Biculturalism vs. superdiversity as decoy: Angel Chan, Jenny Ritchie, ‘Responding to Superdiversity Whilst Upholding Te Tiriti O Waitangi: Challenges for Early Childhood Teacher Education in Aotearoa New Zealand’ in Jillian Fox, Colette Alexander, Tania Aspland (eds), Teacher Education in Globalised Times, Springer, 2020, pp. 219-237


Abstract: Countries with a superdiverse population due to increases in migration have been slow in recognising and addressing social inequalities driven by this situation (Vertovec, 2007). In Aotearoa (New Zealand), there are now more than 200 different ethnic groups and 27.4% of its population was born overseas (Statistics New Zealand, 2019), and there is also an increasing number of students with diverse cultural, linguistic and migration backgrounds enrolled in the country’s early childhood teacher education programmes. The manifestation of superdiversity in Aotearoa is particularly complex and challenging since it occurs within a legislated ‘bicultural’ context (Royal Society of New Zealand, 2013). In light of these concerns, this paper reports findings from a study which utilised a methodology of critical discourse analysis (Gee, 2011; Jørgensen & Phillips, 2002) to examine several key institutional policy documents in order to interrogate the responsibilities of early childhood teacher education in supporting both the country’s commitment to ‘biculturalism’ and its current superdiverse demographics. The theoretical analysis draws on Vertovec’s (2007) superdiversity approach, critical multiculturalism (May, 1999) and critical and Indigenous pedagogies of place (Penetito, 2009; Perumal, 2015). While all the documents make explicit references to ‘bicultural’ commitments, minimal attention is given to migration-related inequality issues. Our analysis highlighted complex inter-relationships and tensions between honouring ‘biculturalism’ and catering for superdiversity. Recognising and addressing this complexity is important in future policy development, and teacher education providers need to ensure that their graduates have the knowledge and skills to work equitably with children, families and communities in order to address inequalities emanating from the history of colonisation in Aotearoa as well as the current superdiversity situation.

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