How Pākehā Principals within Four English Medium Primary Schools Improve the Educational Outcomes of Māori Ākonga within their Schools
Aotearoa/New Zealand is a bicultural nation in a multi-cultural society. Despite this rich diversity of cultural and ethnic heritage, educators are overrepresented by those who define themselves as Pākehā, include school leadership. The vast majority of principals within schools are Pākeha. Whist the vision of the Ministry of Education is to allow all New Zealanders to have the opportunity to fulfil their inherent potential, governmental data consistently shows that Māori ākonga are underserved by the education system. Much of the policy and direction within Aotearoa/New Zealand schools is in the hands of individual principals and it therefore follows that if the nation’s education system is to successfully overturn the educational disparity of Māori ākonga the practices and actions of principals are of importance. Recently, researchers have identified successful leadership practices that support the successful outcomes of students. While a cultural lens has been applied by some of these researchers, research specifically investigating the practices of Pākehā principals is limited. This study aimed to identify the successful practices employed by Pākehā principals to address the disparity of success experienced by Māori ākonga. Thematic analysis of data from a focus group was used to identify and explore the actions and practices that four effective Pākehā principals employed to redress the inequity of Māori ākonga within their schools. Analysis revealed that there was a commonality of practices between the four principals. Motivation to address inequity was rooted in their own personal experiences and stories. The stories and experiences related by the principals revealed that practices were concentrated upon engagement with community, professional learning, staffing practices, the importance of tikanga and visibility of Māori culture. The findings suggest that there are specific practices that Pākehā principals need to engage in to ensure that all ākonga have the opportunities and chances to achieve their potential.