Compulsory te reo Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand schools

A future-focused analysis




policy, te reo Māori, future policy analysis, language, implementation


While support for compulsory te reo Māori in schools in Aoteaora New Zealand is growing, there is a risk that any future policy could fail, or be only poorly implemented, unless we understand more deeply the factors which shape effective language policy implementation in schools. In this paper we employ a ‘future policy analysis' to explore what it would take to effectively implement a compulsory te reo Māori policy in schools in the future. We report on interviews with twelve purposively selected stakeholders (including Māori, Pākehā, Chinese and Samoan teachers, principals and one Member of Parliament) to elicit from their experiences and reflections the key elements required to implement te reo Māori well in schools. Participants identified that prioritising and valuing te reo Maori was foundational and essential for any potential policy shift at both national and school level. In addition, participants elaborated on how teacher expertise, resourcing, time and leadership support through senior management was integral to successful adoption and implementation. The paper concludes by recommending urgent attention to a range of future-focused strategies that beginning right now could bring about transformational change in our schools and give te reo Māori the mana it deserves.


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Author Biographies

Monica Mercury, Victoria University of Wellington

Monica Mercury is a Kaupapa Māori researcher and Just Therapy Whānau Counsellor with The Family Centre in Lower Hutt. Monica was originally a primary educator in English-medium for 30 years before transitioning to her new role. This article emerges from her experiences as an educator of Māori descent teaching in the mainstream educational environment in Aotearoa New Zealand and the need to find ways to address this complex issue. It has been an honour to collaborate with Dr Wood on this article.

Bronwyn Wood, Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Bronwyn Wood is a Senior Lecturer in Education at Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka, New Zealand. Her research interests lie at the intersection of sociology, geography and education and centre on issues relating to education policy, youth participation and citizenship education.


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