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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.

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. 

Enacting alofa between NZ and Samoa
In this article Dr Rae Si’ilata explores the Samoan cultural value of reciprocity and what it means for the relationship between Aotearoa New Zealand and the nation of Samoa. 

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.

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.

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.

Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners (2011) 
Tātaiako has been developed to help all educators think about what it takes to successfully teach Māori learners. It provides a guide to the development of cultural competence for teachers themselves, for their employers, and for Initial Teacher Education providers and providers of on-going teacher professional development. 

Creating culturally-safe schools for Māori students
This paper reports on the work of four scholars who share research that has been undertaken in educational settings with high numbers of Māori students. It presents ideas for creating culturally-safe schools; places that allow and enable students to be who and what they are. Although the report focuses on the cultural backgrounds and experiences of Māori students, many of the ideas and recommendations will be of benefit to all students.

Paul Irving, Riccarton School: Sabbatical report
This report investigates what initiatives and programmes are being utilised by best practice primary schools in New Zealand to be culturally responsive to Pasifika learners and to improve Pasifika achievement.

Jocelyn Uasike, St Joseph's School (Pukekohe): Sabbatical report
This report investigates how parental engagement contributes to student achievement in schools, how to encourage greater engagement of Pasifika parents, and to provide an opportunity for the Pasifika 'voice' to be heard.

John Armstrong, Henley School (Nelson): Sabbatical report
This report looks at how to develop an Asia Aware school by visiting Asian educational institutes and implementing and increasing cultural awareness.

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.

Enabling e-Learning: Being culturally responsive
This section of Enabling e-learning shows how teachers can harness e-learning tools and online resources to recognise and value the cultures that students bring with them to the classroom.

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.

NZC Update 3 – The role of the principles
This Update explores the role of the curriculum principles in designing and reviewing the school curriculum.

Teaching and learning

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

Asia NZ Foundation NCEA resources
These NCEA teaching and learning resources offer ways to align Asia knowledge with the NCEA standards through different contexts, approaches, and learning areas.


Blended e-Learning for Māori and Pasifika Learners
A group in the VLN for educators to share ideas and resources, discuss practice and pedagogy, and provide support for each other with the aim of engaging Māori and Pasifika learners so that they may achieve educational success whilst maintaining their cultural integrity.

Gifted Pasifika Education
This is the forum for people who would like to know more about Gifted Pasifika education and how they can connect with Pasifika learners and identify their cultural giftedness.

Learning and Change Networks New Zealand on Vimeo
A group of schools/kura and communities working together to grow capability and to accelerate achievement of priority learners in ways that recognise cultural diversity and that grows innovative and effective 21st century learning environments.


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: 08 Mar 2015