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Cultural diversity

This section draws together research, digital resources, and examples to support schools as they consider the cultural diversity principle.

Ideas and resources

Research, resources, and ideas to support schools in understanding and enacting the cultural diversity curriculum principle.

Policy and frameworks

Pasifika Education Plan
The Pasifika Education Plan 2013-2017 (PEP) is aimed at raising Pasifika learners’ participation, engagement and achievement from early learning through to tertiary education.

Tapasā (PDF)
Tapasā is a tool designed to help improve the way teachers and leaders engage with Pacific learners, and to an extent parents, families and their communities, to make the biggest difference in a child’s educational success. 

Research and readings

Core Education blog: Going Back to the island (May 2018)
Teanau Tuiono reflects on his own cultural heritage and urges educators to dive deeper into the cultures that our students bring into the classroom.  

Responding to Language Diversity in Auckland (April 2018)
Auckland is New Zealand’s most culturally diverse city, with over 100 ethnicities and more than 150 languages spoken on a daily basis. How are schools and early learning services in Auckland responding to this increasing cultural and language diversity?

Pasifika Students, Pasifika Cultural Activities, and Engagement With Pasifika Families (December 2017)
The NZCER national survey of primary and intermediate schools 2016 included a number of questions that asked specifically about matters related to Pasifika students, Pasifika families, or Pasifika cultural activities at school. We have brought the responses to these questions together for researchers working in Pasifika education.

Ngāue Fakataha ki he ako 'a e Fānau: Report on the Development Phase (Phase One) of a Research and Development Project 
This 2016 research and development project examined Pasifika parents' relationships with schools and teachers, regarding their children's learning. The project team developed a Talanoa Ako Cycle – 'Talanoa ako' is 'talking together about education' – to support the process of working together.

Improving Education Outcomes for Pacific Learners (May 2012) 
This is ERO's third report on the progress of schools in promoting Pacific student achievement. The report recommends that schools better understand the diverse interests and needs of Pacific students and include highly relevant contexts that value their existing knowledge.

The New Zealand Curriculum Principles: Foundations for Curriculum Decision-Making (July 2012)
This is ERO’s second national evaluation report looking at the extent to which the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum are evident in schools’ curricula and enacted in classrooms. The report describes how the cultural diversity principle is evident in schools. These descriptors can be used to help you reflect on your practice.

Directions for Learning: The New Zealand Curriculum Principles, and Teaching as Inquiry (May 2011)
This is ERO’s first national evaluation report looking at the extent to which the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum are evident in schools’ curricula and enacted in classrooms. The report describes how the cultural diversity principle is evident in schools. These descriptors can be used to help you reflect on your practice.

Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling (June 2003)
This report is one of a series of best evidence syntheses commissioned by the Ministry of Education. It explains ten characteristics of quality teaching to support teachers to manage the learning needs of diverse students.

BES cases

The following cases from Best Evidence Synthesis iterations are user-friendly resources to support focussed professional learning related to the cultural diversity principle.

BES Case 18 – Integrate indigenous knowledge into the curriculum
This case, situated in Canada, explains how important a culturally responsive teaching approach was to the success of indigenous learners from low socio-economic status communities.

BES Case 11 – Create educationally powerful connections with learners’ cultures
This case illustrates how teachers can use practical strategies to encourage their students to draw on family and community knowledge and, in this way, accelerate their achievement.

BES Case 7 – Establish culturally responsive relationships with students to reduce educational disparities and raise achievement
This case presents the Te Kotahitanga professional development model (GEPRISP) and Effective Teaching Profile that many New Zealand secondary schools have used to improve outcomes for Māori and Pasifika students.

TKI communities and resources

Pasifika Education Community
This site provides resources, research, and other materials for teachers and school leaders to support the achievement of Pasifika learners and create a culturally responsive curriculum.

Te Kotahitanga: Raising Māori student achievement
Te Kotahitanga sought to investigate how to improve the educational achievement of Māori students in mainstream secondary school classrooms, by talking with Māori students and other participants in their education. It was from these narratives that the rest of the Te Kōtahitanga project developed.

He Kākano
He Kākano, a strategic school-based professional development programme, sought to build culturally responsive leadership and teacher practices to ensure Māori learners enjoy educational success as Māori.

