Role of Treaty of Waitangi in Education Based in New Zealand

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Part 1: Critical reflection

It is easy on one level to make judgements about what happened in the past based on current beliefs and prevailing modern attitudes. In this scenario, the matter of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi and the inherently dubious manner in which it was ‘agreed’ and signed leads to a notion of duplicitous wrongdoing on the part of white (predominantly British) settlers and prospective settlers on the one hand and indigenous peoples on the other. The consequences of these actions over the following one and a half centuries or so can easily be seen. But on the other hand, how far should inter-generational responsibility be taken, especially in view of the fact that the British side to the Treaty were not necessarily acting out of malice, as Network Waitangi (2008) explains? In other words, the colonialist expressions of European superiority were generally held views at the time and the notions of ruling were considered essential if the nation was to be ‘civilized.’

On the other hand, rights and freedoms can become mere semantics and platitudes if there is not real and fundamental change because we each are what our culture and our early experiences taught us to be in terms of society and community. Therefore, regardless of laws and expressions of equality, and even regardless of which culture or society was here ‘first,’ the fact is that children being brought into one society and one culture in their homes and communities but being expected to be schooled and eventually to work in another is wrong and is disadvantageous and has nothing to do with multiculturalism and everything to do with mono-culturalism.

It is in this way that the Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi should be seen, namely as representing something that made the society wrong for many people in the population for so long and it is, as we gain greater insights and understandings about cognitions within cultures and communities, a focal point...
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