Settler affirmations: Liana MacDonald, Avery Smith, Hine Funaki, ‘”When Am I Supposed to Teach Māori and Find the Time to Learn it?“: Settler Affirmations in Aotearoa New Zealand Schools’, New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 2021


Abstract: The Ministry of Education, Teaching Council and other groups aligned with the teaching profession are increasingly acknowledging the impact of racism, yet there is a dearth of research that moves beyond unconscious bias to examine how race is socially constructed in schools. In this paper, we present four autoethnographic accounts from Tracey to draw attention to the phenomenon of settler affirmations; a form of interpersonal and institutional racial bonding that reaffirms settler perspectives and sensibilities in schools. Settler affirmations are exchanges that pass between educators who are perceived to be Pākehā (New Zealanders primarily of European descent.) to sustain silencing. Silencing is a racial discourse that aims to keep the descendants of settlers in a state of racial comfort by reinforcing historically resolved and equitable bicultural relations and ignorance and denial of the structuring force of colonisation. Moreover, the discursive process is exacerbated by the organisation and administrative design of the institution. Indeed, our analysis of Tracey’s vignettes brings to the fore everyday ways that the cultural and environmental norms of schooling affirm the settler colonial heart of New Zealand education. We conclude the paper by considering how settler affirmations can affect the compulsory roll out of the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum in 2022. In doing so, we highlight the need for an urgent and earnest focus by policy makers, researchers, and teachers to respond to the social construction of race in education.

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