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Inclusive Biculturalism, Exclusive Biculturalism and the Nation

by Elizabeth Rata

Author’s Note: This chapter was published in a book written for a Masters’ course at Massey University. It was subsequently removed from the second edition by the editors.


Rata, E. (2008) Educating for Citizenship in a Bicultural Society, In. St George, A. Brown, S. & J. O’Neill (Eds.) Facing the Big Questions in Education: Purpose, Power and Learning,  (pp. 51-62)Melbourne: Cengage. (Chapter 6)


Education has played a major role in the development of biculturalism in New Zealand since the 1970s (Openshaw, 2006; Rata, 2000). From the perspective of thirty years later this chapter looks back to the meanings, origins, development and implications of biculturalism in order to introduce today’s practising teachers to the contradictions inherent to this culture-based political project. The discussion is framed by these questions:

1. What are the meanings of biculturalism as practised in education?

2. How has education played a major role in the development of biculturalism?

3. Is the ‘bicultural citizenship’ promoted in education both possible and desirable for New Zealand?

Section one places New Zealand biculturalism within the world-wide context of identity politics in order to show the extent to which biculturalism in education became two quite different political projects – inclusive biculturalism and exclusive biculturalism – despite the shared use of the term ‘biculturalism’. Practising teachers, whether in the mainstream English language system or in Maori medium education (including bilingual, immersion and kura kaupapa Maori), encounter biculturalism through Treaty of Waitangi policies as well as through policies focused on raising Maori educational achievement. For this reason it is important that teachers consider the various meanings and possible consequences of biculturalism that are explored in this chapter.

Section two investigates what the two strands of biculturalism means for the concept of citizenship and why teachers need to know about the effect that biculturalism has on the interpretation of ‘citizen’. It argues that the concepts of ‘iwi-citizen’ and ‘world citizen’ that have developed in the exclusive biculturalism strand poses a serious problem for New Zealand’s constitution as a liberal-democratic nation-state. Because New Zealanders are socialised into the attitudes, values, knowledge and behaviours of democratic citizenship during their years at school (for example, critical thinking, decision-making, community involvement, equality before the law), new interpretations of ‘citizenship’ are of direct interest to teachers.

The origins, meanings, and context of biculturalism

The term ‘biculturalism’ was first used in an edited collection by Eric Schwimmer in 1969 although it didn’t enter the educational discourse until the early 1990s. Joan Metge’s influential Te Kohao o Te Ngira, Culture and Learning (1990), says ‘biculturalism’ is ‘used from time to time as a convenient shorthand by critics rather more than supporters’ (p. 19). However, a fundamental difficulty often encountered by teachers in discussing biculturalism is the lack of agreement about its meaning. Attempts to unravel the contradictory meanings in the term ‘biculturalism’ and the development of the two strands should start with its origins in identity politics. 

New Zealand biculturalism originated within the context of the world-wide response to the global economic downturn from the early to mid-1970s. Many left-wing humanists of the new professional class turned in disillusionment from class to identity group politics as the prosperity that had improved the lives of working class people throughout the developed world came to an abrupt close with the economic crisis of the 1970s and beyond. The enthusiasm of a ‘babyboomer’ generation that had initially thrown its weight behind left-wing class politics was directed instead to the group identity politics of feminism, gay rights, and ethnicised cultural rights, and also to issue-based politics, such as anti-nuclearism and conservationism. New Zealand’s biculturalism was one version of this huge shift in left-wing commitment from class to identity politics.

From the late 1970s, these mainly university educated members of the new middle class moved into positions of power and influence in the professions, especially in teaching, health, and social services, and in government, as officials and politicians. They brought with them the new commitment to identity politics, one that has become a powerful discourse in education. A large number with settler descendant backgrounds took on a political identity as ‘pakeha’ in response to their colleagues who were increasingly identifying politically as Maori (King, 1981). ‘Victimhood was subsequently understood as oppression by colonisation, the patriarchy, and “Western” culture generally, an oppression experienced by ethnic groups, indigenous peoples, women, gays, and religious minorities’ (Rata and Openshaw, 2006, p. 10) rather than the capitalist exploitation of working class people.

