Māori Equity in New Zealand’s Polytechnics
This thesis takes a poststructuralist approach to examining outcomes for Māori students in polytechnic education in contemporary Aotearoa-New Zealand, as a site of equity in tertiary education policy. I use the term ‘postmodernism’ to capture the decline of modernism, which was associated with belief in the superiority of science and Western European culture, and which came increasingly under critique by poststructuralists in the post-WWII period. The failure of the radical political Left and an incredulity towards the ‘grand narratives’ of capitalism is described as the ‘postmodern condition’. Poststructuralism has slightly different philosophical roots, representing a move beyond the structuralist paradigm, which ruled in social science during the modernist era. Poststructuralism is characterised most distinctively by the philosophy of Michel Foucault. The third related term used in the thesis is (post) qualitative, which refers to an emergent movement beyond ‘traditional’ qualitative research methodologies that retain allegiance to modernist frameworks. An effort has been made to reflect poststructuralist sensibilities in study design by collecting empirical data using ‘standard’ interview methods, which were then processed by writing fictionalised narratives.
Teaching and other polytechnic staff have responsibility for giving effect to Māori equity policy, so this study investigates how staff, including Māori staff, in polytechnics experience and enact Māori equity policies. The importance of equity is a central feature of a second-tier tertiary offering and defines, to a large extent, its raison d’être. Moreover, how Māori navigate the education system provides a special challenge to Aotearoa-New Zealand’s settler colonialism through a potential crisis in legitimation. Technology and technical education share a root in the ancient Greek notion of technê. A better understanding of the etymology and genealogy of technê reveals important philosophical contributions to our common assumptions about technical education and undergirds an historical account of technical education and the development of the New Zealand polytechnic sector. The economic philosophy of neoliberalism is a radical version of classical liberalism that was used to reconfigure the New Zealand economy and public sector,
including education systems, in a rapid process initiated between 1984 and 1990. Consequently, the polytechnics were reconstructed as autonomous institutes, responsible for their own strategic direction and meeting government priorities whilst maintaining financial sustainability. Post neoliberal reform, polytechnics were expected to address inclusion by widening