Bicultural development for teachers and students in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Is it working?

Leeanne Marie Campbell Early Childhood Professional Development provider
Diane Gordon-Burns Independent researcher

Peer-reviewed paper: Vol 5, No 2 - Nov 2017

This paper offers by way of a small sample of newly graduated early childhood teachers their opinions about their bicultural development, ability, knowledge, confidence, motivations and the relevance of bicultural training in terms of preparing them for the workplace. We also examine the students’ thoughts in regards to their further development and the types of support they had encountered or which they believed would benefit them in their work in early childhood centres. We hope that the article is a provocation to teachers and leaders to consider how they support Māori children and their teachers in education. This paper, therefore, also examines significant documents that pertain to teachers’ responsibility in response to education for Māori children, Māori language and the integration of Māori culture in Aotearoa/New Zealand early childhood centres.


This article is the fourth in a series that the authors have written in conjunction with a four-year longitudinal study. The relevant history of the pilot study, including ethics, the methods, and findings for this longitudinal project can be found in the following publications: Biculturalism in early childhood education in Aotearoa/New Zealand: A consideration of attitudes, policy and practice, and, Indigenous rights in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Students’ encounters with bicultural commitment. Two of these articles were published in 2014.

The study has followed a group of students from their first year of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) when we gained an insight into their understandings, beliefs and experiences with ngā ao Māori (Māori worldviews) including bicultural (knowledge and understanding of two cultures - Māori and Pākehā) and bilingual (knowledge and understanding of two languages - Māori and Pākehā) matters. The students were surveyed again in their third year of training at which point we heard about what they felt had made a difference (positive or negative) for their bicultural and biliteracy development during their three years of training as early childhood teachers. A third survey was sent to the newly graduated teachers in 2014 which asked them to examine and articulate their opinions about their bicultural development: their bicultural ability, knowledge, confidence and motivations. The teachers had then been teaching for 6 - 12 months. By way of the last survey also, we noted the students’ ideas about their ongoing development and support once they were in the workforce. We asked their opinions about the relevance of their training in terms of preparing them for the workplace in bicultural practices. We also wanted to know how the now-practicing teachers felt they had been supported in their endeavours to develop their own bicultural and bilingual literacy in the first year of their practice.

Huhana Forsyth, a senior lecturer in the School of Education at Te Kura Mātauranga, Auckland University of Technology and Gary Leaf, who wrote from his personal experiences as a Māori parent within Kōhanga Reo, in 2010 commented that even though there are regulations and a bicultural curriculum in place in schools and early childhood centres, a bicultural approach to practice is not guaranteed. This has been our experience also. In this particular article, we look more carefully at what may support bicultural and bilingual education development for teachers and educational facilities. In offering this research and our thoughts based on our experiences, we join many others who have concerns about the intergenerational effects of monocultural education (see for example Ministry of Education [MoE], 2009, 2011; Skerrett, 2007). We end this article with what we hope will be some practical solutions and points for consideration within early childhood centres and schools.


The New Zealand Teachers Council [NZTC] (2007), through the Registered Teacher Criteria (RTC) (NZTC, 2009) and the Graduating Teacher Standards (GTS) (NZTC, 2007), set expectations for graduating teachers to understand and demonstrate commitment to ngā ao Māori, and to inform their practice in educational settings. More specifically, the criteria require teachers to “work effectively” biculturally, “to practise and develop relevant use of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga-ā-iwi” (principles, protocols and practices of the iwi - Māori tribes - of the local community), and to “specifically and effectively” attend to the educational aspirations of Māori students and their whānau (NZTC, 2009, p. 4). These directives seem clear to us: bicultural and bilingual competence is an expectation amongst the teaching profession.

The acquisition of students’ knowledge and skills during their three years of ITE is defined by specific information based on facts, theories and principles that are grounded in Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the notion of Crown partnership with Māori. The Education Review Office [ERO] (2013) state that this partnership needs to be reflected in the practices of early childhood centres. Further, ERO highlights that “collaborative practices between” centres and whānau are expected for the “wellbeing of Māori children” (p. 7). ERO further explain that “the wellbeing and learning of Māori children is located in their culture, language and identity” (ERO, 2013, p. 8). Ka Hikitia the Māori education strategy document reinforces ERO’s statements in stating that with collaborative practices such as these, there will be “better outcomes for Māori learners” (Ministry of Education, 2009, p. 8).

Researchers Kohli, Kohli, Huber and Faul, (2010) from the University of Southern Maine and the University of Louisville have studied and outlined what may be considered major attributes that culturally competent teachers should acquire in order to meet cultural expectations. Kohli et al. (2010) developed a framework for graduating social work students to support their understanding about what cultural competence might be. They suggest that the development of positive attitudes and skills is fundamental to culturally competent and professional teachers. Cultural competence, they say, begins with an awareness of one’s own cultural beliefs and practice, yet recognises that others may well believe in different truths and realities. Having an awareness of one’s own biases and prejudices is essential to this process of recognition which is grounded in respect, validation, and openness towards difference among people (Kohli et al., 2010, p. 8).

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority [NZQA] places importance on (and monitors) teacher education institutions, mentoring, and professional development services. Hence, they overview and monitor quality assurance in the education sector. Once students graduate, their work is overseen by ERO and MoE. This means that educators’ practice is observed by their reviewers. Increasingly within early childhood education, teachers are expected to include more equitable responses to Māori children and their families. Educational facilities are also expected to explain how they will strengthen and work towards goals of inclusiveness and equity (ERO, 2013).

The ERO (2013) poses questions such as “what does the service know about the effectiveness of its philosophy, vision, goals and systems in supporting Māori children to achieve as Māori” (p. 26). This question, they suggest, should be an on-going focus. Furthermore, ERO (2013, p. 26) states that “teachers [should] value Māori children’s identities as Māori as the foundation for, and key to, their success as Māori”. An ongoing scrutiny by ERO is important because it ensures some progression is made in this area. Significantly, under-achievement and under-representation of Māori in education has, historically, produced alarmingly negative outcomes for Māori. Examples of this include the high representation of Māori who are unemployed, who under-achieve in education and who are over-represented in prisons, hospitals and abusive homes. It is crucial, therefore, that Māori children have a strong sense of identity in the educational spaces that they participate in.

We admit, then, that we are taking a moral stance and a political position in this paper. Not to do so would mean that we support the continuation of the current system that has not been able to halt the imperialistic social dislocation of Māori society. In presenting our views and research together in this article, we bear in mind the words of Tainui elder and Professor, Whaea Ngapare Hopa who, in 1988 wrote, “Māori people have been the most consistent and articulate critics of the adequacy of social service-funding, programme design and delivery” (p. 20). This remains the case today. Accordingly, our concerns in this article centre on service funding, programme design and delivery and cultural support for newly-graduated teachers.

Paul Goren from Chicago, in 2009, spent six months inAotearoa/New Zealand on a Fulbright scholarship undertaking public policy analysis focusing on Ka Hikitia (MoE, 2009). His study reminds us that the intent of Ka Hikitia is about changes in attitudes, thinking and behaviour for teachers. Such changes mean shifting the mind and heart of the teacher so that he or she can engage in real and tangible transformation rather than a forcing of compliance of cultural mindfulness. Goren (2009) suggests that MoE engages in processes that will support changes in attitude amongst the teaching profession. For example, he notes that programmes that achieve success for Māori should be developed, a focus on the priorities of Ka Hikitia should be maintained and implemented, race and racism conversations should be had, while professional development in these focused areas should be provided. Goren states “the challenge in an organisation like the Ministry is to engage in processes that change attitudes, thinking, and behaviours rather than forcing compliance, while adhering to timelines that meet urgent priorities” (2009, p. vi).