It has been argued that identity politics, despite being promoted in the name of the dispossessed, is in fact a political movement of the new middle class (Kuper, 1999; Appiah, 2005). It is in this vulnerable class’s response to the erosion of its relatively privileged material conditions in the contracting global economic order that identity politics has benefited the new middle class. In New Zealand, Treaty of Waitangi settlements have led to the emergence of a privileged ‘neotribal elite’ (Rata, 2000), the Maori middle class has increased in size (Callister, 2007; Lashley 2000) while amongst those Maori experiencing hardship (those for whom the benefits of biculturalism were originally intended) the proportion of those in the ‘severe hardship’ category increased from 7 to 17 percent between 2000 and 2004 (Jensen et. al, 2006). Of ongoing concern for teachers is the relative educational underachievement of Maori, particularly the ongoing failure of Maori boys (Clark, 2007) which continues despite the dominant influence of cultural politics in education during this period.

Although most Maori and a small number of non-Maori have lived in a bi-cultural world since the colonial period, contemporary biculturalism’s location in the contemporary global context of identity politics distinguishes it from earlier forms. By the late 1980s two distinctive strands of biculturalism had emerged: ‘inclusive biculturalism’ and ‘exclusive biculturalism’. The former is the idea of ‘bicultural citizenship’ for all New Zealanders, the recognition and inclusion of Maori culture and language into all education sectors, and the commitment by each sector to the Treaty of Waitangi. ‘Exclusive biculturalism’ is primarily the political project of tribal sovereignty or tino rangatiratanga which informs kaupapa and matauranga Maori education, from kohanga reo to whare wananga.

Inclusive Biculturalism

‘Inclusive biculturalism’ is heavily informed by social justice rhetoric and the mainstreaming of Maori language and culture (Renwick, 1986). ‘Taha Maori’ and ‘Maoritangi’ were its precursors with these terms appearing in a number of curriculum documents throughout the 1980s – for example, 1983 Taha Maori across the Curriculum (Openshaw, 2006). By the early 1990s the term ‘biculturalism’ was appearing in policy documents. The 1993 the New Curriculum Framework ‘acknowledges the value of the Treaty of Waitangi, and of New Zealand’s bicultural identity and multicultural society’ (MoE, 1993, p. 1). It emphasised the inclusive approach; ‘All students will have the opportunity to acquire some knowledge of Maori language and culture. (p. 7, my italics). This form of inclusive biculturalism was continued in the 2006 Draft Te Reo Maori curriculum, although with indications of a significant change taking place. ‘Maori language programmes should offer both Maori and non-Maori learners . . . the opportunity to learn Maori. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that te reo Maori endures’. (MoE, 2006, p. 10). However, the replacement of the term ‘pakeha’, referring to settler-descendants, by the more inclusive term ‘non-Maori’ suggests a shift away from the ‘Maori – pakeha’ binary to the recognition of Indian and Chinese settlers and more recent migrants from throughout the world.


Inclusive biculturalism appeared in all education areas although early childhood education has shown the strongest and longest commitment to biculturalism. This commitment can be traced from the influence of kohanga reo into Te Whariki, the ECE curriculum document (MoE, 1996). Interestingly Te Whariki demonstrates the contradictions that led to the separation into two bicultural strands. It contains, often in the same sentence, inclusive and exclusive forms of biculturalism. ‘This is the first bicultural curriculum statement developed in New Zealand. It contains curriculum specifically for Maori immersion services in early childhood education and establishes, the bicultural nature of curriculum for all early childhood services.’ (1996, p. 7).

Despite considerable encouragement from successive governments and the dominance of bicultural discourse in education and health, inclusive biculturalism remains weak as a mainstream political project. This can be traced to the influence of two very opposing groups. The first group consists of those who regard political identity as national identity – with the citizen as the bearer of the political and legal rights guaranteed by the nation-state. They reject an ethnicised political identity for a New Zealand national identity, often refusing to identity as pakeha. The huge rise in ‘New Zealander’ type responses in the 2006 census (429,492 identified as ‘New Zealanders’) is part of this phenomenon (Statistics, 2007). While some in this group do support Maori culture and language they regarded ethnic-based culture as something for Maori and other interested people to attend to, and oppose its politicisation. The second group is committed to a tribal ethnicised political identity. It is responsible for the shift from the pan-Maori politics of the 1970s to the tribal politics that has dominated since the 1985 Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act (Rata, 2003). It is the tino rangatiratanga politics of these ‘neotribalists’ (Rata, 2000) that reshaped biculturalism into its exclusive strand, promoting the concept of an ‘iwi citizen’, one that is in sharp contrast to the citizen of the liberal-democratic nation-state. The next section examines this project.

