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Lost in Wonderland: Policy, Education and Māori Realities
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The history of Māori society and education shows how Māori identity and culture have not remained static, but have been subject to ongoing processes of change. Despite many decades of policy initiatives, Māori underachievement in education remains of concern. This research uses the principles of Kaupapa Māori research methodology and narrative methods to explore the extent to which education policies can help Māori students to ‘be Māori’ and to ‘succeed as Māori’ in 2019 and beyond. Principles of Kaupapa Māori work together with autoethnographic research methods to guide ethics in narrative research. As an insider-researcher who is embedded in this topic, I am careful to ensure that my stories are presented in a way that upholds the dignity and mana of Māori culture, and of the people who appear as characters. Use of original narratives exposes issues relating to my own educational experiences and cultural identity, and recounts the journey I have travelled to where I am today. Past policies damaged the use and transmission of Māori language, and forced many Māori to become disconnected from their culture. Dual or multiple heritages and urbanisation are further factors in the changes in Māori identity. Dislocation from traditional cultural identity has been passed down to those generations of Māori who are currently students in education, endangering a Māori sense of pride in being Māori. The findings of this study suggest that educational experiences for Māori have been, and continue to be, strongly disrupted by government policies.