Perceptions of the Treaty/te Tiriti : a study of how education changes students' perceptions of the current relevance of the Treaty of Waitangi/te Tiriti o Waitangi : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Policy at Massey University, Albany Campus
The issues surrounding the Treaty of Waitangi/te Tiriti o Waitangi are a major concern in New Zealand society today. Regrettably, most New Zealanders do not know the history relating to these issues and are therefore unable to carry out informed debate on the current relevance of the Treaty of Waitangi/te Tiriti o Waitangi or fully understand the basis of Maori grievances. Education is an important tool which can be used to give society a more balanced understanding of the issues. Over the last twenty-five years a number of both Maori and Pakeha groups have been in the forefront of raising New Zealanders' consciousness of the unequal social, economic and political outcomes of Maori in comparison to other New Zealanders. Many of these groups have been directly agitating for change while other groups have been involved with anti-racist education and, Treaty/Tiriti. However, little research has been done to ascertain whether these actions are effective in changing people's perceptions of the current relevance of the Treaty/te Tiriti. This mainly qualitative study describes the perceptions of first year tertiary students of the current relevance of the Treaty/Tiriti, the education process they encountered through their first year of study and the degree to which their attitudes and perceptions changed as a result of education in this subject. The thesis considers the cultural aspects that are instrumental in forming these perceptions by examining the influence of family and friends, school, the media and the current debate on Treaty/Tiriti issues and recent Maori "activism." By comparing the two different educational approaches observed in this study, the thesis develops an understanding of the necessary criteria for effective education on the Treaty of Waitangi/te Tiriti o Waitangi, which is likely to lead to changes in perceptions and attitudes, so that changes in the structures of society can ultimately be instigated. The thesis concludes with recommendations for policy and future research.