Exclusive Biculturalism

Although exclusive biculturalism and inclusive biculturalism have separate political and economic development goals with exclusive biculturalism expressing tino rangatiratanga ambitions, both projects have their origins in the same global conditions and in the same new professional class who led the inclusive bicultural movement. However, the 1985 Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act, in allowing settlement claims back-dated to 1840, led to the re-constitution of the tribes as economic corporations or neotribes claiming a political partnership with the government (Rata, 2000). This new form of retribalisation drives the exclusive biculturalism project. Its discourse presents the treaty as a ‘partnership’ between the tribes and the government and also a ‘partnership’ between two distinctive and separate ethnic groups, – Maori and pakeha, a discoursetraceable to the 1987 Court of Appeal ruling that the treaty was ‘akin to partnership’. Although it did not say that it was a partnership, treaty partnership language soon entered education discourse. Te Whariki (1996) states quite unequivocally that ‘In early childhood settings, all children should be given the opportunity to develop knowledge and an understanding of the cultural heritages of both partners to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The curriculum reflects this partnership in text and structure.’ (p. 9)

Like ‘partnership’, the discourse of treaty ‘principles’ consolidated the place of the treaty in the education system. The full force of treaty principles influence comes from the 1986 State-Owned Enterprises Act. The phrase ‘Nothing in this Act shall permit the Crown to act in a manner that is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi’ (SOE Act, 1986), gave the treaty a de facto legal status and led to the inclusion of the term ‘treaty principles’ in thirty statutes and numerous policy documents. These include the 1990 Education Act (Part 15[b]) which required the Councils of tertiary institutions to ‘acknowledge the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi’.

By 1989, in response to confusion about what the term ‘treaty principles’ meant, the government defined five principles. The first three principles are relevant to this chapter: ‘Principle 1: The Principle of Government: The Government has the right to govern and to make laws. Principle 2: The Principle of Self Management: The iwi have the right to organise as iwi, and, under the law, to control their resources as their own. Principle 3: The Principle of Equality All New Zealanders are equal before the law.’ (Justice Department, 1989, Ref. 2). In a cautionary note that pre-shadowed the ongoing confusion about the meaning of the principles, the government added, ‘In interpreting the principles of the Treaty, the spirit of the Treaty is to be applied, and not the literal words.’ (Justice Department, 1989, Ref. 3). The neotribalists were, however, less cautious and throughout the 1990s, Principle Two, – that iwi had the right to control their resources as their own – was applied in developing a separate and comprehensive Maori education system from kohanga reo to tertiary whare wananga. Despite the confusion surrounding the principles, Principle Two became the erroneous justification for the shift to a separate tribal based education system promoting a new concept of citizenship.

The establishment of separate Maori education was not only the result of the influence of Treaty discourse in education. The establishment of kura kaupapa Maori coincided with another major political force in New Zealand during the 1980s. The revival of the liberal commitment to ‘choice’ opened up opportunities for more ‘special character’ schools to be added to the specialist schools, such as Montessori, Catholic, and Steiner that had existed for some time. While the kura kaupapa Maori movement rejected being included as a ‘designated character school’, arguing instead in a submission to the government that the Treaty of Waitangi and Maori indigenous status were reasons for the kura to have separate recognition in the 1990 Education Act (Kura Kaupapa Maori Project Team Report 1989 in Rata, 1991, p. 159), the promotion of greater parental choice contributed to the greater acceptance of separate Maori education.

While treaty principles and partnership discourse provided the quasi-legal justification for the shift to exclusive biculturalism, the prevailing culturalist beliefs about the primacy and determinacy of culture provided the justifying ideology behind kaupapa Maori, matauranga Maori, and indigenous theory. Despite the rejection of ‘Western’ ideas, culturalism is in fact, traceable to the Western Anti-Enlightenment movement of the early nineteenth century and to the subsequent development of German Romanticism. The seminal cultural theorist is the early nineteenth century German philosopher, Johann Herder. He believed that ‘to belong to a given community, to be connected with its members by indissoluble and impalpable ties of common language, historical memory, habit, tradition and feeling, is a basic human need no less natural than for food and drink or security or procreation.’ (Herder in Lukes, 2003, p. 87). This approach, revived in the identity politics of the 1970s, considers status hierarchies and rule by birth-ascribed elites as the ‘natural’ way to distribute authority. It regards individual citizenship, universalism, and equality, as a corruption of the natural order.

The belief in ‘natural’ kin-based social group informs the ideas in the exclusive biculturalism strand. The objective of the separate kaupapa Maori education system is to restore political forms of social organisation such as the kinship groups of iwi, hapu, and whanau and to revive cultural forms of interaction. By 2003 the Ministry’s Maori Strategic Plan had adopted the ‘Durie Principles’ (Durie, 2003) and proposed a curriculum based upon the principles that Maori students will be able ‘to live as Maori, – being able to have access to Te Ao Maori (the Maori world) – access to language, culture, marae, resources such as land, tikanga, whanau’. These principles form the basis of the Maori Educational Framework developed at the annual Hui Matauranga and are now the driving force of tino rangatiratanga education (MoE, 2007). Exclusive biculturalism however is not restricted to the kaupapa Maori system. Its ideas have moved into mainstream education. An early childhood document contain this statement – ‘the term “whanau” takes in kinship ties through whakapapa (genealogy) and people who come together for the same kaupapa’ (MoE, 1996a, p. 7). And in secondary education, the influential, although increasingly criticised (Nash, 2005; Openshaw, 2007), Kotahitanga Project is also based on the culturalist ideology that underpin exclusive biculturalism.

By the end of the 1980s support for exclusive biculturalism came from the shared interests between two seemingly quite different political groups: right-wing and left-wing liberals. The former, often referred to as ‘neoliberals’ were opposed to a government imposed inclusive form of biculturalism throughout the education system and believed, at that time at least, that Maori education interests could be accommodated in a separate system justified by the liberal commitment to freedom of association and choice. The liberal left’s support for exclusive biculturalism (as well as inclusive biculturalism) came from its earlier shift to identity politics and its belief that culturalism promoted social justice. (In recent years this shift has been reversed as many on the left return to socio-economic class politics). However, the support from both the right and the left enabled exclusive biculturalism to become firmly established during the 1990s.

Biculturalism: An educational project

Early supporters of inclusive biculturalism, particular teachers, regarded cultural marginalisation as a major contributing cause of Maori underachievement. Cultural recognition was therefore, considered to be the solution (Renwick, 1986). Likewise, the early champions of exclusive biculturalism, such as Te Komiti o Nga Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tamaki Makaurau, argued that separate kaupapa Maori education ‘offers an alternative solution for the crisis faced by Maori children within the present system’ (Rata, 1989, p. 30).

After several decades of both types of educational biculturalism, how successful have these initiatives been in lifting the educational performance of Maori? Two measures are useful in assessing the success or otherwise of bicultural education initiatives. One is the percentage of Maori who choose to participate in the various types of kaupapa Maori schooling. The other is the educational achievement of Maori students in both mainstream and Maori medium schooling.

The overwhelming majority of Maori children (‘around 86 percent) remain in compulsory mainstream education. Just over 14 percent are enrolled in Maori-medium in 2001, where at least 31 percent of teaching is in te reo Maori. The percentage of Maori students who attended Kura Kaupapa Maori was 3.5.’ (MOE, 2005). Similarly, the figures for early childhood education indicate a preference for mainstream education although the proportion of Maori children in kohanga reo compared to mainstream centres is much higher than in compulsory education. In 2005, 13,235 Maori children were in mainstream centres with 10,062 in licenced kohanga reo (DMAD, 2006 p. 26). However, the fact that the numbers of kohanga reo have actually fallen from a peak of 767 in 1996 to 512 in 2005 (DMAD, 2006, p. 14) suggests a complex but unresearched picture of parental choice in respect to kohanga and kura attendance.

The comparison of Maori in kaupapa Maori schools with those in the mainstream system provides contradictory findings. On the one hand there was ‘a higher rate of attainment for year 11 Maori-medium students’ doing NCEA levels 1 and 2 compared with Maori in mainstream schools (MOE, 2005 p. 12). ‘Candidates in these settings were more likely to gain NCEA level two compared with their Maori peers in English-medium (mainstream) schools’ (p. 13) and ‘candidates at immersion and bilingual schools (in 2003 and 2004) were more likely to gain a National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) than Maori candidates in English medium schools’ (Murray, 2005, p. 2).

