This paper examines changing concepts of teachers' professional accountability in New Zealand over the last fifty years and explores the resulting implications for initial teacher education. It analyses a series of official documents including the report of the Consultative Committee (the Campbell Committee Report, 1951), the Currie Commission Report (1961), the Select Committee Report on the Quality of Teaching (1986) and the Green Paper on Teacher Education (1997). Wilkin (1996) theorised that teacher education is best understood as an ongoing dialogue between official ideology and the culture of the professional community. The post war consensus on educational aims in New Zealand served to inhibit public dialogue in New Zealand until the 1980s. Since then the definition of professionalism and accountability have been more openly contested. The paper explores how this debate has impacted on initial teacher education in the new competitive environment resulting from government educational policies of the 1990s and how institutions, organisations, and individuals have endorsed, adapted, or resisted the assumptions on which these new policies are based.