Literature review on the experiences of Pasifika learners in the classroom

Publication Details

There are new challenges for education systems in knowledge societies. All learners need to be well served by their education to develop the requisite capabilities and sense of belonging and wellbeing to succeed and contribute to wider communities. This requires a responsive, future-focused education system, based on high expectations for successful outcomes amongst diverse learner groups.

Author(s): Dr P. Bruce Ferguson, Dr. R. Gorinski, T. Wendt Samu & Dr D. Mara

Date Published: June 2008


The literature examined reveals a complex and incongruent picture of an educational system operational in New Zealand that impacts differentially on its participants-both teachers and learners. While the experiences of teachers in this system go beyond the parameters of the current study, those of learners are central to the analysis that follows. This analysis reinforces the claim by Bishop (2003, p. 226) that what is needed is "a pedagogy that is holistic, flexible and complex", that recognises and validates students' individual and collective diversities.

Section one: Cultural distinctiveness ↔ Consciousness of cultural difference

Distinctiveness and power relations

Historically, New Zealand has relied upon the skills of people from diverse countries and cultural backgrounds to assist with the development of this country (Brown, 1995). However, immigration policy has not been neutral or oblivious to the race or cultures of potential migrants. Brooking & Rabel (1995) argue that as a consequence of its "white British" migration policies from 1899 to the outbreak of World War II, 96 percent of non-Māori New Zealanders were of British descent (p. 34). The composition of New Zealand's population did not become noticeably more diverse until after the 1960s. This was a direct consequence of immigration policies focusing more explicitly on addressing the economy's labour needs, rather than on facilitating the settlement of who could assimilate the most rapidly.

The historical positioning of Pasifika peoples as a multi-ethnic group in New Zealand society is rooted in New Zealand's labour market needs, and the use of immigration policies to address them. The significant inflows of migrants from Pacific nations such as Samoa in the 1960s through to the early 1970s, resulted in sharp increases in the number of Pacific peoples in New Zealand. For example, census figures in 1956 showed that New Zealand had a total of 8,103 Pacific peoples. In 1966, this figure had risen to 26,271. By 1976, it was 65,694 (Department of Statistics as cited by Samu, 1998, p. 203).

Ongley (1996) applied a political economy of labour migration perspective on this situation. This perspective examined the role of the state in managing the economy via immigration. More particularly, the perspective examined the impact on class relations and the ways in which, in this material context, racism was generated (p. 14). In other words, Ongley argued that the influx of Pacific migrants in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, into a narrow range of occupations (requiring few or no skills) within a mono-cultural, mono-lingual society explained the vulnerable, disempowered positioning of Pasifika peoples in New Zealand society. Despite the emergence of first and even second generation Pasifika peoples in New Zealand, there has been limited change to this situation.

An examination of the effects of such socio-political events on schooling is important. While the literature suggested that there have been reciprocal benefits for these immigrants, it also clearly indicates that insufficient has been done to recognise and enhance the abilities of some new immigrants and their children. Consequently, many have not always benefited from the processes of education in ways that build appropriately on their skills and abilities, and have not achieved equitably in New Zealand classroom settings (Macpherson, Bedford & Spoonley, 2000).

An alternative, critical perspective of the processes of schooling can be drawn from the argument that Lei (2006) presented about Asian American and Pasifika students in the United States. She argued that:

…educators need to be aware that immigration experiences can affect Asian and Pacific Islander students differently, that students and their families may have different types of relationships with their native countries, and that these experiences and relationships shape the students' views toward their position in US schools and society (p. 93).

Lei suggested schools are sites wherein both teachers and students may encounter ethnic diversity for the first time. Schools are often places where minority students such as Pacific Islanders learn about the social positioning of their cultural and ethnic groups in wider society. In other words, it may be their first exposure to an awareness of where they are located in the wider social order. Lei insists on:

…the greater need to understand how the…order manifests itself within the education system…[and] how...Pacific Islanders are positioned in classrooms-as model minorities, 'honorary whites', cultural or racialised beings, foreigners, or are they simply invisible? (2006, p. 93).

An understanding of the immigration history of Pasifika people to New Zealand, particularly from a critical perspective (such as the political economy of labour migration) may enable teachers and educators to better appreciate the role of schooling in reproducing wider society, as well as assist in conceiving students as "having complex social identities" (Lei, 2006, p. 94).

New Zealand's future student demographics predict an estimated rise from the current 1 in 10 Pasifika learners, to one in five of the total schooling population by 2051 (Ministry of Education figures, quoted in Parkhill, Fletcher & Fa'afoi, 2005). Those learners will represent a wide variety of Pasifika nations. Statistics provided by the Ministry of Education (2004, p. 3) showed that 49 percent of the Pasifika population were Samoan; 22.6 percent Cook Islands Māori; 17.5 percent Tongan; 8.6 percent Niuean; 3 percent Fijian; 2.6 percent Tokelauan and 0.8 percent Tuvaluan. The Ministry's data further revealed that 60 percent of the Pasifika population in New Zealand were born in this country. Given that 60 percent of Pasifika peoples reside in the Auckland region, the implications of these projections for early childhood education services and schools (both primary and secondary) is immense (Samu, 2006a, p. 37).

Critical to the achievement of equitable educational outcomes for Pasifika learners is the right to be included appropriately in all processes of education (Bishop, 2003; Jones, 1991; Lei, 2006; Sheets, 2005; Tuafuti & McCaffery, 2005; Tupuola, 1998). Such inclusion is reliant upon schools, teachers, and other students acknowledging the right of Pasifika learners to "be themselves" and to "see themselves and their culture reflected" in the classroom environment (Benham, 2006; Bishop, 2003; Cahill, 2006; Lei, 2006; Nakhid, 2003; Rata et al., 1998;Tupuola, 1998). The recognition process is inextricably linked to issues of power and control. Tuafuti and McCaffery argued that structural disempowerment of Pasifika peoples is most evident when there is:

…promotion of a wide range of initiatives…[without the inclusion]…of bilingual immersion education (2005, p. 483).

Through curriculum development, and approaches to teaching and learning, teachers, learners, and other members of the educational community decide (consciously and/or subconsciously) how and whether to acknowledge Pasifika existence, distinctiveness, and cultural practice in classrooms (Bishop, 2003; Nakhid, 2003; Parkhill, et al., 2005; Rata et al. 1998; Tuafuti & McCaffery, 2005; Tupuola, 1998). In doing so, they inherently assume a position of power that either facilitates equitable practices or subverts them. As some authors have pointed out (e.g. Fletcher, Parkhill & Fa'afoi, 2005) the inclusion resultant from recognition of Pasifika difference can also cause problems for schools. Sheets (2005) reinforced this observation, noting that students' ethnicity affects whether or not they are included in the classroom context. Cahill (2006) discussed a specific example of this situation in relation to Samoan students. She cited Mageo (1998) who argued that having a different perspective in which to see and experience life does not mean inferior intellectual capacity. Cahill stated that:

What it does do is make identification with learning processes and methods viewed through a different lens more difficult for Samoan children to grasp, while posing an added challenge to classroom educators (2006, p. 69).

The realisation of the cultural distinctiveness of diverse learners requires modified practice by others involved in the educational process.

Strategies to facilitate cultural distinctiveness

The rich variety of Pasifika backgrounds and the range of learning styles amongst Pasifika learners were identified as problematic in the literature, because of the inherent challenges they pose in terms of inclusion and potential tokenism (Jones, 1991; Nakhid, 2003; Parkhill et al., 2005; Sheets, 2005; Tupuola, 1998). Samu analysed the implications of such variety or diversity for the development of quality teaching when she critiqued the "Pasifika Umbrella" (2006a). Carpenter (2001, p. 111), citing McCutcheon (1997, p. 198), commented on the "null curriculum" or what students are not permitted to learn, because of the exclusion of certain subjects from the national curriculum. This situation contrasts with the Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa, the curriculum for early childhood education developed by the Ministry of Education (1996), which facilitates culturally inclusive content and effective processes in the early childhood education sector.Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa appears to be effective in working towards the inclusion of Māori and Samoan content and processes (Podmore, Tapusoa & Taouma, 2006) in early childhood settings (Mara, 1998; Mitchell, Royal Tangaere, Mara & Wylie, 2006). It is possible, then, that similar practices in the compulsory sector of education could build on Pasifika skills and knowledge. This literature review identified that researchers are careful, however, to point out that Pasifika peoples are diverse, and that even within one Pasifika grouping, learners may exhibit multi-various learning needs. McDowall, Boyd, Hodgen, with van Vliet (2005), for example, warned against the assumption that Pasifika students per se enjoy group work. This view was also noted by Jones (1991) and Tupuola (1998), although Sheets (2005) suggested that group work was good for students from "communal cultures".

What is apparent from an examination of the literature is that the situation is more complex than a mere "use group work to include Pasifika students effectively" approach. For example, both Jones (1991) and Tupuola (1998) noted that the presence of male students in a class can inhibit discussion by female students. Whether or not the ethnicity of the male students was significant to the Pasifika female participants or not, is unclear. For teachers, then, a complex interplay of culture, gender and individual learning styles may impact upon learners' needs and preferences in the classroom.

Sheets' (2005) work with diverse cultural groups in the United States demonstrated her advocacy of the need for teachers to recognise cultural diversity as they seek to scaffold the development of critical thinking skills amongst learners. Sheets argued that these are a vital part of learners' cognitive and social development. She also pointed out that the educational process, not the learners themselves, needs to change to facilitate inclusion and equitable achievement outcomes. This requires educators to be cognisant of unquestioning acceptance or facilitation of notions such as "critical thinking" (Sheets, 2005), or even developmental norms such as "adolescence", which Tupuola (1998) tellingly demonstrated may not necessarily be part of other cultures' traditions.

Sheets warned that the acquisition of critical thinking skills can occur in diverse ways in different cultures. For example, Jones (1991) observed that Pasifika learners in secondary schools had difficulty engaging in reflective discussion with teachers, owing to their culturally-ingrained acceptance of the teacher as source of knowledge rather than facilitator of discussion and debate. Cahill (2006), in her qualitative study with a small group of Samoan parents, examined this "culturally ingrained acceptance" and identified what is essentially a clash in values between Samoan parents and school-based expectations. She stated that:

Samoan society is 'sociocentric'…[meaning] in many non-Western cultures, understandings of the self accentuate the social roles that people play rather than emphasise the feelings, thoughts, and perceptions of the individual (p. 58).

The challenge for Samoan children is that at school, practices and modes of language that are used every day "reproduce…the dominant values of…Westernised culture [as well as] a set of power relations by which the roles and positions attached to the task of learning are constituted for them" (Cahill, 2006, p. 58). Cahill's study demonstrated the potential distance and disconnectedness that can arise between the world of home and that of school, "neither of which provides the skills to allow interpretation of the other" (p. 58).

There is a dearth of similar literature that explores other Pasifika-specific groups and their parental perspectives of home–school partnerships. Despite extensive searching by the authors of this review, relatively few studies by Pasifika authors of non-Samoan backgrounds were unearthed. This is a compelling reason for ensuring that broad generalisations are not made on the basis of conclusions from this review,across Pasifika groups, without further research.

What the literature does suggest, however, is that it is incumbent upon educators to be cognisant of developmental norms such as "adolescence", which Tupuola (1998) tellingly demonstrated may not necessarily be part of other cultures' traditions. In her later research, Tupuola (2004) raised another, perhaps more contemporary, question about developmental norms of Pasifika youth-and this is the way self-identification of Pasifika youth is increasingly global. She described how the growing number of Pacific youth, both in the United States and New Zealand, who are "…emulating Black African American lifestyles, music, and slang…" cannot be ignored, but points out at the same time "…nor can the youth who are using popular culture as a tool to express their own Polynesian or Pasifika music, styles, and fashion" (p. 91).

Consciousness of cultural difference

Generational differences

The responses and behaviours of second or third generation New Zealand-born Pasifika learners may be different from those of students brought up outside New Zealand. Nakhid (2003), Parkhill et al. (2005), Pasikale (1999), and Tupuola (1998, 2004) all cautioned educators about unquestioningly categorising Pasifika learners as a homogeneous group with similar experiences. As Nakhid expressed: "Pasifika students were continually perceived by their teachers as newly arrived immigrants from the Pacific with poor English skills that detracted from their learning. This perception did not find favour with the students, the majority of whom, both in the study and in the schools, were born in NZ" (2003, unnumbered).

A respondent in Tupuola's (1998) research described herself as being very Westernised, "very much brought up the palagi way" (p. 119). In her study, Tupuola located second-or third-generation Samoan students who strongly identified as Samoan, and others who equally strongly identified as New Zealanders. This is a relatively common phenomenon amongst the children of recent immigrants. For instance, Kim (2000) found that "the second generation Korean youth [in the US] do not think of themselves as Korean. They call themselves Korean-American" (p. 7). Lei (2006) identified similar issues with Pacific Islander students in the United States.

Das Gupta (1997) found in her work amongst Indian women born in New York that they called themselves both American and Indian, even though they did not want to travel back to India and/or live there. Educators working for the appropriate inclusion of Pasifika learners, then, need to bear in mind the variety of identities and experiences that learners bring to the educational context. Some issues relating to personal and cultural identities have been alluded to above. The following section will further explore the notion of identities within the context of this literature review.

Section Two: Identities ↔ Identity Development

Sheets (2005) used the singular terminology "identity" in her writing. She noted that

"Identity, knowledge of who we are and what groups we belong to, is a complex, multifaceteddevelopmental process that begins at birth and continues throughout the life span" (p. 50).

The plural "identities" has been deliberately selected for use in this review for two reasons. First, to draw attention to the multiple island nations subsumed within the term "Pasifika" and second, because the term may cause readers to reflect in a more focused way on the expectations placed on students whose parents are immigrants, or second or third generation New Zealanders.

The importance of this distinction between identity and identities was highlighted by a number of authors. For example, Wendt Samu (cited in Jones, 1991, p. 34) observed that only in New Zealand was he called a "Pacific Islander"; elsewhere in the world he is identified as a Samoan. Conversely, the girls Jones interviewed did not find the term "Pacific Islander" problematic, and actually used it to identify themselves. Macpherson (1996, cited in Tupuola, 1998) noted that "This identity is reflected in the ways in which Aotearoa-raised Pacific Islanders refer to themselves as 'Us PI's',…'PI music', 'PI style…", (p. 64). Despite the acceptance by Pasifika peoples of such labels, researchers (Anae, 1998; Manu'atu, 2000; Parkhill et al., 2005; Rata et al., 1998; Samu, 2006b) warn of the need for educators to be aware of the diversity amongst Pasifika peoples and to avoid stereotyping "Pasifika" peoples as a homogeneous group.

The learners in Jones' and Tupuola's research may have self-identified as Pacific Islanders with relative ease. However, for other learners, identifying as a member of a minority ethnic group may be more problematic. For instance, Sheets (2005) argued that some learners seem to go out of their way not to exhibit "cultural displays": 

"observable manifestations of the norms, values, and competencies children learn in their homes and communities that provide valuable insights into who they are, how they act, and what they know" (p. 17),

and sometimes even refuse to acknowledge their ethnic ancestry at all. Gorinski and Shortland-Nuku (2006), reporting on the outcomes of the Te Kauhua project funded by the Ministry of Education, noted a 20 percent increase in students identifying as Māori in one school, when "students recognized that they were valued as Māori" (p. 17).

Issues surrounding the concept of "identity/identities"

The preceding section has discussed identity in terms of "cultural identity", a notion which in itself may be fractured. Kim (cited in Tupuola, 1998, p. 59), commented that:

...A person is commonly viewed to develop and 'belong to' one and only one particular cultural identity… This tendency to see cultural identity in a 'all-or-none' and 'either-or' manner glosses over the fact that many people's identities are not locked into a single, uncompromising category, but incorporate other identities as well.

Kim's point is particularly pertinent in the light of the multiple identities that people of Pasifika ancestry-often the product of intermarriage with non-Pasifika parents or ancestors-may develop. This racial mixture, or even the different behaviours exhibited by Pasifika learners brought up in New Zealand, can lead to challenges from within Pasifika communities that are potentially problematic for learners.

For example, Tupuola's (1998) research reflected on a challenge she faced from Samoan elders who felt it was inappropriate for her, a young woman, to speak of things pertaining to fa'a Samoa. In a similar situation, Tupuola was challenged by Māori women at a conference, who said she had no right to use even the term "New Zealand-born Samoan" since she was not tangata whenua. Having been brought up in New Zealand society, Tupuola was surprised and disconcerted at this challenge. Consequently she developed the term "Niu Sila Samoa" to best describe her identity. These vignettes provide sound examples of why the term "identities" (plural) has been used in this review. Indeed, Tupuola (1998, p. 65) even cited Taule'ale'ausumai's term "cultural schizophrenics" to describe people of Pasifika ancestry born in New Zealand.

Other studies similarly highlighted the issues surrounding the concept of identities, including for example, Anae (1998), Fairbairn-Dunlop & Makisi, (2003), and McPherson, Spoonley & Anae (2001).

Identity development issues

Identities, though, are not merely cultural or ethnic. In Western society there is also an emphasis on developmental identity. The notion of "developing one's own identity" as a developmental stage-for example, Maslow's (1970) "self-actualising person" as the apex of human development-can be, as Tupuola points out, problematic. She claims that the notion of a personal identity is a socio-cultural construct, not a developmental process (Tupuola, 1998). Further, Tupuola claims that "the notion of 'identity achievement' is limiting and somewhat unrealistic because it makes the assumption that this stage, as defined by western theorists, is attainable universally" (1998, p. 59).

For young women of Samoan descent, "the process of ethnic identity….appears to be increasingly fluid in nature and not as progressive and stage-like as implied for ethnic minority groups in the identity models of Atkinson et al. (1983) and Phinney (1989)" (cited in Tupuola 1998, p. 188). Her concern was reiterated by Rata et al. (1998), who stressed the need for teachers to be aware of the multiple identities that Pasifika learners may face and therefore need to reconcile, in order to achieve equitably in the classroom. However, Samu (2006b) argued that teachers need much more than awareness of multiple identities. Rather, teachers need "deep, contextualised understandings" (p. 39) of the diverse realities of their Pasifika students. Such an understanding requires "a closer examination of identity" of Pasifika learners "in relation to the process of teaching and learning" (p. 39).

Rata and her fellow researchers' insistence on teachers' need to develop an awareness of the needs of Pasifika learners was reinforced strongly by Nakhid (2003). She argued that not only schools, but the wider education system need to make space:

for Pasifika students to carry out their identifying process and for them to be able to bring, form, or connect with their own representations of who they wish to be, and for those representations to be as valued as all other representations and identities within educational institutions (2003, unnumbered).

Nakhid further added that such representations and identities must be constructed by Pasifika peoples themselves, and not imposed by the dominant culture. In the context of schools the problem, she argued, lies in the way teachers' perceptions of their Pasifika students frame their response to these learners. Deficit theorising results in perceptions that are based on factors such as low socio-economic status of Pasifika, academic underachievement, and assumptions that many Pasifika students are recent migrants. These factors inform or shape some teachers' perceptions of what constitutes a Pasifika identity, and is the lens through which they "see" their Pasifika students. This is hugely problematic because, as Nakhid's (2002) research showed, Pasifika students in the study had very different perceptions of themselves. Their socio-economic positioning did not play a role in the ways that they identified themselves.

Jesson's (2001) work supported Nakhid's ideas, and suggested that the construction and representation of identities involves a political dimension. She asked, "What is our new ideal citizen? Will every one be an entrepreneur? And how would we achieve this? The answers to these questions are political" (Jesson, 2001, p. 102). Clearly, then, a recognition of the rights of learners to construct their own identities and to see their cultural identities reflected in the education system is necessary, if we are to achieve any semblance of equitable educational achievement. Institutions such as schools have a powerful influence on the "identifying process" that Nakhid discussed. She stated:

The question is not to suggest that schools have the power to permit or discourage such a process as this process takes place irrespective of the school's permission. The school's power lies in the value it gives to this identifying process. This allows not only allowing it to happen, but actually valuing the necessity of the process… (2006, p. 6).

Currently, as Nakhid noted, "Few opportunities are given to Pasifika students to construct their own identities and instead they are resigned to conforming to or rebelling against the identities that have been constructed for them" (2003, unnumbered). Some claim that it is this conformity that leads Pasifika learners to sit passively and docilely in classrooms (Bell, 2000; Johns, 1985; Jones, 1991; White, 1997) or to rebel, leading in some instances to negative labelling as difficult, unco-operative students and their overrepresentation in school exclusion statistics. Indeed, this has been a pattern in past history, with the Ministry of Education (2004) noting that:

Pasifika students, who made up 8% of the total 2003 school population, were over-represented in stand-down and suspension cases, making up 11% of all stand-downs and 10% of all suspensions. [However] the total number of Pasifika suspensions decreased from 519 (9%) in 2002 to 485 in 2003, (8%) (p. 27).

This kind of negative exposure can be a catalyst to young Pasifika learners' internalisation of society's lesser expectations of them. Jones' (1991) young women respondents referred to themselves as "dumb" (p. 149) and stated that palagis "are scholars" (p. 22)-by implication, not like Pacific Islanders. Such attributions were also vocalised by one of the Pākehā learner respondents, who said Pasifika students "have less brains" (p. 149), when asked to explain why there was a differential in achievement between the five Mason (predominantly Pasifika) and five Simmonds (predominantly Pākehā) girls (Jones, 1991). For further information on attribution theory, see for example, Grantz (2006) and the TIP database (2006). An analysis of the literature clearly suggests, then, that the notion of identities requires further investigation, particularly in terms of ensuring equitable treatment of Pasifika learners in classrooms.

Tupuola (2004) introduced and theorised the influence of globalisation on identity formation of Pasifika youth. Using the work of Krebs (1999, cited Tupuola, 2004), Tupuola drew on the concept of edge-walking. This involves the transient and shifting roles of minority youth. Krebs commented that:

…an edge-walker is resilient to cultural shifts and able to maintain continuity wherever he or she goes, walking the edge between...cultures in the same persona (Tupuola, 2004 ,p.90).

Tupuola described edge-walking as being "a healthy process of the post-modern world" (p. 90). In terms of Pacific identities in the context of New Zealand, she briefly reviewed research about Pasifika youth identity development and described a number of diverse interpretations. For example, a genealogical stance, that is Pasifika identity is inherited from parents, ancestors, or socio-cultural constructions (for example "PI", New Zealand-born, Pasifika), some of which signal identity struggles for a sense of belonging in New Zealand. Tupuola interviewed Pasifika youth in New Zealand and in the United States, and found that Pasifika youth are indeed edge-walkers-but the cultural boundaries that they negotiate and contemplate along the way in their identity development include significant global forces and influences.

In addition to the benefits of more equitable educational outcomes for Pasifika learners, the literature posits that recognising and valuing ethnic identity may facilitate a more emotionally healthy and harmonious society (Nakhid, 2003; Rata et al., 1998; Sheets, 2005). Indeed, the research suggested that if more Pasifika learners saw their identities respected, validated, and represented in classrooms they would be less inclined to adopt what Tupuola's research coined the "ultimate identity choice, suicide" (Tupuola, 1998, p. 139). Effective communication is fundamental to the achievement of a more harmonious society, closer links between communities and schools, and the facilitation of more effective classroom environments. As Nakhid stated:

The 'identifying process' is best understood through an analogy of a 'class photo'… No matter how often we look at these pictures, the first person we look for is our self. If we are not there, we notice our absence. It is the same with our experiences of school. We know by looking beyond the superficial displays of culture whether or not we are represented within a school culture (2002, p. 6).

It is incumbent upon teachers then, to work towards an understanding of their role in valuing Pasifika learners' identities. Lei (2006) stressed the need for teachers to critically reflect on their own identity, in terms of their social and economic position within wider society. This, she suggested, could be a useful strategy in better appreciating and supporting the identity development of their Pasifika learners.

Franken et al. (2005) conducted research on bilingual education for Pasifika learners in New Zealand, and focused particularly on the role of language in personal identity formation. They stated:

The way any person uses a language or languages has a relationship with their personal identity and affects how they relate to their peers (p. 48).

In terms of Pasifika children, possible language issues that may impact on identity include peer pressure about speaking, the ability to speak another language in addition to English, or family pressure about the relative value of speaking their indigenous languages. Franken et al. (2005) highlighted the effect such pressures can have on the sense of belonging and identity of young bilingual or recent immigrant Pasifika students.

Conversely, this was not the experience of the participants of a research project that explored the experiences of mature Pasifika women involved in a Pacific-specific teacher education programme. According to Alipia et al. (2005), an important finding was:

They [the students] felt well-supported by Pasifika staff who understood them as persons and as Pasifika learners. Programme staff are bilingual…proficient in Pasifika languages and…same cultural background as the students (2005, p. 13).

This is an example of a learning environment and structure that was proactive in terms of the language diversity of its learners and ensured that this enhanced, and even supported, the sense of belonging and identity of Pasifika students.

Section three: Communication and social interaction ↔ Interpersonal relationships

Sheets' (2005) typology identified two distinct factors that influence the achievement of learners from different ethnic backgrounds to learners of the dominant culture. These included social interaction (mainly restricted to within-classroom interaction) and language. For purposes of this review, we have categorised these two factors under the overarching heading of communication within the context of mainstream/English language. An additional category, however, has been included as Section Four, to emphasise the importance of indigenous languages.

In doing so, we have expanded Sheets' categorisation of social interaction to include a much wider concept of community and parental interaction with schools, as well as the more localised within-classroom interaction described by Sheets. This development of Sheets' categorisations recognises the importance of classroom interactions, but it extends this component further.

This section of the review will consider what the examined literature suggested in terms of mainstream/English cultural and social interactions both within and around Pasifika communities (and by implication, how this may impact on teachers' understandings of Pasifika learners).

Community and parental interaction

The Ministry of Education has already commissioned research into Pasifika community communication, with the Parent Mentoring Initiative (PMI) work and the Pacific Islands School–Parent–Community Liaison (PISCPL) Project, launched by the Ministry in 1996. A literature review associated with the latter (Gorinski & Fraser, 2006) stressed that effective engagement of Pasifika parents and communities relies on "relationships which must be fostered amongst all partners" (Gorinski & Fraser, 2006, p. 1). The PISCPL literature review was developed after a previous major literature review on Pacific Island issues in education (Coxon et al., 2002) identified the lack of literature specific to building home–school–community relationships in Pasifika contexts.

Interactions, expectations, and classroom effects

A number of authors commented on the influence of the Christian church in a variety of Pasifika nations, both in their home countries and more latterly in New Zealand, and the tensions this influence can cause for students (Dickie, 2004; Macpherson et al., 2000; McNaughton, 2002; Parkhill et al., 2005; Tiatia, 1998; Tupuola, 1998). Some literature encouraged teachers to develop an awareness of, and to build upon, the strategies used in Christian church education with Pasifika learners. For example, Parkhill et al.'s (2005) summary of McNaughton's work stated that "McNaughton (2002) has suggested that the recitation of texts by Pasifika children in the church and home environments provides a basis for reinforcement of skills that are fundamental to the decoding of text in classroom instruction" (p. 73).

In contrast, a teacher interviewed by another author dismissively suggested that students "memorise Bible verse for Whit Sunday but they don't understand what they're reading" (McDowall et al., 2005, p. 187). Notwithstanding this latter criticism, McNaughton suggested that the use of texts and processes familiar to students from their church context may well assist them in the acquisition of literacy skills in school.

Tiatia (1998) labelled the church and fa'a Samoa (the economic, historical, and moral order for Samoan life) as "the Siamese twins" (p. 21). She quoted Anae (1995) saying that "the very foundation of Samoan identity is a commitment to fa'aSamoa , which is a portrayal of a unique relationship with God" (p. 5). This relationship between culture and Christianity, historically assumed, has become almost totally intermingled in the lives of Samoan people. The relationship, however, is increasingly coming under scrutiny by New Zealand-born Samoans and youth from other Pacific ethnic groups.

While Tiatia recorded the conflicts experienced by her informants as they live between and across both family and church settings, she added a third context to encapsulate the changes they experienced as they moved into the New Zealand education system. Her work provided insights into the various ways young Pasifika people negotiate their lives between family and church (Mara, 2007).

According to Tiatia, the third context that Samoan young people must negotiate is found in the fusion of family culture and the church and the teaching of unquestioning obedience and respect for traditional structures and authority figures. Respondents in Tiatia's study were aged between 16 and 25 years and were beginning to engage more fully in study, training, and employment. In those contexts, teachers and lecturers encouraged, indeed rewarded, questioning, discussing divergent viewpoints, and self-assertion. This was problematic for many Pasifika learners. To be successful in academic study, there is a need for Pasifika learners to remove her/himself both physically and "in your head" from traditional church, family, and other cultural roles and responsibilities.

The underpinning beliefs and morality of Christian education for Pasifika peoples, then, have the potential to affect what they deem to be appropriate content for classroom instruction, and what is seen to be fitting developmental behaviour. Cahill (2006) stated that 90 percent of Samoans claim affiliation to the Christian religion. Tupuola (1998) commented on the negative reactions of some Pasifika people to the inclusion of, for example, video clips on lesbianism, used in classrooms when investigating the development of sexual identity in adolescents. Indeed, the term itself was deemed to be problematic in Samoan contexts. Further, an example of "fundamentalist" Christian influences in a Fijian high school was presented by White (1997) who described how a student was bullied for not conforming to expected behavioural standards in terms of gender development.

Macpherson et al. (2000, p. 61) described the way that education was inextricably linked with Christianity in earlier times in Samoa. They cited Meleisea (1987) who said, "The pastors and their wives ran schools for both children and adults in villages through the nineteenth century and up until the 1950s most Samoans were educated by village pastors" (pp. 59–60). White (1997) made a similar point with regard to Fijian education. It seems likely, then, that Christian affiliation and education of the parents of many Pasifika learners may be at variance with the content, practices, and thinking current in many New Zealand schools. This incongruity has the potential to hinder feelings of comfort and inclusion by Pasifika learners, who may experience a mismatch between the values and practices of the home environment, and the ways these are, or are not, reinforced in educational contexts.

The research quoted so far in this section has focused on the importance of the church in the lives of Pasifika learners and the tensions they may face in conflicting expectations from church, family, and school. Despite the possible moral and cognitive conflicts suggested in research by Fairbairn-Dunlop (1981), Macpherson et al. (2000), Tupuola (1998), and White (1997),  Jones' (1991) study of Pasifika learners identified their appreciation of school as a place where they could mix freely with their peers and have fun. Respondents in this study explained that cultural expectations meant that outside of school, their time was carefully monitored by parents and wider family, and that they did not experience the same freedom that palagi students had, to socialise outside of school hours. Parental involvement extended to decisions about what occupations the students would enter when they left school, thereby directly guiding their selection of secondary school subjects. To exemplify, Tupuola (1998) interviewed students whose parents expressed wishes about their entering certain jobs.

They said:

I had to get an office job even though I wanted to do drama.

There is never the opportunity for me to do things independently or even to make my own career choices…that's all laid out for me (Tupuola, 1998, pp. 131, 133).

Tupuola's research highlighted the inherent inequity in the frequent assumptions made by schools that learners have choices about their work futures. What is clear is that some Pasifika learners face considerable pressure to enter (or not to enter) certain occupations. The reasons for this constricted choice are often to do with parents' desires for their children to achieve higher employment options than the parents have had.

There is a debate in the literature about the possible causative effects of low socio-economic status on the achievement of Pasifika learners (see, for instance, Bell, 2000; Brown, 1995; Parkhill et al., 2005; Sheets, 2005; Tiatia, 1998). However, the interactive effects of this are equivocal (see Johns, 1985). Closer connections between home and school may help to overcome inappropriate assumptions and help all involved in working with Pasifika learners, to ensure that they achieve to their potential and are not disadvantaged by mismatches of behavioural expectations (Bishop, 2003; McDowall et al., 2005; McMurchy-Pilkington, 2001; Parkhill et al., 2005; Rata et al., 1998). The importance of these relationships was further stressed by Manu'atu and Kepa (2002, p. 8) who noted:

In the fragmented world that the Government agencies and the market economy have produced in school, it is necessary more than ever to pursue approaches to learning and education that promote parents as full participants.

In sum, in terms of Sheets' (2005) framework, it can be argued that personalised interactions are necessary across all the dimensions. The social interaction dimension, however, is explicit about this. It is premised upon teachers' investment of themselves, and a corresponding student response in terms of their perceptions of interpersonal relationships. There needs, however, to be more school-based, in-depth research that explores and analyses Pasifika students and their personalised interactions and relationships with their teachers, particularly in terms of how such relationships affect their academic engagement and success. A focus upon, and respect for, the underpinning beliefs and moral principles of Christian influences on Pasifika learners is also fundamental to successful interactions and partnership building between home and school in Pasifika contexts.

Language and social practice

A further issue that emerged from the studies included in this review was the differential way in which language may be used by learners themselves in their peer communications, and the importance of teachers' understanding of this usage. In Jones' (1991) study she described how the five Simmonds (predominantly Pākehā) learners used language to challenge and argue with each other, thereby establishing separate identities. The five Mason (predominantly Pasifika) learners, however, used language to reinforce and support the opinions put forward by their peers. "Me too", and "same" were words frequently used by the five Mason girls. Jones' interpretation of this phenomenon was that:

The overriding ethic amongst the girls was the maintenance of a feeling of shared beliefs and knowledge, any questioning of which constituted a threat to the unity of the group. Unity was based on shared common-sense. The girls' lack of analysis and rare expression of differences engendered warm, friendly and close-knit groups (which re-organised occasionally over internal jealousies, disputes and changing loyalties) (1991, p. 26).

Teacher use of strategies that require learners to dispute, debate, and critique each other's work or opinions may, if Jones' analysis is correct, work against the communication approaches that at least superficially appear to be more comfortable for some Pasifika learners. White (1997), made the same point, illustrating how teachers, by their setting up of classroom groups to compete with each other, ignored the co-operative preference of Fijian learners.

Sheets (2005) stressed the importance of teachers developing awareness of social interaction in the classroom, and working to facilitate this. She suggested that a useful starting point for teachers may be found in the adept use of seating patterns that may assist ethnically-similar learners, by providing multiple interaction opportunities, thereby facilitating opportunities for enhanced social and academic achievement outcomes amongst these learners. Sheets (2005) warned:

"Teachers who use diversity as a factor when forming academic groups may inadvertently limit rather than advance cross-racial and cross-gender friendships."  It is important, then, that opportunities for learners to self-select their learning groups be retained as an option, to ensure that students are not "boxed" into homogeneous learning experiences. (p 73)

Alton-Lee's (2003) best evidence synthesis listed further examples of how teachers can facilitate the development of effective classroom contexts, for example, the careful use of instructional organisation and task design advocated by Bossert (1979).

Whilst this literature review acknowledges and recognises the complexities of multilingual communication, it is important for educators to remember that "the vast majority of Pasifika people speak English only" (Ministry of Education, 2004, p. 25). The Ministry survey warned, however, that the English language proficiency of Pasifika people is low compared with the ESOL uptake. Schools may therefore need to be careful of assuming (a) that Pasifika learners are necessarily not speakers of English as their first language, but (b) that their proficiency in English if it is their first language, may need consideration. The word "consideration" is carefully chosen, given discussion in the past-largely outside the scope of this review-about "culturally deficient" language (see, for example, Ashton-Warner, 1971; Ferguson, 1991; NZEI, 1967). This was exemplified in Ellis (2005) and May, Hill & Tiakiwai's (2004) research, which stressed the importance of fluency in language, involving both production and understanding/comprehension close to native-speaker fluency. Pasifika learners may need to practise their language skills in order to expand their vocabulary and deepen their understanding and comprehension of texts so that they can engage with them in a critical way.

In order to smooth connections between home and school, however, it is important that both understand each other's language-both verbal and symbolic. It is also vital that the wider educational community recognises, understands, and supports the use of indigenous languages in promoting successful educational experiences for Pasifika learners.

Section four: indigenous and heritage languages ↔ Language learning, language pride

This development of Sheets' categorisations emphasises thevital function of indigenous languages as vehicles for cultural maintenance, transmission, and validation, both within bilingual and immersion classroom contexts, and the wider educational community. Tuafuti & McCaffery (2005, p. 488) argue strongly for the inclusion of bilingual and immersion strategies for the preservation and maintenance of Pasifika languages in New Zealand schooling contexts. They posit that:

…success constitutes being bilingual, bicultural, and being able to move freely and easily in both Pasifika and Palagi (European) language and cultural settings via the adoption of multiple identities.

Language and culture

An important way in which culture can be both preserved and transmitted is via language. This has been effectively demonstrated through the instigation by Māori of kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa Māori, and bilingual secondary schools across New Zealand. Rata et al. (1998, p. 202) stated that "maintaining the heritage language is the key" to cultural transmission.

Taumoefilau, Starks, Bell & Davis (2004) queried whether schools can actually assist in the maintenance of Pacific languages. Their survey in Manukau City showed that the Pasifika communities had contradictory views about this issue. The majority of Samoan parents reported that the family and church should be responsible for language maintenance, whilst the Cook Islands community wanted early childhood centres and schools to teach in Cook Islands Māori, and teach it as a subject in its own right. Clearly there is some diversity of opinion in the literature on this issue.

Sheets (2005), while stressing the importance of language as a tool for maintaining culture, nevertheless described the terror of many new immigrant children when entering school, as they encountered not only very different cultural practices, but also a foreign language. She explained that students learn quickly to "conceal" ethnic behaviours, which may include use of their own language, even when working with peers in the classroom. McDowall et al. (2005), on the other hand, described the advantages for learners of having bilingual teachers who can, when necessary, explain difficult concepts in the learner's own language in order to facilitate comprehension.

This point was also reinforced by Parkhill et al. (2005). Rather than learners having to minimise their cultural affinity with language and different cultural practices, Parkhill et al. cited a Pasifika researcher who posited these things should be valued. They described:

…research by Hunkin-Tuiletufuga (2001), who sets the reason for the high failure rate of Pasifika children firmly in the disparity between the cultural capital of the home and of the school. Hunkin-Tuiletufuga suggests that the linguistic strengths in Pasifika children's homes are not positively valued and utilised in their education after their years in the early childhood sector and that policy-makers have not accepted this challenge. There is a need, Hunkin-Tuiletufuga argues, for more Pasifika-written resources for use in early childhood centres and primary and secondary schools in NZ (2005, p. 64).

The recognition and valuing of the different cultural capital that learners bring to the classroom is a point discussed by several authors (Bishop, 2003; Jones, 1991; Macpherson et al., 2000; McMurchy-Pilkington, 2001; McNaughton, 2002; Nakhid, 2003; Parkhill et al., 2005).

New Zealand schools have progressed considerably from the days when the use of languages other than English was a punishable offence (see, for example, Edwards, 1990, p. 31, where she says "my legs have got welts on them" from being strapped for speaking English at school). It is far more common in schools in New Zealand now to find examples of different Pasifika languages, along with Māori, being used in school signage, or expressed via greetings, waiata, cultural concerts, or in school readers (Bell, 2000; Gorinski & Shortland-Nuku, 2006). While there is some progress in the provision of educational resources in a limited number of languages (e.g. Tupuola, 1998, speaking of Samoan resources) there is criticism by other authors that there is room for much development in this area (McDowall et al., 2005; Parkhill et al., 2005; Sheets, 2005).

One aspect of the literature studied examined the use of language in the acquisition of literacy skills (e.g. Dickie, 2004; Parkhill et al., 2005). This work provided an analysis into how best to facilitate the development of literacy skills for learners whose literacy backgrounds were in languages other than English. Foremost among the suggestions provided was the need to value and build upon, rather than disparage, the literacies and skills these learners had gained in their first language. This approach was well summarised in Dickie (2004):

The new literacy handbook Effective Literacy Practice (Ministry of Education, 2003) has been strongly influenced by the Ministry's drive to improve learning for Pasifika students. This text challenges teachers to move away from associating difference with deficit and suggests that teachers give recognition and value to students' uses and understandings of literacy outside the school. Effective Literacy Practice retains a strong emphasis on assessment and skill while at the same time it stresses the need for teachers to understand the children's cultural backgrounds.  (p. 3)

Benseman (2004) evaluated a community-based approach to literacy that included Pasifika families in Otara and Manurewa. It was based on an adapted version of the Kenan's empowerment Model of Family Literacy. This community-based approach to literacy enhancement involved parents in adult education, and parents and teachers working alongside each other to facilitate children's curriculum-based learning (both early childhood and schooling contexts).

There is some evidence to indicate that learners in low-decile state-integrated schools perform better than those in similar decile state schools. For example, McDowall et al. (2005) found that, in comparison to their counterparts at state schools, learners selected for Reading Recovery at state-integrated schools (at age 6) had higher initial and final mean scores on some of the assessments used to monitor their progress.

These areas of mainstream/English and indigenous language usage provide possibilities for further research that may assist schools to better help their Pasifika learners, especially given the fluid nature both of languages and learner identities. The language that educators use, and the possible mismatches between this language and learners' home language experiences, can affect both classroom interactions and teacher pedagogical practice. The following section of this review explores a range of pedagogical dimensions of Pasifika learners' experiences.

Section five: Co-constructed classroom contexts ↔ The inquiring confident engaged learner

Alton-Lee (2003), citing Carr, McGee, Jones, McKinley, Bell, Barr & Simpson (2000), identified a "policy vacuum around pedagogy" (p. 9). Subsequent work commissioned by the Ministry was intended to inform both government policy development as well as educational practice. The Te Kauhua and Te Kōtahitanga initiatives (for Māori learners predominantly), the PSCPL project (for Pasifika learners), and the PMI work (for all groups-see Gorinski, 2005a, b and Mara,1998, for reports on the latter two) are examples of such work. The literature suggests that such initiatives have the potential to facilitate co-constructed school and classroom practices.

Co-constructed classroom contexts involve schools, parents, and communities working effectively together to provide an education that best supports the strengths, needs, and aspirations of learners. Key to this success, according to the literature, is the ability to value (and to be seen to value) the cultural backgrounds of learners (Alton-Lee, 2003). Fletcher et al. (2005) stressed that in addition to learners' success in the educational system, the maintenance of their cultural identity was also crucial. To achieve this, they should not need, as Sheets (2005) described, to "conceal" their own cultural behaviours. Rather, they should be able to exhibit these appropriately, and see them valued in the school context-to "see themselves" reflected in both the curriculum and the school culture (Nakhid, 2003, unnumbered).

As Nakhid (2003) said, "we can't 'be' if we can't 'see ourselves'"-a perspective reinforced by Bishop (2003). Bishop and his colleagues used "collaborative storying" and student narratives in their research exploring the achievement of Māori learners. They commented:

In their narratives the students clearly identified the main influences on their educational achievement and told us how teachers, in changing how they related and interacted with Māori students in their classrooms, could create a context for learning wherein these students' educational achievement could improve (Ministry of Education, 2005, Executive Summary).

As Macpherson et al. (2000) pointed out, if learners can see themselves reflected in school activities and practices, they are more likely to think that the education system has advantages for them. Where this is not the case, they are more likely to drop out of the system. If this kind of inclusional change is not made, schools will continue to be places of "containment" not "attainment" (Nakhid, 2003, unnumbered).

Parkhill et al. (2005) presented a positive example of inclusion in practice. They noted in their description of schools that had a strong Pasifika emphasis, that these schools incorporated Pasifika language, music, and dance in a variety of ways. Similar positive outcomes were noted for Māori by Gorinski and Shortland-Nuku (2006) in respect of the outcomes of the Te Kauhua project. Sheets (2005) also provided examples of how the incorporation of different ethnic groups' practices and behaviours into American classrooms facilitated what she called "culturally safe classrooms".

There is a need, though, to move beyond the superficial "spaghetti eating and basket weaving" approach to culturally-inclusive classrooms (Hirsh & Scott, 1988), to a deeper co-creation of the curriculum (Bishop, 2003; Fletcher et al., 2005; Parkhill et al., 2005). Indeed, Smith (2000) asked:

"Is the family to be seen as an educational agency in its own right or only as an agency which can be shown how to help the school? In sum, the autonomous literacy of the school and the ideological literacy of (the family and their local community), should be complementary to each other."(p.4)

Potential problems

The co-construction of learning contexts is not an easily achieved ideal. As McDowall et al. (2005) suggested, while parents want to help their children and the schools they attend, they sometimes simply don't know how to do so. Further, there are often cultural constraints that lead Pasifika parents to view teachers as the source of knowledge. As such, they encourage their children to "sit and listen to the teacher" (Cahill, 2006; Jones, 1991; Macpherson et al., 2000; Sheets, 2005), rather than fostering an inquiry-mindedness amongst them.

