GUEST BLOG: Lizzie Cook – Addressing a failure by the Government to adequately support Kura Kaupapa Māori



It is 2016, part of a long drawn out, time-sapping and energy-consuming process to counter moves by the Government to cap (restrict growth and size of a school) Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Whanau Tahi in Ōtautahi/Christchurch who have requested more classrooms to accommodate the growth they are experiencing year by year.

This is a school that educates Māori successfully, that produces glowing achievement for Māori, as do other Kura Kaupapa Māori schools. And why is this, you may ask? I suggest that these schools provide Māori with their own authentic voice and place to stand unlike mainstream education that is still Pākehā-centred, largely paying lip-service to Te Ao Māori with rhetoric and the question: how can we improve the achievement levels of ‘our’ Māori students?

Māori are not the problem. We must probe further as to why the Government is not assisting these Kura Kaupapa Schools anyway they can? What is so hard about re-locatable classrooms? Why is this school not being given even a minimum of help to follow through on what it is clearly doing very well?

My take on the matter is that it is racism, Institutional Racism that does not like the independent Māori doing well and being successful. Pākahā dominated institutions still want to apply Pākehā rules and tell Māori what to do and how to do it. This is not stated of course. What is stated are all sorts of other rationales such as, no money for buildings and so on and so forth; the presentation of everyday facts as though they really are a barrier to passionate endeavour that is about the promotion of a culture, a language, a whole way of being that is beneficial for the participants. This is the history of Aotearoa repeated time and again, ‘hindering’ Māori initiatives.

Furthermore, a Māori Minister of Education is a face within a white, male dominated institution that is our Government. Just as conditions for women in Aotearoa were not improved by the female leadership of Jenny Shipley or Helen Clark, Māori continue their historic fight with the Pākehā rules entity that is the Crown.


by Lizzie Cook
Lizzie is a Pākehā PhD candidate in Sociology at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha. Her thesis title is Pākehā Bliss of Cruelty.

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  1. So your take on the matter is ‘institutional racism’ even though it’s not stated. That’s some sound logic right there.
    I’d be surprised if this is the only school in the region facing difficulties at the moment, earthquakes and all.
    My take on the matter is 1) you’re white 2) you’ve done a thesis bashing white people, past and present 3) you’re North American, a SJW and extremely prejudiced to your own kind as well Maori.

    • Hmm. It does seem to ring bells?? Is there funding with this thesis? May be it could of been directed to a Maori studying the subject to write about it?

      • Off White:

        “So your take on the matter is ‘institutional racism’ even though it’s not stated. That’s some sound logic right there.”

        That’s how institutional racism works. That’s what institutional racism is. And the rest of your take on the matter is petty and irrelevant.

        Takere: I understand there can be problems if Pakeha are researching Maori, but why can’t a Pakeha research Pakeha?

    • Charter schools are a red herring. Kura kaupapa Māori existed for decades before the charter schools experiment, and will continue long after the next government cancels it.

      Kura kaupapa are part of a category called “special character schools”, which unlike charter schools, get the same level of funding per student as any other public school, have to teach the same curriculum as other public schools (as do home schoolers), and their teachers have to be properly qualified and registered. Charter schools are a trojan horse for the corporatization of education, and we don’t need them to give educators space to use alternative pedagogies like Steiner education, “democratic” schools (like Discovery1 and Unlimited in Ōtautahi), or kura kaupapa.

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