Te rērenga o te rā : autonomy and identity : Māori educational aspirations : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Te Rerenga o te Rā, Autonomy and Identity: Māori Educational Aspirations explores the many factors that impact on Māori educational aspirations. Both historical and contemporary trends and patterns are analysed including comparative case studies of two other indigenous peoples, in order to identify the reasons why there is disjunction between educational policies and Māori aims. The first part of the thesis comprises an historical and contemporary analysis of the relationship between Māori and the State, including a comparative exploration of indigeneity. The second part comprises a critique of Māori education research and argues for an indigenous methodology for understanding the lived reality of Māori 'at school'. The third part comprises critical policy analysis and draws conclusions as to Māori educational aspirations. An extensive examination of policy, together with interviews with forty Māori men and women formed the basis of this research. Major educational policies are reviewed alongside wider policies and politics in order to demonstrate the connections between the position of Māori within Aotearoa - New Zealand, and the likelihood of meeting educational aspirations. The use of narrative is a standard method of information transfer in a Māori cultural context and was deliberately chosen as a research method for that reason. The stories about education from participants, about their own times at school, and about the pursuit of their own goals, add a personal element that bring life to the findings and spirit to the inferences. There is no single factor that will predictably lead to the fulfilment of aspirations but several major conclusions have been drawn. The first is that any analysis of Māori educational performance requires a consideration of the wider policy frameworks within which educational practice is conducted. It is of limited value to assess classroom interaction without being cognisant of the context that gives shape to the practice. The thesis draws a strong link between the degree of Māori enthusiasm for education and the extent of the state's recognition of Māori in its policies and the legislation. The second major conclusion is that socio-economic standing, while an important measure, is not by itself a sufficient indicator of Māori aspirations. Attention is drawn to the difference between attaining socio-economic parity with non-Māori and being able to live as Māori. The third is that the retention of a cultural identity is a critical determinant of Māori satisfaction and the ability to determine directions for the future is another. Both identity and autonomy are seen as significant prerequisites for the development of an education system that is aligned with Māori objectives.