On the other hand the ‘proportion of immersion school candidates to meet both the literacy and numeracy requirements was similar to the proportion of Maori in mainstream schools who met both requirements. However, mainstream Maori candidates were more likely to meet the numeracy than the literacy requirement’ (Murray, 2005 p. 9). Of serious concern is the ‘low achievement of (immersion and bilingual) students in the science learning area’ (p.2). ‘Around half (51%) of the Year 11 immersion school candidates who gained an NCEA (at any level) achieved no credits in science subjects. In comparison, 88% of Maori candidates in mainstream schools who gained an NCEA gained some credits in science subjects’ (Murray, 2005, p. 5).

Because comparisons between Maori achievement in Maori medium with mainstream schools need to be read with considerable caution given the small numbers of students in Maori medium education (Murray, 2005), it is not yet possible to say that the exclusive bicultural approach of Maori medium education is successful. A similar cautionary note is needed when comparing Maori student achievement with non-Maori. The finding that ‘Maori students . . . are over-represented among students who underachieve.’ (MOE, 2005, p.15) with ‘Maori candidates less likely to gain level NCEA qualifications than their non-Maori peers’ (Wang et al, 2006, p.1) is qualified by two important factors. Firstly, not all Maori students are underachieving. There is ‘wide variation in the achievement levels within the Maori pupil population’. The largest difference between Maori pupils who were high achievers and those who were low achievers ‘related to the availability of educational resources in the home’ (PISA 2000, p.21).

Is the achievement of the children of the Maori middle class hand (approx 25 percent of Maori are in the managerial and professional occupational groupings according to the 2006 census) significantly different from that of Maori in the growing ‘severe hardship’ category referred to earlier. The differences in formal attainment between students from schools in different decile bands does suggest a strong link between social-economic class and educational achievement. Twenty-five percent of Maori who left school in 2005 had little or no formal attainment, two and a half times higher than for Pakeha students. (Ka Hikitia, 2006). Twenty-one percent of students from decile 1-3 schools left school in 2004 with no formal attainment compared to six percent from schools in the decile 8 – 10 band. (DMAD, 2006. p. 882). Given the high proportion of Maori students in decile 1 – 3 schools (78,952 in decile 1-3; 20,643 decile 8-10, DMAD, 2006, p. 60), it seems likely that socio-economic class location is strongly implicated in Maori educational achievement. However, socio-economic explanations for Maori achievement are rejected by both inclusive and exclusive forms of biculturalism for an approach that regards ‘culture’ are the cause and solution of schooling performance.

Exclusive Biculturalism –  A Political Project

The crucial role played by education in promoting retribalisation politics by shifting from inclusive to the separate form of exclusive biculturalism has long been recognised. Graham Smith (2002, p. 11) describes the establishment of the separate kaupapa Maori education system during the late 1980s and 1990s as ‘the revolution of Maori education’, one that is not limited ‘to language revitalisation and intervention in educational underachievement’. By 1990 leading kaupapa Maori educationalists (for example, Sharples, 1989; Durie, 2003) were promoting the restoration of tribal ties and kinship relations through a pedagogy based upon kaupapa Maori knowledge and cultural practices, including te reo. ‘The pathway for Kohanga Reo is about whanau development. It is not just about the revival of the Maori language anymore’ (Royal Tangaere, 1996, p. 18).

Like Herder’s cultural romanticism, exclusive biculturalism regards culture as ‘belonging’ exclusively to the ethnic group that has traditionally followed its values and practices. Culture is considered to be an individual’s primary and determining identity, so much so that all a person’s interests – educational, political and spiritual, are seen to be shaped by the primary cultural identification with the ancestral group. This explains why researchers, for example, in researching anything concerned with Maori, are required to support Maori cultural and political aspirations – ‘kaupapa Maori research is research by Maori, for Maori and with Maori . . . it comes from tangata whenua, hapu and iwi.’ (L. T. Smith, 1994: 1 – 2).

Inclusive and exclusive biculturalism are both referred to as ‘bicultural’, yet they are, in fact, quite different political projects. As early as 1977, Sidney Mead (1997, p. 89) asked the question ‘Should Maoritanga (Maori culture) Be Shared?’ His answer refers directly to the dilemma at the heart of the two strands of biculturalism. ‘It is difficult to share one’s cultural treasures with others, especially when these treasures are a part of one’s identity. The problem is whether Maoritanga properly belongs to the Maori minority of New Zealand or whether it is the legacy of all who claim to be New Zealanders’ (p. 91).

