Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Navigating Uncharted Waters: Teachers Collaborating Across Difference

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posted on 2021-11-05, 01:18 authored by Hynds, Anne

This thesis provides a unique navigational story which describes my own careful exploration of a collaborative dynamic when culturally diverse teachers worked together on a unique professional development initiative. Between 2001 and 2003 the Ministry of Education in Aotearoa/New Zealand funded the first phase of an action research initiative, Te Kauhua/Maori in the Mainstream Pilot Project, in a number of schools across the country. This initiative aimed to improve teaching practice and outcomes for Maori students through the development of collaborative partnerships between MÃ ori and non-Maori within participating school communities. I worked to gather the stories of teachers' collaborative partnership work, from various perspectives over a period of two years, in two schools which had taken part in this first phase of this government funded project. The immediate result of such collective work was a commitment to work together for change and improvement in practice, and an apparent transformation in the thinking and practices of many teachers. My initial analysis highlighted partnership mechanisms and processes which held much promise and which had enabled the beginnings of change within and across both school communities. However as I continued my investigation over time I came to realise that sustaining change and development in schools, targeted at student groups who have been marginalised in the education system for a long time, was more complex than I first realised. Beneath the surface, in both schools, were submerged influences which militated against continuation and acceptance of such collaborative partnership work within and across both cultural communities. It became increasingly clear that a lack of shared vision across the schools generally, together with active resistance on the parts of particular groups, contributed to destroying the respect, trust and partnership that I thought had been established within the staff communities. This thesis therefore outlines the opportunities, challenges and threats to collaborative partnership work that aims to improve practice and outcomes for culturally diverse students.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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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


Craig, Barbara; Willis, Deborah