Fostering biculturalism: exploring principal hautūtanga/leadership in a South Island secondary school in AotearoaNew Zealand.

Burrows, Peggy Margaret Ann


Thesis Discipline


Degree Grantor

University of Canterbury

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

AotearoaNew Zealand has been home to the indigenous Māori population for approximately one thousand years. As a consequence of British colonisation during the 19th century and the devastating assimilationist policies implemented during the first half of the 20th century, Māori suffered the loss of their native language, confiscation of their tribal lands, and the complete undermining of their ahurea tuakiri/cultural identity as Māori.

This study sets out to explore the role educational hautūtanga/leadership could play in addressing the resulting inequalities and disparities that arose from that subjugation of Māori by a dominant colonising force. More specifically the thesis explored principal hautūtanga/leadership pedagogies that first and foremost considered te ao Māori/a Māori world view and Kaupapa Māori/Māori principles and ideologies, when developing strategies for working with contemporary Māori students within one mainstream secondary school in AotearoaNew Zealand.

The transformative intent of this study was to provide a vicarious experience of a process of change hautūtanga/leadership that begins with the self. The study captured the importance of the cultivation of a greater critical consciousness (Gay & Kirkland, 2003), and the adoption of bicultural approaches (Macfarlane, A. H., 1997) and bilingual understandings to effect pedagogical change.

The study employed the flexibility of bricolage (Kincheloe & Berry, 2004) as an innovative for this qualitative, practice-based, self-study. Using an autoethnographic approach, guided by a grounded theoretical framework and informed by kaupapa Māori/Māori principles research principles, the study interrogated the researcher’s established understandings of hautūtanga/leadership and offered new insights into hautūtanga/leadership pedagogies more aligned with kaupapa Māori/Māori principles of bicultural hautūtanga/leadership practices that result in the provision of a culturally safe learning environment for Māori students.

The study captured the authentic voices of Māori participants and used those voices to challenge the researcher’s Westerncentric understandings of educational hautūtanga/leadership.


By collecting the anecdotes of participants in the study and using thematic narrative synthesis the researcher was able to discern recurrent themes.

The study employed a coherent methodological hybrid, identifying the researcher as the subject, directly connected to her research setting and the participants located there. This approach provided a greater emphasis on the knowledge and learning derived from self-study (Loughran, & Northfield, 1998) and collaborative ways of working which resonate with Māori.

The study captured the authentic voices of Māori participants and used those voices to challenge the researcher’s Westerncentric understandings of educational hautūtanga/leadership. The research challenged many of the researcher’s deep cultural assumptions and deficit thinking models imbued in her established Westerncentric hautūtanga/leadership practices.

The researcher acknowledges that tensions exist around assertions that nonindigenous researchers cannot undertake kaupapa Māori/Māori principles research and evaluation, in that such research is the domain of Māori, with Māori and for Māori. The researcher acknowledged her status as a nonindigenous researcher, mindful that her research approach may cause conceptual disparities in understandings.

This study identified gaps in current hautūtanga/leadership practices in the AotearoaNew Zealand education system and discussed the growing conscientisation of professionals around the importance of Pākehā engagement with te ao Māori/the Māori world on Māori terms if meaningful change is to occur. The study explores whether adopting bicultural hautūtanga/leadership pedagogies is regarded as a step to far for principals in their already busy professional lives. It is argued that to avoid taking that step speaks to the true meaning of colonisation and subjugation of Māori in an AotearoaNew Zealand educational setting.