To teach in primary schools in Aotearoa-New Zealand means to encounter students from diverse backgrounds. A significant proportion of those students are MaÌ„ori and a significant proportion of MaÌ„ori students are not achieving to their potential in school. There are several reasons for this under-achievement, which this thesis explores, and there is substantial research evidence as to what will turn this situation around, which is also explored. Some argue that the answer is for MaÌ„ori learners to be taught by MaÌ„ori teachers, and in MaÌ„ori medium contexts. This approach has achieved considerable success for a small number of MaÌ„ori learners; however, the demographic data tell us that for now, the significant majority of MaÌ„ori learners are in English language medium classrooms, taught by non-MaÌ„ori teachers. At present, there are not enough MaÌ„ori teachers to teach all MaÌ„ori learners.
The New Zealand Ministry of Education has goals for improving the achievement of MaÌ„ori learners through providing 'high-quality, culturally responsive education that incorporates the identity, language and culture of MaÌ„ori students, and engages their parents, families and whaÌ„nau' (Ministry of Education, 2008). The Ministry and the New Zealand Teachers Council expect all teachers to be 'culturally competent', that is, to teach in culturally responsive ways.
The Ministry of Education's research and development project, Te KoÌ„tahitanga, continues to provide evidence of 'what works' for MaÌ„ori learners in New Zealand secondary schools. The effective teaching profile that was developed as part of this project informs this thesis.
The thesis describes qualitative, social justice-based case study research undertaken between late 2004 and 2006 with four effective PaÌ„kehaÌ„ primary teachers of MaÌ„ori children, and with children from those classes and their parents/whaÌ„nau. The study sought to glean insights about what characterises effective PaÌ„kehaÌ„ primary teachers of MaÌ„ori students.Â
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