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One against the grain: Re-imagining the face of school leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand

Lorri Johnson Santamaria (University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)
Andres Peter Santamaria (Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Gurdev Kaur Pritam Singh (University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to reframe transformative and culturally sustaining leadership for a diverse global society by addressing the need for educational systems to better serve people of color, situated in the urban Auckland area of Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ), who have been marginalized by the societies to which they immigrate.


Grounded in an applied critical theoretical framework, this qualitative inquiry uses raw auto-ethnographical data gleaned from a case study featuring the voice of Deva, a Malaysian Punjabi woman educator, who is also an aspiring school leader. In aspects of her auto-ethnography, she candidly shares experiences of racism, discrimination, and oppression germane to her professional educational experiences in Aotearoa NZ.


Findings inform practice and policy to foster more inclusive school improvement in a bicultural and increasingly multicultural context that has historically recognized Maori (indigenous to Aotearoa NZ), Pakeha (of European descent), and Pacific Islander (e.g. Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Niue, Cook Islands) achievement in a national context. Global and international implications are included.


This contribution presents a unique perspective showcasing Deva’s direct experiences with acknowledgment of and professional positioning around Te Tiriti o Waitangi – The Treaty of Waitangi, the principles of which are now being applied not only to the rights of Maori and Pakeha, but also Pacific Islander and immigrants to the country.



Johnson Santamaria, L., Peter Santamaria, A. and Singh, G.K.P. (2017), "One against the grain: Re-imagining the face of school leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 31 No. 5, pp. 612-621.



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