A future for Māori education Part I: the dissociation of culture and education

Education is of vital importance to the future of the Māori people; however, Māori education is in a state of flux often described as confused, and problematic. Neither mainstream secondary nor mainstream tertiary education seems to provide ideal education for Māori because of the relatively low success rates for Māori people coming from a Māori background. In this first part of two papers on Māori education in Aotearoa, a number of factors important to Māori education are identified and examined with regard to their significance in the achievement of educational success. The contention is that many problems have arisen because of a system that, for Māori, has generally tried to separate education from Māori culture. This separation has arisen primarily from an unwillingness of government to recognize the importance of Māori culture in the education of Māori people. The educational system in this country has been built according to Eurocentric cultural norms with the hope, and perhaps expectation that Māori will conform. It appears that many fundamental problems have arisen from the attempts by mainstream to build a monoculture, and in the process dissociate Māori culture from education resulting in both the degradation of Māori culture and the disengagement of Māori students from education. The repercussions of this dissociation may be far reaching affecting all aspects of Māori society and health. These ideas may also be relevant to other indigenous peoples who have experienced similar disjunctional processes regarding their culture and education.

Project Team: 

Contact the project author