Pasifika Education: Discourses of Difference within Aotearoa New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This study is a conceptual analysis of specific terms and constructs that have become entrenched within education policy and practice in New Zealand within the 21st century – namely diversity , and Pasifika education. It is uncommon for users of these terms (educators, policy makers and researchers) to make their understandings and use of such terms explicit. In the absence of close and careful critique, limited and partial understandings of groups of learners constructed as diverse and different escape interrogation. The overall risks of this lack of conceptual clarity are: simplification and even misapprehensions of key dimensions of groups such as Pasifika learners and their communities. This results in unarticulated assumptions having undue influence over educators’, policymakers’ and researchers’ perspectives and their subsequent decision-making. The philosophical research questions of this study are addressed through a deconstructivist research framework that draws on the theorisations of J.R. Martin; M. Foucault’s theorisations relating to the historical analysis of ideas; and discourse theorising of a primarily post-structuralist nature. Six analyses were developed in order to address the research questions. Three focused on the level of national policies, macro-level influences, and post-colonial indigenous visioning. Three analyses are based on a selection of narrative accounts of Samoan women across time and space, examining education as a process of change, and its effects on personal identity and culture. The study critically reflects on the underlying values and belief systems of both policy and practice. It identifies and examines the tension between the state’s priorities for the provision of education for Pasifika peoples on the one hand, and Pasifika peoples’ motivations for pursuing and participating in education on the other. This is done in an effort to challenge complacency, provide alternative perspectives, deepen insights and strengthen understandings amongst those actively engaged as educators, policy makers and researchers in the education and development of Pasifika peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand.