Anne Hynds and Mark Sheehan
Iwi versus Kiwi: racism, race relationships and the experience of controversial political debates within a context of culturally responsive school reform
Issue 20:2010 (published July 2011)
School communities are not immune to wider socio-political events when implementing government policies that are controversial, and schools are especially vulnerable when these initiatives become the focus of wider political debates that by their very nature are typically polarised and divisive. This article explores how debates associated with power, colonisation and institutional racism are experienced by school participants (teachers, students and parents/caregivers) by examining the first stage of Te Kauhua: Māori in the Mainstream pilot project in two New Zealand schools. School reform initiatives that attempt to dismantle historically-constructed power relationships can be undone due to wider national debates linked to institutional racism. This article explores the experience of school participants within the context of controversial national debates and a school reform process. We conclude by suggesting that questions about racism and other discriminatory practices in schools and the wider society must be addressed if schools are to make a difference for Māori students.