Such attitudinal educational responsiveness towards Māori should not be thought of as a ‘special’ response with a different set of rules and regulations either. Rather, says Goren (2009), the Government is seeking a professional response from teachers.

While there is no legal requirement (as yet) for teachers to be or to practice bilingually or biculturally in their day to day interactions with children, students, whānau and each other, there are many Crown reports and documents that encourage teachers to reflect on how they support Māori children and te reo Māori (see for example ERO, 2010, 2012; 2013 MoE, 2011, 2013; NZTC, 2007, 2009). Importantly, Goren, MoE and ERO acknowledge that recognition of children’s language, culture and identity is what appears to work best for them in educational settings.

As articulated previously (see Gordon-Burns & Campbell, 2014b, p. 24), our study of students’ experiences, attitudes and understanding in relation to ngā ao Māori developed from our concerns of what appeared to be cultural ineptitude and response amongst a student body and work force within student and teacher populations in New Zealand/. Statistics show that of 25,284 early childhood teachers, only 9.0 percent (2,267) identify as Māori (MoE, 2014). [1] Furthermore, very few of these are bilingual teachers and fewer still are trained in second language teaching and learning (Hill, 2010). According to 2013 data, only 4% of our non-Māori population were able to speak te reo Māori (Statistics New Zealand, 2013). We also noted (Gordon-Burns & Campbell, 2014a, p. 11) that the school learning experience and teaching for our mokopuna/children is influenced by the people they have in front of them - their teachers.

The statistics above highlight that Pākehā culture is the norm within Aotearoa/New Zealand schools. Pākehā culture, practiced in New Zealand since the arrival of the British from England, determines the language we speak, the foods that we eat, the clothes that we wear, our interests, how we interact in our day to day activities and work, and how we relate with other people. Culture is deeply imbedded within ourselves. So, while our country has been making moves to address monocultural behaviours, the numerical majority of Pākehā cultural norms and attitudes in teaching positions has been touted by some to be a disaster for Māori (Hopa, 1988 and, more recently, Rerekura, 2014).

Sam Rerekura, the Director of Te Whare Wānanga o Ngāpuhi-nui-tonu, argues that the ongoing repressive nature of Pākehā cultural norms that continue to affect Māori, perpetuates a phenomenon similar in nature and effect to the battered (suppressed) woman syndrome (Rerekura, 2014). Battered native syndrome, says Rerekura (2014, p. 161), affects Māori intergenerationally, socially, politically and educationally. It appears that there is no ‘quick fix’ to the problem. Hopa (1988), nearly three decades ago, identified that educational facilities without links to “Māori people have difficulty in viewing Māori…development and other aspirations from a Māori perspective” (p. 70). While there have been statements made that purport to early childhood and/or Aotearoa/New Zealand leading the way in terms of education (see for example MoE, 2011, p. 3), there is very little research available that, in terms of the education of Māori, substantiates these statements. Rather, the reverse is true where many reports highlight the disproportionate negative representation of Māori within the education system (ERO, 2008, 2010, 2012; George, Ngamu, Sidwell, Hauraki, Martin-Fletcher, Ripia, Davis, Ratima, Wihongi, 2014; MoE, 2009, 2011, Skerrett, 2007; Waitangi Tribunal, 2010). Thus, it could be said that while Māori continue to be under-represented as teachers and tertiary students, the ill effects of suppressed native syndrome remain.

Some survey findings

While the number of respondents to this latest survey has now reduced to seven (from the original 16 students), as researchers we value and have gained further useful information that has enabled us to continue ‘fleshing out’ issues that are not only peculiar to early childhood, but also (we note from responses to our survey) to the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. We have therefore made the most of the opportunity to work with those surveys that have been returned to us.