Inclusive Education Guides for Schools
This site provides New Zealand educators with practical strategies, suggestions, and resources to support learners with diverse needs. The guide on developing an inclusive classroom culture has a strong correlation with the cultural diversity principle.  

Asia Knowledge
This website is designed to help schools become Asia Aware.  

ESOL Online
ESOL Online is a site to help all primary and secondary teachers respond to the needs of their English language learners.

Learning Languages
This TKI community provides professional learning opportunities, resources, and key links for learning languages.

International capabilities
This section of NZC Online supports students to develop international capabilities – the knowledge, skills, attitudes, dispositions, and values that make up the key competencies that enable people to live, work, and learn across national and cultural boundaries.

Inclusive Education Guides for Schools – Supporting Pasifika students
This guide focuses on inclusive teaching and learning strategies that can be used in the classroom to create a more effective learning environment for all Pasifika students.

NZC Updates

NZC Update 10 – Engaging with families from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds (PDF 2MB)
This Update focuses on partnerships between schools and diverse families and communities. It provides ideas on how to incorporate family and community knowledge into the curriculum.

NZC Update 1 – Family and community engagement (PDF 2MB)
This Update focuses on engagement with whānau and Māori communities, and offers ideas on how to create a closer matching between the cultural contexts of home and school.

Teaching and learning

Defining diversity activities
This is a selection of activities from the Ministry of Education publication Defining Diversity: A Facilitation Manual to use with New to New Zealand (2008). The activities are designed to assist Boards of Trustees, senior management, teachers, and parents to deepen their understanding of cultural diversity and encourage the development of culturally appropriate responses. 

Living Heritage
Living Heritage is an online bilingual initiative that enables New Zealand and Pacific Island schools or individual students or youths to develop and publish an online resource, based on a heritage treasure in their community.

Social Studies Online – Interact: Cultural Diversity in Aotearoa New Zealand
This level 5 unit explores the nature of "cultural interaction" in Aotearoa New Zealand today by examining ways in which cultures interact and the implications this has for communities.

Asia NZ Foundation – Education
This education programme provides information, resources, and professional development opportunities to help build students’ knowledge and understanding of Asia.

Islamic practices observed by Muslim students: Guidelines for New Zealand schools (PDF)
This resource is designed to help New Zealand schools with Muslim students, in their understanding of some of the Islamic practices their students may observe during school time. 

Guide to basic Muslim etiquette (PDF)
This guide shares information about Muslim values, customs, and festivals. It serves as a guide only so do check with your Muslim families if you are not sure as there may still be some cultural differences.

Tongan language, culture, and identity
Ma’ata Fusitu’a is a teacher of the Tongan language at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in South Auckland. In this blog Ma’ata explains some important aspects of Tongan family life and culture and offers some suggestions on how we can support Tongan language and culture in our schools and classrooms.

Being Tokelau in Aotearoa
Aloihio Kave Kelemete is an educator of Tokelau descent. In this blog, Hio explains some important aspects of Tokelau identity and offers suggestions on how we can promote Tokelau language and culture in our schools and classrooms.

Our Niuean cultural experience
Karl Vasau, principal of Rowandale School in South Auckland, recently took some of his teachers to Niue to learn more about the language and culture. In this blog, Karl reflects on this cultural exchange and shares some activities that his school uses to promote the language and culture of Niue.


Changing Māori educational experiences 
In this video, Russell Bishop talks about incorporating culturally responsive pedagogy – "what’s really important is the pedagogy in the classroom needs to be based upon being responsive to the culture of the child."  

Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story
In this TEDtalk, novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice – and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

EDtalk – Samoan students dance to the beat of New Zealand assessments
Filimanaia Akata Galuvao outlines the basis of her PhD study into assessment. She points out that many students are experiencing three contrasting cultures: as children of New Zealand Samoans, as students of New Zealand culture, and as members of a suburban teenage culture. While they bring a pool of knowledge to assessments, it is different and removed from the knowledge that they are expected to have in order to achieve in standardised tests.

YouTube – Why cultural diversity matters
This talk was given at a TEDx event. Michael Gavin, Associate Professor of human dimensions of natural resources, researches biological diversity and discusses the importance that history, language, and tradition have in the preservation of culture – including examples from te reo Māori.

"The culture of the child cannot enter the classroom until it has first entered the consciousness of the teacher." Source: BLENNZ

Updated on: 26 Mar 2019