The conflict between the two strands also appears in the Waitangi Tribunal Report on the status of the Maori language. ‘The Maori culture is a part of the heritage of New Zealand and the Maori language is at the heart of that culture. If the language dies the culture will die (Waitangi Tribunal, 1986). However the Tribunal also acknowledged the language’s integral place in the cultural expression of a distinctive ethnic group -Maori. In 1987 Maori was made an official language of New Zealand and the Maori Language Commission was established ‘(g)enerally to promote the Maori language in particular as a living language and as an ordinary means of communication’ (Maori Language Act, 1987, Section 7B). The issue of responsibility lies at the heart of the language’s future. ‘A major question in relation to revitalisation is the following: what share of the responsibility for the safeguard of the Maori language falls to the Maori people, and what share to the Crown?’ (Waite, 1992, p. 32).

However, the main conflict between the two strands of biculturalism concerns the meaning of citizenship. Inclusive biculturalism refers to the inclusion of some aspects of Maori culture into mainstream New Zealand society and to applying principles of social justice to Maori, that is, to the full enjoyment of all the benefits of citizenship. Exclusive biculturalism as developed in the Durie Principles adopted at the Hui Matauranga contains different concepts of ‘citizenship’, – that of iwi citizen and world citizen. Part two of this chapter examines the meaning of citizenship in light of these two different concepts to ask how each version of ‘citizen’ fits with New Zealand’s liberal democracy.

Part Two: The Nation or the Tribe?

It is possible to date the establishment of New Zealand as a liberal-democratic nation from 1852 because it was the Constitution Act of that year that laid down the foundations of the four parts required to constitute the nation-state and brought these parts into relationship to each other. The necessary constituent parts of the nation-state are: 1. The territory over which sovereignty is held – that area annexed by British Statute in May 1840. 2. The ‘nation’ as the concept and symbol of a society located within that territory – an embryonic idea found in the Constitution Act’s reference to ‘New Zealand’ 3. The ‘state’ itself – the organising infrastructure of the nation consisting of parliamentary institutions, laws, systems, policies and practices of government – established in its most basic form in 1852. 4. Citizenship – the legal and political status that links each individual to the other three parts, the geographical site, the nation, and the state, and cannot be separated from them. While it took until 1893 for all adult New Zealanders to be recognized as citizens, the structure itself was established in 1852.

 ‘Citizenship’ is the legal and political status that links each individual to the nation, and the state, and cannot be separated from them. It is impossible to have one without the other. Citizenship exists because citizens are citizens of something, that is, they derive legal status from the laws enacted by parliament (the site of the nation’s sovereign authority) and administered through state institutions. The political status of the citizen is derived from the status of New Zealand as a sovereign nation with authority over the citizens and its geographical area. Without the nation as the concept of a society’s sovereignty and the state as the organiser and administrator of that authority, the idea of citizenship is meaningless.

In direct contrast to a tribe, the nation is the concept and symbol of a unified society based on the democratic principle of universal human rights and the liberal principle of individuality. The system of binding together non-kin, non-racially linked people enables a society to exist based on what the seventeenth century political philosopher, John Locke, and others called a ‘social contract’ – individuals agreeing that some of their number shall be permitted the authority to govern. The move from ‘status to contract’ (i.e. agreement), or from tribe to nation, is recognised as the greatest of all socio-political changes in the history of the world. It shifted the principle of social organisation from one based on kinship and ethnic or racial criteria to one based upon a ‘contract’ between individuals. This is also the fundamental difference separating inclusive and exclusive biculturalism. The nation is the idea and symbol of this revolutionary form of social organisation, one in which ordinary individuals with the status of citizens, not birth-ascribed tribal elites, are the source of authority.

Given the constitutive role of citizenship in maintaining the structure of the nation-state, the proposal of a new type of ‘citizen’ – one that is not linked to the nation and the state, but to a non-national structure, the tribe – is worthy of investigation by those in education. Two of Maori education’s Hui Matauranga goals are ‘to live as Maori’, ‘to participate as citizens of the world’. Significantly, national citizenship is omitted from the document. This is in direct contrast to the original 1989 kaupapa Maori submission to the government, which stated ‘the outcome of Kura Kaupapa Maori total immersion education is bilingual and bicultural citizens who have the knowledge, skills and abilities to make significant contributions to New Zealand as a whole’ (cited in Rata, 1991, p.164).