Respondents to the latest survey all agreed that the knowledge and use of reo Māori that they gained during their ITE was important to them; it developed their understanding and ability to incorporate inclusive practices within the early childhood environment. Interestingly, however, none of these now first year teachers had accessed further literature to upskill and continue the momentum that they had experienced while attending ITE. This suggests that managers, supervisors or head teachers need to proactively support and encourage teachers to continue to reflect on and develop bicultural practices by placing an emphasis on continued reading of relevant, more recently published literature.

Our second survey responses, taken in the students’ third year of study (2013), indicated that the students felt confident with the progress they had made in terms of their reo Māori development and openness to Māori cultural opportunities. Just one year later (2014), however, the responses from the surveys sent out to the newly practising teachers indicate that more support is required and expected from leadership within the early childhood environment in relation to encouraging bicultural and bilingual environments. Most teachers noted, for example, that there were no whole centre discussions on the use of te reo Māori, nor was time given to practice reo Māori during team meetings.

By collectively reflecting on their own practices, we suggest, teachers may challenge their own and each other’s thinking and actions. Such sharing and reflection may in turn provide opportunities to consider new understanding and ways of working. This is because while we look back at how we have worked and what we did, there is opportunity also to look to the future to see how we might enhance our practice and develop ourselves. Reflection demands of us that we examine our belief systems and explore how we might grow so that we can meet our commitment as professional teachers in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

In terms of leadership, our respondents noted managers, curriculum leaders and practising teachers as holding these positions. One respondent commented “because she has very little experience in te reo that there is not much support coming from her in regards to recognising biculturalism and supporting our whānau who [are] Māori as well as encouraging the use of Māori theory as [well as] te reo in our class room” (Respondent 7). All but one respondent noted that they required (needed) other team members’ support for their ongoing development. These teachers felt they needed a whole centre approach. One teacher wrote, “it feels too difficult to implement by myself” (Respondent 4), while another noted “none of my work colleagues spoke any te reo Māori and this made it hard for me to speak Māori” (Respondent 2). These responses suggest that it is vital to prioritise support and development for reo Māori during strategic centre planning meetings. Such an approach may highlight a defined goal with expected outcomes for all centre teachers. Furthermore, while reflecting as a team, teachers may develop strategies together that enhance whole team learning and development. This should include ongoing Professional Development and Learning (PDL) such as current research in relation to reo Māori practice.

The returned surveys identified to us, then, that some curriculum leaders and managers did not have the knowledge needed to support teachers to develop themselves to be biculturally inclusive. In terms of reo Māori and bicultural development, functional support systems are vital for beginning teachers. It is critical, we suggest, and as our research shows, that centre leaders (and school leaders) are equipped with knowledge of ngā ao Māori in order to support staff to develop meaningful bicultural practices. This could mean the participation and representation of Māori across all aspects of the educational spectrum. That Māori, in relation to education, be equal contributors.

Tātaiako and Ka Hikitia

To further explore the idea of bicultural development in terms of supportive and encouraging leadership within the education sector and how this might be achieved, we have critiqued two resources that have been produced with the premise that they will support Māori achieving education success as Māori. In order to promote discussion about current practice, NZTC, in 2010, commissioned Haemata Limited to develop the resource we know as Tātaiako with the purpose that it would support teachers to develop cultural competencies. Tātaiako (MoE, 2011), purports to highlight the Crown commitment to raise the educational achievement of Māori children in the education system. It also challenges all those who work within the education system to more carefully and thoroughly reflect on their practices and develop goals to strengthen how they work with Māori in their care.

Tātaiako (MoE, 2011) proffers areas of responsibility for centre leaders with particular focus on leading their team. Text such as ‘actively build’, ‘lead’ and ‘support’ demonstrate, we think, that the Ministry of Education has an expectation that managers and head teachers will be the principal leaders in a bicultural journey. The cultural competencies within Tātaiako align closely with the NZTC documents, Graduating Teacher Standards [GTS] and the Registered Teacher Criteria [RTC]. Helpfully, too, the competencies offer focus areas for teachers and students to consult depending on the different stages of their careers.

