Education and hybridity: Maori and Pasifika students' perspectives on their educational experiences

Year: 2005

Author: Fitzpatrick, Katie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

National qualification achievement statistics show that Maori and Pasifika students in the New Zealand education system underachieve in comparison to other groups (Ministry of Education, 2000). Literature focusing on these trends has tended to centre either on raising achievement by addressing 'gaps' (Hill & Hawk, 1998, 2000, 2003), or by arguing that marginalized students will continue to underachieve while current systemic inequities exist (Smith, 2000; Tiatia, 1998). In both cases, however, Maori and Pasifika students are most often constructed as culturally homogeneous and static, rather than as hybrid and dynamic.

This paper reports on a qualitative study that sought the voices of Maori and Pasifika students in order to understand how they viewed their educational experiences. These are related to Besley's (2002) theory of hybridity - which recognizes the complexity of influences and values that young people are subject to - in order to ascertain how these young people negotiate diverse influences in dynamic and critical ways. From this, it is argued that a recognition of hybridity, and its associated complexity, is necessary if debates about the educational experiences of Maori and Pasifika students in New Zealand schools are to move forward.