Year: 1992

Author: McNaughton, Stuart

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This is a history of how the Education Department at the University of Auckland came to create a position in Bicultural Education which has since developed into two Senior Lectureships in Maori Education. The history is designed to explore the conditions and processes for change in a department that had not previously recognised a need to appoint in such an area nor appoint Maori personnel to such positions. It is a case study of the reconstruction of academic structures. These structures had functioned to control knowledge, fields of enquiry and pedagogy in ways that were self perpetuating and exclusionary. The history is written by a psychologist who has no pretensions or illusions about his expertise as an historian. Writing histories seems to me to be a fraught exercise. The attraction is great to ascribe clearly articulated intentions to actions. Yet many of the decisions were contingent. Commitments were dimly held and reasons for courses of actions often incompletely articulated. My experience in this development is one of emerging beliefs and the development of a critical awareness of needs, structures and responsibilities. The case study explores conditions and processes through a selective account of events in roughly chronological order. The focus is on the role of pakeha staff members involved in developing the positions. Three themes are significant and I have used the records to illustrate them. The first is the effect of dialogue and collaboration with Maori groups in the construction of effective action. A second is the presence of a "critical mass" in the form of a self reflective group of academics sharing expertise and commitments. The third is a developmental process; an increasing awareness by pakeha staff of structures which created barriers to Maori staffing arising both from within the department and extra to the department. The role of contesting issues with each other was crucial to this development. Qualitative shifts in knowledge are often constructed through conflictual processes (Karmiloff-Smith, 1992).