In the same way, Nechyba, McEwan & Older-Aguilar (1999) suggested that the culture of some Pasifika parents in New Zealand may prevent them from becoming involved in schools and/or challenging teachers. In such cases, the parents' "respect for teachers and deference to the authority of professional educators" (p. 11) precludes their involvement in dialogue or debate around educational issues.

An interesting example of why parents might not engage with schools was provided by Nakhid (2003). This study used mediated dialogue between learners and teachers to investigate perceptions of Pasifika learners and their parents within school contexts. Admittedly, Nakhid's sample was small, and the five teachers were all drawn from the mathematics area. However, one of these teachers said:

I find the majority of my parents don't care. So the only one that is influencing them is me.

After hearing the teachers' comments regarding their parents, the learners became very defensive and protective of their parents, perhaps because they realised that they were partly responsible for not bringing their parents "into the picture as far as their schooling was concerned" (Nakhid, 2003, unnumbered).

Irrespective of culture, there are many reasons why learners fail to encourage their parents to come to school. Nakhid's research implied that in a Pasifika context, some learners evidence a concern about their parents "losing face" if their children are underachieving. Sheets (2005) suggested that this "loss of face" could be linked with a fear of disrespect by the school system, or by teachers, towards their parents if learners failed. Irrespective of the reasons, it is impossible to co-construct curricula without equitable input from families, schools, and communities. Teachers also play a critical role in the co-construction process.

The teacher's role

Rata et al. (1998) stressed the importance of the teacher's role in helping learners to recognise and value diversity, in order to overcome the marginalisation and disadvantaging that minority groups have faced in the past. Similarly, Carpenter (2001, p. 131) stated, "Curriculum must always be open to scrutiny. While it can reproduce inequalities, it can also produce a better and fairer society. Teachers are integral to both the reproduction and production of knowledge… Curriculum is powerful, but only as powerful as teacher agency allows."

Jesson (2001), however, conceived teachers' agency in a rather more limited sense. Exploring the managerialism that dominated New Zealand education in the 1990s, Jesson stated:

Managerialism also changed the position of teachers in the state. Teachers were no longer considered to be professionals with special standing. Teachers were now just employees of individual schools…. The teacher's role was limited to operational or implementation matters (p. 99).

The extent to which a teacher on his/her own can co-construct curricula with learners, their parents and communities is questionable, although Sheets (2005) gives some sound instructions to teachers on how this might be achieved in the classroom. Within the New Zealand context, there are attempts (particularly by Māori) to co-construct curricula. One example is the promotion of kaupapa Māori in educational contexts:

Kaupapa Māori can be described as critical theory at a localised level. It is an emancipatory resistance movement controlled by Māori for Māori. Kaupapa Māori counters some of the hegemonic beliefs and practices in the education of Māori by placing Māori language and knowledge at the curriculum centre rather than on the periphery. According to Bishop and Glynn (1999, p. 65) it is 'a means of proactively promoting a Māori worldview as legitimate' (McMurchy-Pilkington, 2001, p. 173).

This approach has also been effectively advocated in tertiary research contexts (see, for instance, Bishop, 1994; Pihama, Cram & Walker, 2002; Royal, 1999; Smith, 2000).

McMurchy-Pilkington (2001) speculated optimistically on the potential of this approach to make space for co-constructed curricula. She said, "Māori have some hope that in the future Māori knowledge will be validated in the official discourse of the state; in particular there is a hope that national curriculum statements might reflect a Māori worldview" (p. 169). If this can work efficaciously for Māori, the hope is that it may also be effective for Pasifika knowledge and worldviews. Such inclusion and co-construction can militate against schools being the "risky places" that Parkhill et al. (2005), citing McNaughton suggested, or places where Māori and Pasifika learners are made to "feel bad" (Johns, 1985, p. 110).

Section six: Culturally responsive pedagogical practice and content ↔ Knowledge acquisition

Irrespective of the success of the education system in encouraging co-construction in classroom contexts, there is a lot that can be done through standard classroom activity to develop more culturally responsive pedagogical processes (Biddulph & Osborne, 1984; Dalzell, 1986; Podmore & Sauvao, with Mapa 2003). For instance, the curricula taught, the encouragement of closer home–school–community interactions, the professional learning of teachers, and the fostering of more enlightened attitudes in society generally (with less gate-keeping of the kind that ensures that Pasifika peoples stay marginalised or are denied equitable access to higher-status occupations), are all initiatives that have the potential to contribute to more culturally responsive pedagogical practices. Before exploring these culturally responsive pedagogical practices more fully, a brief overview of some of the socio-cultural research that can inform these practices is presented.

Socio-cultural approaches to learning are influenced by the work of Vygotsky (1978). He argued that children learn best when parents and teachers create learning experiences that use what children already know as resources for learning new knowledge and practices. In terms of diversity, socio-cultural approaches recognise that children come from different home, community, and economic backgrounds where they learn and acquire different funds of knowledge (Velez-Iabanez & Greenberg, 1992). Funds of knowledge are "…the various social and linguistic practices and the historically accumulated bodies of knowledge that are essential to students' homes and communities" (McIntyre, Roseberry & Gonzalez, 2001, pp. 2–3).

Funds of knowledge are not always treated equally in schools. In the 1960s and early 1970s, researchers in the United States found that the curricula in schools seemed to build almost exclusively on the funds of knowledge of middle-class white students. Research studies in the New Zealand context involving Pasifika and Māori learners in mainstream secondary classrooms presented similar findings (Bishop, 2003; Hill & Hawk, 2000; Jones, 1991).

According to McIntyre et al. (2001), having a broader or "enlarged" socio-cultural perspective enables teachers and educators to understand the fluid and dynamic nature of students' experiences and the varied cultural practices in which they participate. This requires teachers and educators to engage with the broader social, political, and economic conditions that influence students' lives in and out of school. In other words, understanding the cultural capital of students is vital and considered an integral part of curriculum and pedagogical planning. There is strong research-based evidence that this accounts for successful Samoan bilingual and immersion early childhood centres, for example: Aoga Fa'aSamoa, Richmond Road (Podmore et al., 2006; Podmore, with Samu, & the Aoga Fa'aSamoa, 2006), and primary schools such as Finlayson Park School and its O le Ta'iala Samoan bilingual unit (Aukuso, 2005; Tuafuti & McCaffery, 2005).

Samu & Siteine (2006) described and discussed a small-scale curriculum project locating Pasifika knowledge and expertise in the social studies curriculum. They developed a tool with which to examine how Pasifika content is presented in primary and secondary curricula materials. Their work focused on two perspectives-the "small island perspective" and the "oceanic perspective". New Zealand social studies programmes that do not engage in more critical inquiries of other perspectives besides "small island" perspectives, are likely to lead to a narrow, uncritical, and perhaps misinformed understandings about Pacific nations and Pasifika peoples. Moreover, a small island perspective serves to render Oceanic perspectives of Pasifika knowledge, culture, and understandings invisible. Jacoby (1975) described this process of invisibility as social amnesia: "a forgetting and repression of the human and social activity that makes and can remake society" (p. 5). Simon (1992) argued that social studies in the New Zealand curriculum has served this purpose:

Social studies in New Zealand schools functions as a vehicle for the transmission of dominant class Pākehā values, not just because of the design of the syllabus and the scope it provides for teachers to bring their own values and prejudices to bear in the selection and development of their programmes, but, more significantly, because these features together support the cultivating of social amnesia (p. 269).

Another danger is the ease with which social studies programmes can degenerate into what Jones and Derman-Sparks (1992) termed a "tourist" approach, which amounts to "touring" students around the food, dress, and music of ethnic groups (see also Hirsh & Scott, 1988). A "tourist" approach may serve to perpetuate the stereotypes, misrepresent the cultural realities, and undermine a sense of belonging and identity (Ellington, 1998; Ladson-Billings, 1992). Social studies programmes that are developed from a small island nation perspective are likely to encourage a tourist approach to the Pacific and maximise the chances of social amnesia. Both outcomes can be seen to contribute to the unintended belittling of Pasifika peoples explored by Hau'ofa (1993) and others (Kabutaulaka, 1993; Nunn, 1993; Thaman, 1993).

Little has been said thus far in this review about the importance of professional development in addressing identified Pasifika learner needs. Professional learning, however, is a critical issue for teachers whose behaviours and expectations have such a profound impact on learners (Alton-Lee, 2003; Hirsh, 1990; Jones, 1999; McDowall et al., 2005; Nakhid, 2003; Sheets, 2005). As the Te Kōtahitanga project revealed:

This study has shown that the key to improving Māori students' achievement is professional development that places teachers in non-confrontational situations where, by means of authentic yet vicarious experiences, they can critically reflect upon their own theorising and the impact such theorising has upon Māori students' educational achievement. In addition, the professional development must provide situations where teachers are shown and are able to practice in an on-going supportive manner, strategies that will change classroom interactions (Ministry of Education, 2005, p. 1).

