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Schooling for 'lesser beings'

Using Edward Said’s notion of ‘lesser beings’, it is argued that the political culture of schooling for Maori was and still is part of a pervasive Western European intellectual climate and culture which has a quite recent history, and which provided powerful support for the notion of Europe possessing a categorical superiority over all other continents, which in turn justified imperialism or neo-colonialism as civilising missions. Racism and violence were endemic in colonialism and, despite the claimed moral high ground, were endemic in Aotearoa/New Zealand. War was eulogised in the Native School system more than once. The rise and demise of the World War II Maori War Organisation is illustrative of the rejection of Maori aspirations. There were still no Maori in the senior echelons of the Maori Department in 1972. The Native, later Maori, School system was overtly designed to 'Europeanise' Maori children and therefore Maori society. Individualism was deeply embedded in English and set-tler thinking, whilst communal, ‘communist’ Maori society was to be destroyed. The thesis examines images of colonialism, empire and imperialism in fiction and non-fiction, New Zealand and British, for adults and children, and notes the attitudes of think-ers like J S Mill and Darwin, of children’s authors Jules Verne and G H Henty, and of New Zealand author William Satchell. The images continue, pervasive and endemic, in recent adult novels. Science also played a role, as did history. Ranginui Walker, who is Maori, is the only historian to have written a history of New Zea-land which addressed the issue of waste lands, an issue on which Pakeha historians have a blind spot. New Zealand encyclopedia do not index ‘waste land’ or ‘confiscation’. Only two Waikato histories deal adequately, or even accurately, with confiscation, the central episode in the history of the Waikato. Tourist material is equally illustrative. The Native Schools section of the Education Department ran the Native Schools like a fiefdom, operating in legislative and regulatory black holes for the first thirty years and for much of the time after that. Teachers were moved around at will. The practice of James H Pope, the first inspector of Native Schools, is closely and critically examined, and negatively assessed. His official writings were consistently derogatory of Maori, and his decisions in respect of Te Kopua Native School were at times detrimental to the pupils. Pope was a product of his times. The Te Kopua record is closely scrutinised, and the practice of the Education Department is frequently found wanting. It is probable that the establishment of the school was aimed to destabilise King Country Maori, not to benefit the children. It is a story of Maori co-operation and contribution. Part Two is a detailed partial biography of Te Kopua, it being argued that until there is a significant corpus of studies of Native Schools a valid history of the Native/Maori School system and of schooling for Maori is not possible
Type of thesis
Holdom, J. (1998). Schooling for ‘lesser beings’ (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8639
University of Waikato
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