This thesis examines the complex historical and political processes that helped to forge, shape and renew the Catholic educational mission during a period of significant change, 1943-1965. It utilises a qualitative methodology, including a "situated reading" of documentary, archival, visual and oral accounts to illustrate how Catholic educators worked to improve the educational standards of their schools and to promote the examination success of pupils while protecting distinctive religious and Cultural values and the autonomy of the Catholic education system from state control. The nineteenth-century mission to provide a basic primary schooling to all Catholic pupils and a secondary schooling for the select few was shaped by an Irish and Roman inheritance, diocesan structures, the characteristics of teaching orders and by distinctive religious, cultural and pedagogical values, gendered practices, and the religious formation of Catholic teachers. From 1943 to 1965, the educational mission expanded to provide a secondary schooling for all Catholic pupils. It encompassed four goals: the transmission of faith and cultural practices; the social and educational advancement of all Catholic pupils; their successful integration as citizens in New Zealand society; and the promotion of religious and intellectual leaders. In the context of the 1944 Thomas reforms, Catholic educators defended the autonomy of their schools from state interference and the distinctive characteristics of Catholic education from "secular" values. In the post-war years Catholic teachers resolved tensions between religious and secular goals by infusing curriculum subjects with religious values and promoting a Catholic world view. At the same time they utilised state models of teacher training and the expertise of inspectors to improve the educational standards of Catholic schools while incorporating pedagogical and curriculum advances to ensure the "secular" success of Catholic pupils. This thesis demonstrates issues that cross State-Catholic educational boundaries: the process of educational policymaking, the role of the State in education, issues of citizenship, power, identity, gender and difference. By exploring the political, cultural and religious context of teachers' and pupils' lives, the location of Catholics in New Zealand society and conflicts over educational values it reshapes understandings about the nature and compass of education in New Zealand.
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