The other Crown document and resource that we have reflected upon for this article is Ka Hikitia (MoE, 2009). Here there is a vision that Māori enjoy success as Māori. Statements such as “identity and culture are essential ingredients of success for Māori” are powerful reminders and inspirations within the text (p. 20). Goren (2009) notes “A key focus of Ka Hikitia is providing te reo Māori to all students in English-medium schools, and promoting te reo in our schools and wider communities” (p. 35).

A self-identified Pākehā principal of two schools in Ōtara, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Anne Milne (2009), works predominantly with Māori and Pasifika students. Milne concurs with Goren that the intent of Ka Hikitia is a major catalyst for bicultural/bilingual change. Even so, school teachers, professional development providers and the Ministry of Education themselves have noted that there is a lack of coherence, no assistance, clear guidelines or resourcing for implementation of bicultural and bilingual opportunities. Goren’s (2009) study reveals, for example, that Ka Hikitia has “too many combined targets, goal statements, strategies and actions for those looking for a place to start” (p. 38). There is confusion, he says, over how Ka Hikitia works in terms of implementation and the outcomes for students.

Further critiquing of Tātaiako (MoE, 2011) shows that, like Ka Hikitia (MoE, 2009), there may be too many combined targets here also. Take for example the word wānanga. Tātaiako explains this for teachers as “uses specific strategies and protocols for effective communication with whānau, hapū, iwi and the community” (p. 6). Then, under whānaungatanga it says, “has respectful working relationships with Māori learners and their whānau, hapū and iwi which enhance Māori learners achievement” (MoE, 2011, p. 8). Māori culture has a distinct identity, drawn as it is from a tribal base. Hopa (1988) explains that kinship and descent are the structural principles for the organisation of Māori life (p. 5). For some centres (and schools) who may only now be learning about working productively with whānau, the idea of working with hapū and iwi may be an expectation that is particularly overwhelming, such that the whole idea of consultation and effective communication is pushed into the ‘too hard basket’.

One of the strengths that Ka Hikitia does demonstrate is the consistent expectation for teachers to recognise and support culture and identity for Māori students. Tātaiako (MoE, 2011) has similar goals; it states for example that “identity, language and culture count” (p. 4). While Tātaiako (MoE, 2011) mentions very little in regard to teacher practice, it does describe manaakitanga as: “Demonstrates integrity, sincerity and respect towards Māori beliefs, language and culture” (p. 10). Manaakitanga ostensibly means kindness, hospitality, generosity and the process of showing respect. In the context of education, then, manaakitanga could be seen as a behavioural indicator for teachers’ personal and purposeful bicultural development. Another behavioural indicator for graduating teachers is the ability to “demonstrate … respect for hapū, iwi and Māori culture in curriculum design and delivery” [emphasis added] (MoE, 2011, p. 10). Respect, we suggest, is a debatable word in terms of being in an active or non-active state of appreciation. An indication that respect was active might be that whānau see, feel and hear their children’s teachers “embracing Māori language and culture” (MoE, 2011, p. 11).

Specific measurements and discussion on statements within Tātaiako and Ka Hikitia may be beneficial. For example, how does centre management ensure the essential ingredients that might meet Tātaiako and Ka Hikitia expectations are available, enacted and maintained? We have noted above our respondents’ experience where, due to centre management experiences, expectations could not be met. Ka Hikitia (MoE, 2009) should be used as a working document throughout the school or centre day rather than as a check list for bicultural development. For example, rather than have a set reo Māori phrase for the week or month that all staff will use, it may be beneficial for staff to continue to build on phrases by learning and using further reo Māori throughout the day. Indeed, NZTC (nd) caution their readers, “it should be noted that this material [Tātaiako] is NOT intended as: a checklist for assessment of culturally responsive teachers” (p. 1). While a checklist may be considered too prescribed, and could lead to compliance rather than a broad commitment to improve education for Māori, there is a very real need for careful monitoring of cultural growth in the educational environment.

