Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Tātai Kōrero i Ngaro, Tātai Kōrero e Rangona: Legitimation and the Learning of Curriculum Mathematics in an Indigenous Māori School

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posted on 2021-11-15, 14:11 authored by Tweed, Brian

In this thesis, the learning of conventional curriculum mathematics in indigenous Māori schools is conceptualised as a site of struggle within the wider context of a national New Zealand education system. For example, the research literature documents the effects of inadequate mathematics education resources, detrimental impacts on the nature of traditional Māori language and cultural practices, and concerns about under-achievement of Māori students in mathematics and access to powerful societal knowledge. The thesis aims to uncover a causal mechanism for the struggle with mathematics education in one Māori school.  Empirical data about mathematics learning activities are examined using a theoretical perspective strongly influenced by Dialectical Critical Realism. The methodological frameworks are based on Basil Bernstein’s sociology of education, Systemic Functional Linguistics and Legitimation Code Theory. Using these theoretical and methodological tools, empirical data are related to deeper-level ontological determinations which underpin practices in the Māori school.  The major conclusion of the thesis is that struggle derives from two conflicting ontological determinations about the nature of a person. Mathematics education tends to construe people, and create subjectivities, in terms of their knowledge. The ethos of the Māori school considered in this thesis tends to construe people, and create subjectivities, in terms of their genealogically-embedded, unique, material and spiritual natures.  Based on this conclusion, the thesis indicates some potential consequences and future developments of mathematics education in Māori schools. These developments may be thought of in general terms as a disengagement from current relations with mathematics education, an establishment of autonomy, and a re-engagement with mathematics on different terms.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education


Higgins, Joanna; Kidman, Joanna