Few teachers have been exposed to the wide range of cultural groups they now face in the classroom (Sheets, 2005), although for some time aspects of Māori and Pasifika cultures have been included in some papers taught in colleges of education and universities, as browsing on many universities' and college websites reveals. Nevertheless, sound professional development can strengthen and enhance the knowledge teachers already hold. Parkhill et al. (2005, p. 64), citing the work of other researchers, claimed that:

effective programmes for children in their first year of schooling built on children's diversity and sought to lessen mismatches between home and school settings. This was achieved by effective and intensive professional development of teachers within these schools.

In their theorisation of the Te Kauhua project, Gorinski and Shortland-Nuku (2006, p. 11) identified the benefits of:

culturally responsive professional development (McAllister & Irvine, 2000) that focused upon challenging teachers' epistemological positionings, and raising their cultural competencies and understandings of Māori students. This was a key to teachers understanding, valuing and scaffolding the different cultural capital (Bishop & Glynn, 1999) that Māori students bring to the teaching and learning context.

The benefits of professional learning as a sound way forward were also stressed by Sheets (2005). She said:

"I believe that effective teacher preparation helps teacher candidates explore the ways successful teachers recognize, interpret, and respond to children's cultural displays of competency resulting from their socialization process." (p. xxiii) Once assisted by appropriate professional learning, there is a need for teachers to practise culturally responsive pedagogies. The literature examined for purposes of this review identified a wide variety of strategies to aid teachers and administrators in this pursuit. For example, teachers learn when they self-critique their role in the learning experiences of students, rather than blaming the learner. (Sheets, 2005) 

As indicated already in this review, many teachers value and incorporate learners' diverse backgrounds in their teaching programmes. An example of this was found in the Curriculum Innovation project (Boyd et al. 2005) Closing the Equity Gaps in Science. This project involved a partnership between Tamaki College and the University of Auckland (the Tamaki roll in 2003/2004 was approximately two-thirds Pasifika, one-quarter Māori, 3 percent NZ European, and 7 percent other). A key issue that this partnership sought to address was a concern about decile 1 school learners' access to, and participation in, tertiary science courses. In particular, Māori and Pasifika students from low-decile schools were seen as being seriously under-represented in, or completely absent from, the first year student cohort of tertiary science courses.

The project aimed to identify ways to increase learners' personal connection to science. Learners described how some of their science teachers used real-world examples of the science that linked to their backgrounds. They said, for example:

[The teacher] always connects stuff, to Polynesian things. It's the best way to remember things. Like for genetics, the teacher will always use, like talk about, our characteristics and stuff. It makes it easier to understand when you're learning about yourself. We can laugh about it (Boyd et al., 2005, p. 230).

Teachers who exhibit culturally responsive pedagogical practices help learners with study skills, so that ineffective repetition practices that learners believed would "knock the knowledge in", are replaced by more effective study methods (Bell, 2000; Jones, 1999). In the process, they are cautious about the language and attitudes they use, bearing in mind the possibly subconscious denigration of ability that Manu'atu & Kepa (2002) drew attention to when explaining the negative aspects of the term "study clinic" for Tongan learners and their parents. Many teachers adjust their own understandings to include learners' narratives, rather than expecting always that the learners will adjust theirs (Bishop, 2003).

Such teachers practise sensitively, looking at how they position learners physically in the classroom context, having consideration for cultural norms and individual differences, for example, Dickie's (2004, p. 6) example of a Pasifika student having difficulty expressing herself in front of male students. They concentrate on developing higher-order thinking and expression of the kind expected in assessments with all learners, not "dumbing down" their questions or expectations for minority group students (Sheets, 2005). These teachers are careful about privileging certain kinds of thinking processes over others. For example, Sheets (2005) described the tendency of Western teachers to promote convergent over divergent thinking processes, to the detriment of some cultural groups' historically conceived ways of thinking.

Teachers who evidence an understanding of culture as an integral part of students' learning also try to ensure that the knowledge and practices of Pasifika peoples are appropriately incorporated into the curriculum (Podmore et al., 2003). They recognise that culturally inclusive classrooms do not sacrifice high achievement, but rather encourage it in minority group learners (Gorinski & Shortland-Nuku, 2006; Sheets, 2005). Within the constraints available-both practical and financial-they strive to provide culturally appropriate resources (Parkhill et al., 2005; Tupuola, 1998). They also strive to avoid superficiality in their inclusive processes (Hirsh, 1990). These teachers draw on sound examples of how curricula and classroom processes can operate effectively (e.g., the Te Wh āriki early childhood curriculum example provided in Carpenter, 2001). If it is an option, they use learners' own language at times to assist in the educative process (McDowall et al., 2005). There are then multi-various culturally responsive pedagogical practices that teachers can implement in their daily practice to support Pasifika learner success.

Mentoring is one such practice that appears to facilitate positive outcomes for Pasifika learners.Anae et al. (2002) reported on the success of the MALAGA initiative for Pasifika learners in the tertiary sector. In this initiative, the University of Auckland established a mentoring stream for Pasifika learners. The mentors were young, dynamic university graduates who worked with 15–20 students accompanying them throughout all the activities associated with the MALAGA programme. The researchers described a tuakana–teina relationship that encouraged the undergraduates to remain at university and successfully complete their studies.

The pedagogical practices that educators use can affect not only classroom interactions but also students' chances of success in educational assessment. The following section of this review explores and critiques the assessment practices of schools and the ways these impact on Pasifika learners.

Section seven: Assessment and evaluation ↔ Reflective and self-evaluating

The best efforts of educators to build on researchers' endeavours to improve education and work options for Pasifika learners can be thwarted by inappropriate, unfair, or excessive assessment and evaluation processes. For purposes of this review, Sheets' (2005) framework for assessment has been extended in order to incorporate wider processes of assessment such as the evaluation of learners' aspirations and expectations by teachers and schools, and the purposes for which New Zealand society uses assessments.

Inevitably, the assessment process is political (as is the curriculum process in general-see Carpenter, 2001). As Sheets (2005) commented, "one cannot assume that the appropriate selection of testing instruments or the modification of assessment tools translates to students' having equitable opportunities to achieve" (p. 167). A poignant New Zealand historical example of this was the misuse of scaling in School Certificate, ostensibly to ensure that marking was "fair". This in fact led to vast disparities in the valuing of languages such as Māori and Latin, and to the detriment of te reo Māori in particular. As was noted in the Report of the Waitangi Tribunal on the Te Reo Māori Claim (Waitangi Tribunal, 1986, item 6.1.3):

In other words, out of every 100 children sitting Māori in School Certificate, 62 had to fail. The consequences for these children in loss of self-esteem and loss of self-respect was not disclosed to us, but it needs little imagination to guess at the reaction of themselves and their families (see also Codd, Harker, & Nash, 1985; Pearson, 1990).

Similar problems have occurred in Pasifika schools. White (1997, p. 204) cited the Fiji Education Commission of 1969, saying:

It is clear that the examinations place emphasis on the acquisition and reproduction of knowledge. By their incidence and nature they have a generally discouraging and deadening effect in that they limit the range and type of curricula and techniques of learning in the schools, without making the teachers confident in the examinations' effectiveness as measures of children's qualities.

Assessment in schools most commonly involves a process whereby content learned is evaluated to determine how well learners have processed and retained knowledge, and how they rank compared with each other (prior to the introduction of competency-based assessment). This process frequently begins at Year 7 level, when learners' knowledge retention is assessed to determine class placement. Carpenter described how streaming-the process of making an assessment of learners to allocate class placement-leads to different curricular options, which in themselves limit learners' ongoing life choices. Carpenter (2001, p. 115-see also Cahill, 2006) noted that:

Selection, assessment and organisation of curricula reflect subject stratification, while the perceived 'ability' of children influences the selection of knowledge that is made available to them. Students in lower-streamed classes are generally offered a 'different' curriculum to those in higher-streamed classes, and for the former, work is more likely to be practical in nature.

Macpherson et al. (2000) argued that Samoan parents do not discern this kind of differential working against their children, and thus find difficulty in understanding the incongruity of educational access not equalling good educational achievement outcomes for their children. As Macpherson et al., (2000, p. 74) summarised, the assessment of Samoan learners previously involved the disparagement of their cultural capital. They said:

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s there is little doubt that many Samoan children were alienated by their experiences in a system that did not value their knowledge and language skills, and whose gatekeepers held low expectations of their achieving educational success. Many left school early, with minimal or no formal qualifications.

Assessment practices, then, can either help or hinder learner progress. The literature suggests that assessment systems that support Pasifika learners are those that are based on formative and internal assessment. A number of studies discussed how these systems are more beneficial for learners than summative assessments based on exams or tests, as is illustrated in the following examples.

One example is the assessment system used to monitor learners' progress in Reading Recovery. This system is both formative and diagnostic. McDowall et al. (2005), for instance, noted in regards to the monitoring of learners' progress in Reading Recovery, that Reading Recovery teachers considered this system supported them to tailor their instruction to learner needs, thereby benefiting a diverse group of learners.The features of the Reading Recovery programme that teachers and tutors considered most important for supporting the progress of Māori and Pasifika learners related to the one-to-one nature of Reading Recovery. This enabled teachers to:

  • build close relationships with learners;
  • provide a safe learning environment in which learners were not at risk of feeling shamed in front of their peers;
  • learn about the diversity of learners' out-of-school experiences;
  • cater for these experiences through text selection, and story writing topics;
  • negotiate the meanings and vocabulary in texts based on experiences foreign to students; and
  • model oral language structures and engage learners in the use of these language structures in authentic and meaningful contexts (McDowall et al., 2005, p. xvii).

