Teaching Diversity, Advancing Democracy: Challenges for Citizenship Education in Aotearoa New Zealand

By Veronica M.H. Tawhai.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The presence of diverse needs, interests and perspectives in society is a key measure of a healthy representative democracy. Learning about diversity, and how society provides for diversity, is therefore a valuable characteristic of citizenship education (Arthur and Davison, 2000; Berding and Miedema, 1998; Feinberg, Fields and Roberts, 1997). This paper presents the findings of recent research about citizenship education in Aotearoa (New Zealand). In particular, it explores what presence the notion of diversity has in New Zealand’s citizenship education programme (social studies). In New Zealand, the provisions for diversity are under constant political debate. This includes the provisions for indigenous political representation, such as the Maori parliamentary seats. The research utilized critical discourse analysis and content analysis methods. A review of the social studies curriculum revealed a strong focus on identity, culture and heritage in New Zealand, but an absence of material about how diversity is provided for in society. This includes the socio-political provisions for diversity in New Zealand’s democratic arrangements, such as guaranteed indigenous representation. The implications of this absence are discussed in terms of citizens’ understandings of democracy, equality, and the preparation of citizens to discuss these issues further.

Keywords: Diversity, Equality, Citizenship, Citizenship Education

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp.153-160. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 571.781KB).

Veronica M.H. Tawhai

Lecturer, Te Pūtahi a Toi – School of Māori Studies, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Veronica is a young indigenous academic from the Ngati Porou, Uepohatu tribes of New Zealand. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Policy and Māori Studies in 2002, and a Masters of Education (Hons) in 2007. Her interests are in indigenous citizenship and the role of citizenship education in bi-political (indigenous-settler) states. She is in the first year of her lectureship at Te Pūtahi a Toi – School of Māori Studies, at Massey University.


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