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Challenging Existing Spaces: Deconstructing Indigenous Power Imbalances Within Aotearoa New Zealand

aUniversity of Otago, New Zealand
bUniversity of Canterbury, New Zealand

Global Meaning Making

ISBN: 978-1-80117-933-1, eISBN: 978-1-80117-932-4

Publication date: 23 August 2022


In this chapter, we use intentional noticing to deconstruct and reconstruct assumptions within an exploratory case study that involved a university and a school in Aotearoa New Zealand and how this contributes to global understandings around the influence of power on notions of Indigenous languages in schools. The current chapter originates from an exploratory case study that examined the efficacy of a phonological awareness and vocabulary program for children within their early years of schooling, aimed at developing emergent literacy skills in te reo Māori (the language of Indigenous Māori peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand). Reconstructing understandings was challenged by several factors, including assumptions around the content and implementation of the program and challenges that emerged from within the research team and that influenced the engagement of teachers and children within the program. We explore how teachers and children interrupted existing models of teaching and learning that have previously been used as a tool for assimilation, to foster the development of te reo Māori and emergent literacy skills. We conclude that it is crucial for researchers to be conscious of their assumptions within the research process to decolonize practices and to develop cultural understandings of ways of being. This means that relationships with Indigenous peoples is fundamental within cross-cultural research.




The authors are extremely grateful to the children, teachers, principal, local tribal authority, sub-tribal groups, and other community leaders from the original case study. Thanks to Richard Manning who supported us with this manuscript. The original case study was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (NZ) (Grant Number 15-02688).


Martin, R. and Denston, A. (2022), "Challenging Existing Spaces: Deconstructing Indigenous Power Imbalances Within Aotearoa New Zealand", Assaf, L.C., Sowa, P. and Zammit, K. (Ed.) Global Meaning Making (Advances in Research on Teaching, Vol. 39), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 101-116.



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Copyright © 2022 Rachel Martin and Amanda Denston. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited