Apiianga no te oraanga akapuapinga e te taporoporo i te ipukarea : education as sustainable development : Mangaia, Cook Islands : a dissertation presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Sustainable development (SD) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) became prominent in the 1990s. Problematically, these western centric constructs have sometimes been used to justify greater economic growth despite concern about the environment. Simultaneously, greater awareness of the pivotal role culture plays in development has demanded the rethinking of SD in terms of culturally responsive and contextually relevant ‘alternatives to’ development. Using the case of Mangaia in the Cook Islands the aim of this research was to draw out Mangaians own visions for SD and their consequent expectations for the type of ESD delivered to students in the classroom. Situating the research within a hopeful postdevelopment framework a culturally responsive, open ended, critical research methodology was used to gain an understanding of what constitutes a Mangaian SD worldview. Using participatory semi structured interviews underpinned by Mangaian uriuri manako (reflective problem solving) preliminary frameworks for Mangaian SD and ESD were co-constructed. This thesis highlights that to Mangaian people SD is complex and multi modal consisting of an indigenous development centred on oraanga Mangaia and alternative modernities, embedded in culture, operating at the margins of the global economy. This Mangaian view of SD, interacting with externally driven development, is continually reinvented by the Mangaian people using both indigenous and western knowledge, in response to issues of sustainability. The study argues that current western centric ‘Education about’ and ‘Education for’ SD programmes do not reflect the cultural and contextual reality of SD in the Global South. Instead, Education as Sustainable Development (EasSD) is presented as a novel concept, which embraces learning taking place within culture and is able to respond to the context and dynamism of hopeful post-development settings: it is argued that this approach would provide students with the knowledge to be able to fashion community-based sustainable futures. An EasSD approach would expose students to a broader range of livelihoods options and have the ability to strengthen a student’s language, culture and identity while potentially improving their academic outcomes. A strength based implementation that draws on the support of all development and education stakeholders offers the best chance of actualising EasSD and so empowering students with the ability to participate in, and lead, their own communities’ SD.
Listed in 2016 Dean's List of Exceptional Theses
Education, Sustainable development, Cook Islands, Mangaia, Dean's List of Exceptional Theses