The undefined term ‘citizen of the world’ in the Hui Matauranga documents and the concept of ‘iwi-citizen’ pose a significant conceptual problem. There are two reasons why these terms are meaningless. Firstly, to be a citizen, that is the bearer of political and legal rights, one must be an individual, not an undifferentiated group-member, ie. a person whose political status derives from the group not from the person’s individual status. Liberal-democracies were revolutionary, not only because they demolished traditional hierarchies based on birth status, but because individuals were free in their own right to take up that authority. That is what the status of the individual citizen means – individualised political authority. The location of the citizen’s political status is in the individual, not the tribal member. Secondly, to be a citizen one must be a citizen of something. Citizenship is a status, – something must exist to award that status, a structure from which political rights are derived. Without a world state – a global structure that can organise and administer political relationships and activities on a global scale it is not possible to have a citizen. Without a nation-state, citizenship is also meaningless.

The most serious premise of exclusive biculturalism implied in the Hui Matauranga goals is that Maori children will be, by virtue of their ethnic ancestry, members of a tribal socio-political structure rather than citizens of the nation-state. This assumes that Maori and non-Maori are two distinctive peoplesseparated in fundamental ways by different ways of thinking, believing, and behaving. However the concept of separate distinctive ethnic groups, Maori and pakeha, is itself flawed. Paul Callister (2006) describes ethnic categories in New Zealand as ‘fluid’, and boundaries between groups as ‘leaky’. Frequent intermarriage since the nineteenth century means that many New Zealand families have members with Maori ancestry and Maori identification. While groups may observe various certain cultural values and practices that characterise their ethnic heritage and identity, the realities of daily life ensure that New Zealanders of all ethnic ancestries share the ordinary experiences of everyday life.

The Maori ‘partner’ in biculturalism is also problematic. Andrew Sharp (2002, p. 15) suggests ‘that Maori do not in fact act as a people and cannot even unambiguously be conceived of as a people, but actually manifest themselves in three different kinds of groupings – kin groups, voluntary associations, and (a much vaguer grouping) an ethnic group or race’. Indeed the emphasis on ‘iwi citizen’ as a political category is troublesome given that a total of 102,366 people of Maori descent in the 2006 census did not know their iwi (Statistics NZ).

A corollary to the belief in separate bounded ethic groups with quite different cultures is the concept of a Maori way of knowing which provides the epistemological basis for research theory and practice. This position is rejected by a number of writers, including Clark (2006), and Marie and Haig, (2006) who express concern about its relativist view of science. There is also concern about the Treaty of Waitangi in shaping public policy. Interestingly most of the most powerful advocates for Treaty recognition, Geoffrey Palmer, is now asking for a ‘wait and see’ period in respect to the last three decades of treaty activism. ‘After a pause we will be able to assess how the resources in health, education and from settlement assets and the policies of devolution have worked in practice.’ (Palmer, 2006, No. 23).


One of the contributing conditions to New Zealand’s success in creating itself as a liberal-democratic nation-state was the early establishment of a national education system, and, despite its imperfections, the degree of trust that sufficient numbers of New Zealanders have had in the system for 130 years. This chapter argues that the existence of the ethnicised education system promoted by exclusive biculturalism, one that specifically rejects the universalist principles of the nation-state for a kinship, race based socio-political structure, may well threaten this trust. In addition, because education plays a critical role as one of the main integrative mechanisms of a non-kin, non-race and non-religious society, kaupapa Maori education with its tino rangatiratanga political purpose, based as it is on kin and race categories, is not able to perform this integrative role.

The inherent contradictions in biculturalism that first led to the emergence of two very different strands of biculturalism point to more fundamental issues concerning New Zealand’s constitution as a liberal-democratic nation-state. Equal rights and status for New Zealanders comes from the development of the nation-state since 1852 and the subsequent granting of citizenship rights. Despite the Graduating Teacher Standards claim that ‘(t)hese standards recognise that the Treaty of Waitangi extends equal status and rights to Maori and Pakeha alike’ (Teachers Council, 2007), political rights were not awarded by the Treaty of Waitangi – nor could they be, the treaty predates the nation-state. That a major teacher organisation has confused the basis of citizenship is evidence of the confusion caused by conflicting political projects which underpin the two strands of biculturalism: liberal democracy on the one hand and ethno-nationalism on the other. The former awards political status on the basis on universalism, that is non-kin and non-racial criteria, the latter grants membership on the basis of historical identification, – kinship and racial belonging. Liberal democracy can accommodate inclusive biculturalism. An ethnic-based political system is unable to do so.




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