Exploring understandings of Pacific values in New Zealand educational contexts: Similarities and differences among perceptions



policy, cultural values, Pacific Nations, teacher perspectives, initial teacher education, teacher professional development


Case studies exploring how educational policies can help teachers serve learners disadvantaged through cultural marginalization are urgently needed to inform education systems internationally. The study reported here explored perceptions of Pacific cultural values at the heart of education policy in New Zealand that were intended to improve opportunities of learners with Pacific heritage. Participants included early childhood, primary, secondary, and tertiary teachers of Pacific and non-Pacific heritage. Data included interviews and teaching observations. Results indicate that the Pacific values can be more deeply felt, understood, and enacted by Pacific teachers than their non-Pacific counterparts. Results are discussed in relation to tenets of culturally sustaining pedagogy and aspects of the Pacific-based Fonofale model. Implications of this work include that initial and in-service teacher education must assist teachers to develop working understandings of values as they are felt and experienced by policy target groups. This study contributes to the literature by discussing how a culturally-embedded model can be a useful tool towards ensuring teachers can understand cultural nuances inherent within educational policy and align their practice with these.

Author Biography

Robin Averill, Victoria University of Wellington

Robin Averill is Associate Professor in the Wellington Faculty of Education working mainly in mathematics education.

Robin has previously held the roles of Associate Dean (Teacher Education), Mathematics Education Curriculum Leader and Postgraduate Programme Director, and earlier worked in secondary school teaching, professional development facilitation, and national assessment and moderation.

With an extensive background in mathematics teacher education, Robin teaches in primary and secondary initial teacher education and Masters programmes and supervises Masters and doctoral thesis students.

Robin’s research focusses on enhancing equity of access to learning and achievement, in particular through the areas of culturally responsive, mathematics, and teacher education.






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