Maori Education in 1991: A Review and Discussion

  • Kathie Irwin


So much has happened in education in the past few years that it is extremely difficult to know, even at a basic descriptive level, what constitutes the full range of programmes coming under the rubric of “Maori education”, in formal, institutional contexts as well as in non-formal community based ones, let alone to review or offer critical analysis of them. We need to do urgent work just to establish what constitutes Maori education. Many new developments are a long way ahead of publications about them. Indeed, the published literature on Maori education is behind the cutting edge of change as many of the most exciting innovators in Maori education are so busy there seems little opportunity for them to take time out, to reflect, and to write in depth about their work.

At this crucial time in Maori education, we need to identify and analyse the totality of what counts as “Maori education”, the good news and the bad, to provide a balanced view. We need to identify success in Maori education at this time, as much as if not more than we need to identify failure. We have had the “bad news” for years, indeed, there is a whole educational industry which has grown around it. This is not to deny the urgency of the need to keep addressing the areas of Maori education which remain serious concerns. The Education Gazette of March 15, 1991 identified the following key policy issues as critical to Maori education:

1. achievement rates of Maori students are low in comparison with other groups in New Zealand, and the gap is widening;
2. the Maori language is facing extinction;
3. there is debate about whether mainstream education or separate structures offer the most promising solutions for improving achievement rates and retaining the Maori language.

But if justification can be made for continually funding the educational enterprise which is centred on Maori educational failure, surely an equally powerful argument, if not more so, can also be made for funding a new enterprise which is concerned with Maori educational success. This paper aims to critically review and analyse, as completely as is possible, given the constraints identified above, Maori education in 1991. Though a difficult aim for a short paper like this, anything less at this time, it seems to me, would do the breadth and depth of development that is Maori education in the nineties a disservice...


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Kathie Irwin
How to Cite
IRWIN, Kathie. Maori Education in 1991: A Review and Discussion. The New Zealand Annual Review of Education, [S.l.], n. 1, oct. 1991. ISSN 1178-3311. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 21 oct. 2020. doi:


Maori Education