Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Metamorphosis: Expanding the Concept of Equity in Education

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posted on 2021-11-03, 19:48 authored by Balcombe, Ann

Professional relations and social interaction with the tangata whenua of the area provided access to this novel research project. The researcher was invited to accept a consultancy role to help the community realise their vision for a sports training institute utilising the sports resources that had been built up over a number of decades. In the course of discussions with the researcher, covering a period of six months, this vision changed from a sports institute to the realisation that the community could resource and enjoy the benefits of a more comprehensive education and training institution, a wananga, building on kura schooling models that they had initiated a decade earlier. The wananga was to be established by a Maori hapu for their people specifically, but not exclusively. Other community members would be welcome to participate. It was planned for everyone in recognition of a community that had become increasingly diverse as overseas migrants moved into the area but kawa (customary practice) and governance would remain with the hapu. The project presented the researcher with the opportunity to undertake a piece of socio-educational research. In the course of the research, the researcher developed a Catherine Wheel framework to draw together all the key aspects, namely philosophy, continuous quality improvement, research methodology and research praxis. The research draws on the work of relevant commentators and researchers. It explores the many and varied aspects of historical, educational, political and sociological influences. This research did not seek to analyse and discuss the politics of the researched community. This aspect was not included in the originally agreed upon research proposal approved by the researched community. The nature of the research and the fact that the politics of the community lay outside the scope of this study made the use of the currently popular story telling technique inappropriate. The prevailing theories of postcolonialism and feminism influenced the researcher’s practical approach and her participation. They are also reflected in the text through her interpretation and expression. Postcolonialism is essentially about being aware of not telling anyone what to do and feminist theory as ensuring you tell everyone where you are coming from. Three narratives run through the text. There is a personal narrative, a modernist story of a Pakeha female researcher working several roles within a Maori community. There is a futures oriented story based on the recognition of cultural hybridity which will require educators and trainers to navigate through a sea of texts and to acknowledge a number of non-linear pathways from school to work and from work to retraining. The third is a post modern story of globalisation out of which the researcher has developed an internationally applicable education and training model for use within any community. It recognises new cultural contexts and identities and new forms of power. Case study was the major methodology used with elements of ethnography, action research, grounded theory and evaluation research. The principle aim of the research was to produce a practical pathway model for other community groups to follow. As the consultant of the project, the researcher was asked to develop systems, procedures and processes for the organisation that conformed to NZQA quality assurance requirements so as to enable them to access education funding. The philosophy underpinning the management and administration of tertiary education is based on the principles of continuous quality improvement. The researcher recognised the opportunity to undertake a research study in a unique environment employing qualitative methodologies. All of the methodologies emphasise reflective analysis. This component is mirrored also in the cyclic process of continuous quality improvement, an inherent aspect of NZQA quality assurance. Quality assurance is required for NZQA registration and accreditation as a private training establishment. This study reveals how contemporary Maori socio-political identity positively affects the relative success of community based social and economic movements and explores the implications for academic understanding of identity, bicultural education, curriculum delivery, teaching and learning. Whakapapa and whanaungatanga are central to Maori identity and both inform the view that Maori take of the world around them. Whakapapa refers specifically to genealogy and family tree through both matriachal and patriachal lines and to the order of birth and its significance. It is linked directly to whanaungatanga, the bonds that link Maori with others. The research also presents pragmatic discussions relevant to community-based and non-governmental organisations that support grass roots community development. ‘Community’ is interpreted by the researcher through her experiences as a community educator as well as from the time working with the researched community. Their culture and identity differ from her own and their experiences have impacted differently as a result of cultural barriers and constraints they have experienced in a system different from their own. Identity is dynamic not static according to an individual’s current place in the world. In this text this is explained through changes in the researcher’s own identity. Identity and empowerment are explained from the researcher’s personal point of view and it was never intended that the researcher would interpret either on behalf of the community. Biculturalism or kaupapa karanga rua acknowledges two people, Maori and Pakeha, the signatories of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. It emphasises the key position of Maori as tangata whenua, the people who have had the longest association with the land. Increasing numbers of Pakeha are recognising a politics of difference that involves the acknowledgement of tino rangatiratanga or Maori sovereignty. This is leading to positive actions in the establishment of biculturalism between Maori and Pakeha within institutions, agencies and community initiatives. Maori culture has never been in such a productive space as it is now even though it remains peripheral to the broader mainstream Pakeha culture. It is not simply openings within the dominant spheres that Maori now occupy. The result of the cultural politics of difference and the production of new identities is also contributing to the acceleration of biculturalism. This research highlights the paradoxical fact that out of liberal market economics with a focus on continuous quality improvement comes equity. When applied in the educational context it empowers minority groups to access mainstream resources to establish educational institutions over which they have governance.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education Studies


Hall, Cedric