: no prospect for justice and reconciliation for Māori without constitutional transformation. Journal of Global Ethics, 14(2), 208–221. DOI:

Mutu, M. (2019). ‘To honour the treaty, we must first settle colonisation’ (Moana Jackson 2015): the long road from colonial devastation to balance, peace and harmony. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 49(sup1), 4–18. DOI:

Ngata, T. (2019). James Cook and the Doctrine of Discovery – 5 Things to Know. The Non-Plastic Maori.

Office of the Commissioner for Children, & New Zealand School Trustees Association. (2018). Education matters to me: Key Insights (pp. 1–48).

Penetito, W. (2004). Research and context for a theory of Maori schooling. Intercultural Communication, 89–109.

Pihama, L., & Lee-Morgan, J. (2019). Colonization, Education, and Indigenous Peoples. Handbook of Indigenous Education, 19–27. DOI:

Pihama, L., Smith, K., Taki, M., & Lee, J. (2004). A literature review on kaupapa Maori and Maori education pedagogy. Prepared for ITP New Zealand by The International Research Institute for Maori and Indigenous Education (IRI).

Poutama Pounamu. (2017). Listening to Students. Poutama Pounamu: Equity, Excellence and Belonging.

Rameka, L. (2015). Te Ira Atua: The spiritual spark of the child. He Kupu, 4(2), 82–92.

Reedy, T. (2003). Toku rangitiratanga na te mana-matauranga “Knowledge and power set me free…”. In J. Nuttall (Ed.), Weaving Te Whāriki (pp. 51–77). New Zealand Council of Education Research.

Royal Commission on Social Policy. (1988). The April Report, Volumes I to IV. Royal Commission on Social Policy.

Shields, C., Bishop, R., & Mazawi, A. E. (2005). Pathologizing practices: The impact of deficit thinking on education. Peter Lang.

Simon, J. A., & Smith, L. T. (2001). A civilising mission? Perceptions and representations of the native schools 1867 to 1969. Independent Publishers Group.

Sleeter, C. (2015). Multicultural Education vs. Factory Model Schooling. In H. Baptiste, A. Ryan, B. Arajuo, & R. Duhon-Sells (Eds.), Multicultural education: A renewed paradigm of transformation and call to action (pp. 111–130). Caddo Gap Press.

Smith, G. (1997). The development of kaupapa Maori: Theory and praxis. University of Auckland.

Smith, G. (2003). Kaupapa Maori theory: Theorizing indigenous transformation of education and schooling. [Conference presentation] New Zealand Association of Research in Education and Australian Association of Research in Education Joint Conference, Auckland, New Zealand.

Soysal, Y. N., & Strang, D. (1989). Construction of the first mass education systems in nineteenth-century Europe. Sociology of Education, 62(4), 277–288. DOI:

Spencer, H. (1852). A theory of population, deduced from the general law of animal fertility. Westminster Review, 1, 496-514.

Steele, C. M., Spencer, S. J., & Aronson, J. (2002). Contending with group image: The psychology of stereotype and social identity threat. Academic Press. DOI:

Sullivan, K. (1994). Bicultural education in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Establishing a tauiwi side to the partnership. New Zealand Annual Review of Education, 3, 191–222. DOI:

The Office of the Governor-General. (2019). New Zealand’s Constitution. The Constitution of New Zealand.

Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Farrar, H., & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES). Ministry of Education.

United Nations. (2012). ‘Doctrine of Discovery’, Used for Centuries to Justify Seizure of Indigenous Land, Subjugate Peoples, Must Be Repudiated by United Nations. United Nations Meeting Coverage and Press Releases.

United Nations Human Rights, Office of the Human Rights Commissioner. (1996). Convention on the Rights of the Child. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1980). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Soubner (eds.)). Harvard University Press. DOI:

Watson, B. A. (2010). The impact of the American Doctrine of Discovery on native land rights in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Seattle UL Review, 34, 507.

Williams, R. (2000). Social Darwinism. In J. Offer (Ed.), Herbert Spencer: Critical Assessment. (pp. 186–199). Routledge Press Ltd.

Willms, J. D. (2003). Student engagement at school: A sense of belonging and participation. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Wink, J. (2011). Critical pedagogy: Notes from the real world (4th ed.). Pearson.