In this regard, then, it is vital that educators are able to construct and make sense of policies and to understand how they can implement these into their practice. Ongoing support so that centre and school communities bicultural and bilingual aspirations may be realised is an important link in the process that appears to be missing.

What the research says

Unitec Institute of Technology academics (based in Auckland at the time) Eileen Piggot-Irvine, Helen Aitken, Jenny Ritchie, Pip Bruce Ferguson, and Fiona McGrath, in a 2009 commissioned NZTC study, researched the quality of provisionally registered teachers (PRT) in New Zealand. The study which looked at factors associated with being an effective teacher found that it was important that beginning teachers had access to a community of support and that there were clear criteria for their performance. The study also revealed that the quality of advice and guidance being accessed by PRTs was variable and concern was expressed at the inadequate mentoring and structural support available. These findings suggested that while some mentors were well qualified and experienced teachers, they did not necessarily have appropriate or suitable professional development for their role as mentors to beginning teachers. This finding, we propose, has vast implications for quality bicultural/bilingual practices.

In this regard, researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore Lim-Teo, Low, Wong, and Chong (2008) noted that the extent to which student teachers felt prepared (by their ITE provider) impacted directly on their motivation, competencies and confidence. The study highlights that beginning teachers’ preparation to teach combined with ongoing professional development are vital components for the improvement of education systems. Perhaps stating the obvious, Davies (cited in Lim-Teo et al., 2008) argues that no other intervention can make the difference in education that a knowledgeable and skilful teacher can make in the learning process. To grow biculturally knowledgeable, skilful and effective teachers, then, access to a community of focussed, like minded peers and mentors would seem to be vital.

Strategies to promote meaningful bicultural practice

An effective tool to promote meaningful bicultural practice may be the use of these reflective questions that Tātaiako (MoE, 2011) poses:

  • How do teachers and the school show awareness of, and respect for, te reo Māori and tikanga Māori, and Māori culture and heritage? (p. 5).
  • How do I acknowledge, accept, and/or use in my practice te reo Māori and tikanga Māori appropriately in the teaching and learning environment? (p. 22).
  • What do I purposefully do in my learning environment and in the teaching and learning opportunities (as opposed to accidental) that shows/demonstrates respect for te reo Māori and tikanga Māori (p. 23).
  • In my learning environment, how do I include/practice and use te reo Māori in a way that is authentic, relevant, purposeful and meaningful? (p. 30).

By reflecting honestly on these questions, teachers may begin to implement practices that support bicultural and bilingual application. Further, He Pou Tātaki (2013), a resource that ERO use during reviews, has a focus on early childhood centres’ self-review and evaluation. The document provides questions that allow teachers to reflect and set goals for development. By making consistent, meaningful use of such reports the unequal status of ngā ao Māori, brought about as it has been by Crown Treaty breaches, may more quickly reach a position of equitable validity by teachers, students and the public at large. Educators, managers and leaders should be supported with appropriate professional development that allows for a whole team approach for the implementation of strategies that will enhance their bicultural practice.

Responsive leadership requires response towards Māori education

In their research Kohli et al. (2010) discuss whether skills and knowledge or awareness are separate components of learning. We suggest they are separate. According to Manolesas (cited in Kohli et al., 2010) skills include the development of strategies and they “are measured through the ability to actively acquire appropriate and relevant … skills and techniques” (p. 12). Political affiliation including attitudes and beliefs have a direct relationship to the willingness of students to engage with skills and techniques that would better support cultural competency. Kohli et al. found that liberal students were better able to demonstrate cross-cultural competence than those who were less liberal. This was because liberal students were found to be more open and respectful with less fixed ideology. Another finding that we found interesting from the article was the premise that the more years that people studied, the “more conservative their thinking became” (p. 23). It appears that the more study undertaken, the more “rigid in their thinking and attached to their own theoretical framework” (p. 23) students became. This rigidity to change can be a profound deterrent to cultural growth because often new teachers look to ‘more experienced’ teachers as their role models and mentors. This conundrum could also partly be due to an ageing teaching profession that does not have the same exposure as current students in terms of their responsibilities and intentions towards promoting bicultural integration. This may also explain an inability of our nation to integrate Māori language and culture successfully across all education sectors.

One of the highlights of our completed surveys is that students often had a dramatic positive change of heart and mind towards Māori education during their three years of training. A heartening example is this: “I have come to respect and gain insight into the importance of incorporating te reo Māori and Māori culture into early childhood education. It is a way of going beyond teaching children about school readiness to teaching children about where they come from, their heritage, values and beliefs and involving whānau in their learning” (Respondent 13). It appears that in order for there to be meaningful bicultural and bilingual practice, educators, once qualified, require support and guidance over a number of years. Ongoing support from the MoE could only help to cement positive professional practices in the workplace.


As noted earlier in this article, the wording within Crown documents are increasingly demonstrating the importance of teachers, management and leaders, supporting and mentoring beginning teachers with appropriate bicultural and bilingual knowledge and skills. Ka Hikitia (MoE, 2009) advocates the “stepping up, the lifting or strengthening of ones stride” (MoE, 2013, p. 4). This means advancing the performance of the education system to ensure that Māori students are in fact enjoying and achieving education success as Māori.

For this to be achieved a move away from a tokenistic attitude to ngā ao Māori (which may be recognised by: the use of broken Māori/English karakia (prayers) at kai (meal) time: or/and a Māori waiata (song) at mat time only: an overuse of directives which tell children to stand up, sit down or to wash their hands), to the validation instead of Māori language, practices and potential and the inclusion of Māori voices. High-quality, excellent leadership with a commitment to progress bilingual/bicultural growth for centre (school) teams, achieved through systematic self-review and evaluation is required; and planning that identifies cultural priorities and associated goals. The centre’s vision and philosophy should include the importance of biculturalism where teachers’ practices include partnership, participation and protection of all things Māori. Professional development does not end once the student has graduated, rather, it should be seen to be an ongoing commitment. Funding should be targeted to meet centre (and schools) bicultural intentions and goals.

This leads us back to our introduction where we undertook to investigate further the dilemmas that may be hindering newly graduated teachers in terms of their bicultural competence and ongoing development. Clearly ongoing professional development needs to occur so that beginning teachers, teachers, mentors and leaders have a carefully planned and strategised course to further their development. It is critical that teachers are empowered to use the new knowledge, attitudes and beliefs that they have developed during their ITE and that they can apply these successfully using strategies that will enhance their teaching practices. Equally important, newly graduated teachers should feel supported in doing this.

To function beyond the level of tokenism, educational facilities should unashamedly actively encourage Māori participation and representation at all levels of centre/school life. In the interests of equity, Māori participation in decision making at all levels should be a target. Support for the appointment of people who identify and work as Māori and who hold appropriate qualifications may mean a reversal of past practises that stymied “Māori communality and co-operativeness” (Hopa, 1988, p. 7). Instead, higher numbers of emergent bicultural and biliteral centres and schools may be a reality. Ongoing support from government is crucial for these developments. Goren (2009) highlights that the MoE should engage in processes that support change of attitude, of heart, rather than a forced compliance. Importantly, understanding that it may take more than three years (Goren, 2009) for policy frameworks and MoE documents to filter into real and practical changes at centre and school level must mean that, if we are serious about protective measures around our bicultural and bilingual education system, quality action now is of the utmost importance.

End Note

1 Data includes licensed Early Childhood Education teacher-led services only. ^




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How to cite this article

Campbell, L.M., & Gordon-Burns, D. (2017). Bicultural development for teachers and students in Aotearoa / New Zealand: Is it working? He Kupu, 5 (2), 58-68. (accessed )