Biddulph (1993), in a comparison of learners' reading progress following intervention that supported parents to work more effectively with their children, described similarly effective gains in reading achievement, although Alton-Lee (2003, p. 41) noted that "in contrast with Reading Recovery, the reading gains [described by Biddulph] were sustained over time". The implication here is that the Reading Recovery gains that McDowall et al. described were not permanent. Citing six different examples of research reports that supported her assertion that assessment practices can be improved to facilitate student success, Alton-Lee added that:

the gathering and analysis of high-quality student achievement data and the use of externally referenced benchmarks have been found to be powerful tools in bringing about changes in teacher practice that facilitate higher achievement for students (2003, p. 19).

Secondary school: internal assessment

Studies have shown positive reactions by teachers concerning the potential of internal assessment systems, and in particular unit standards, to support learners in low-decile schools. In Hawk and Hill's (1996) examination of achievement in eight low-decile secondary schools as part of the AIMHIproject, they described how the structure of School Certificate and Bursary examinations, with their emphasis on one assessment at the end of the year, disadvantaged Māori and Pasifica learners by not enabling their full range of skills to be recognised. Teachers in the AIMHI study were positive about the potential of the unit standard model to deliver a fairer qualification framework for learners (Hawk & Hill, 1996).

Teachers and students in the Innovative Pathways study (Boyd, McDowall, & Cooper, 2002) also outlined the drawbacks of a formal examination system, and were positive about their experiences with unit standards. Prior to 2002 most of the learners in this study had low or no qualifications, and many had negative perceptions of their achievement at school. At the end of 2002 many of the learners reported feeling more academically confident and motivated by school than they had been at the start of 2002 (Boyd, with McDowall & Ferral, 2006).One of the reasons for this growth in learners' confidence about their achievement was the success they experienced as they passed unit standards. Teachers and learners described how passing credits gave learners successes early on in their courses, and this appeared to give them confidence and motivation to pursue further study. Many of the learners identified a preference for internal and ongoing assessment, and the opportunities this provided for them to re-sit assessments, in contrast to the "high pressure" examination environment they had experienced in the past.

A preference for internal assessments was also noted in other studies that examined the new qualifications framework. For example, many of the senior students in the Learning Curvesstudy on the evolving National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) qualifications regime (Hipkins, Vaughan, with Beals, Ferral & Gardiner, 2005) and a New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) study on learner views about the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) (NZQA, 2006) expressed a preference for internal assessments. These were consistently perceived as an easier assessment option, which provided opportunities for re-sitting assessments, whilst simultaneously removing the pressure of examinations.

Assessment practices, then, have the potential to scaffold positive achievement outcomes for Pasifika learners, as illustrated in Alton-Lee's (2003) research. The challenge lies in realising this potential. The literature suggested that most teachers are able to accurately assess the learning of students from different cultural groups (Sheets, 2005) and specifically Pasifika learners (Parkhill et al., 2005). As Parkhill et al. (2005, p. 69) noted, "overall, the teachers' assessments of the Pasifika children's reading and writing levels were accurate".

There was, however, some evidence in the literature of teacher inaccuracy in assessment procedures (Milward et al., 2001; Parkhill et al., cited in Timperley, Phillips & Wiseman, 2003). McDowall et al. (2005, p. xvii) indicated that in the Reading Recovery programme, for example, Pasifika learners were more likely to be referred on for another intervention after fewer lessons than other learners. This was identified by the authors as an issue that needed "fine-tuning". It also suggests that there may be broad scope for teacher professional development in the area of attitudes and beliefs around diverse learner expectations and abilities.

Biased assessments and attitudes

Jones (1991) posited that while some schools reward the independent pursuit of knowledge, this can be problematic for some Pacific learners (see also Brown, 1995), and also contrary to the learning processes that the schools themselves reinforce in learners (McDowall et al., 2005; Nakhid, 2003). Further, Jones argued that Pacific Island learners' knowledge is not rewarded in the assessment processes of schools. She said in respect of this:

The teachers genuinely cared about their students and sought the best outcomes for them within the structural limitations of both the forms of assessment, and the available forms of employment which confronted the girls. And yet, the teachers' beliefs and practices, themselves structured within the cultural traditions of schooling and teacher education, helped ensure that the girls' understanding of their world, both in terms of their skilled knowledge of it-taught and legitimated by the school-and in terms of their knowledge of their own abilities and social positioning, remained constrained. How could the girls protest about the outcomes of their schooling or their uninviting employment prospects when they are part of the expected, natural order of things? (Jones, 1991, p. 173).

Biased expectations of future employment options cannot help but militate against high self-expectations of learners. Sheets (2005, p. 170) explained how "tests are unfair and culturally biased" processes that lead to deficit-based arguments that claim "low-performing students are poor, unmotivated, unskilled, have parents that do not care, do not have books in the home, come from single-parent households, are linguistically deficient, and watch too much television". The language of examination questions in themselves can be confusing, and draw on higher-order terminology than is commonly used in classrooms. This can result in learners failing to answer questions correctly even though they may in fact know the correct responses (Sheets, 2005).

This particular problem is so widespread that resources have been developed in New Zealand specifically to help Pasifika and other students adapt (Lewis & Parkinson, 1981). There are multiple pieces of research that cite the underachievement of Pasifika learners in New Zealand's School Certificate, University Entrance, Bursary, or more latterly, the NCEA examinations (e.g. Jones, 1991; Ministry of Education, 2004; Nakhid, 2003). Given this situation, the dismay faced by Pasifika parents such as those cited in Macpherson et al. (2000) is not surprising. Quite clearly, a number of facets of the assessment and evaluation procedures in the New Zealand education system fail to allocate appropriate value to Pasifika learners' cultural capital; they are disparaging of Pasifika peoples' linguistic abilities and knowledge; they evidence lower expectations for educational and occupational success; and they use unfamiliar terminology in tests that could facilitate access to ongoing education and enhanced occupational status. There is ample opportunity, therefore, for improved practices in respect to Pasifika learner success in school contexts.

The research examined does, however, highlight the benefits of standards-based assessment practices for Pasifika and Māori learners, among others. Not only are more Pasifika learners gaining University Entrance qualifications, but further, NCEA is facilitating greater flexibility for schools to tailor their qualifications to learners' needs.

Whilst the Sheets' framework for this analysis has provided a sound structure for organising the literature, a number of gaps were identified in the literature studied. These are discussed in the following section.

Section eight: Gaps in the literature

Two key gaps were identifiable in the literature that explored the experiences of Pasifika learners in the classroom. These included gender, and the notion of Pasifika self-theorising. Both of these are discussed in the following.


The studies examined in this review sought to investigate-where possible from learners' own perspectives-what factors might enhance or inhibit Pasifika learner achievement in schools. There is a significant gap in the research located, in terms of reports that specifically focus on issues for Pasifika males-the boys and young men in our schools. While some co-educational research (for example, Brown, 1995; Johns, 1985) has been done involving mixed gender groups, analysis by gender is not always available, although White (1997) provided some valuable interview data drawn from her Fijian participant research. This kind of research would be particularly valuable if Lashlie's (2005) work on how boys think and behave proved to have validity also with Pacific young men.

Most in-depth case studies – for example, those of Bell (2000), Jones (1999), and Tupuola (1998) – have been conducted in girls' schools, or with all-female respondents. Undoubtedly there are good reasons for this, although these were not articulated in the research. Concomitant with Dickie's (2004) observation that some Pasifika girls feel inhibited in discussing issues in front of boys (see also Imo, 1996, cited in Alton-Lee, 2003; White, 1997), mixed gender groups may not have been an option for some of the research studies. There may be demands on male researchers, Pasifika or otherwise, to do thesis work in areas other than student achievement. Whatever the reason, the voices of Pasifika males are decidedly "silent" in comparison with those of Pasifika females. Both the male voices, and the reasons for their relative silence, are issues for further research, particularly given the data that suggest that Pasifika males do not do as well overall in education as Pasifika females (Anae et al., 2002).

It is important that future research does not inappropriately generalise female perspectives on the issues for Pasifika learners across to male learners. This is particularly pertinent in light of the observation that Pasifika males outnumber Pasifika females in the school system generally, and across all Pasifika groups specifically (Ministry of Education, 2004).

Concomitant with the observation that there is a dearth of research investigating the perspectives of Pasifika males, there is also a need for further investigation of the possible effects of cross-gender interaction in mixed gender classrooms, and for which (if any) Pasifika groups these effects may be active. This review has cited a range of research that demonstrates the unease of some learners in expressing themselves in the presence of the other gender (e.g. Jones, 1991; White, 1997). This is an area in which further research could be of assistance in facilitating student educational achievement.

Pasifika self-theorising

In the literature examined, there are notable examples of self-theorising from appropriate cultural perspectives by a variety of Pasifika scholars, for example Manu'atu (Tonga) and Tupuola (Samoa). Their work authorises different conceptions of cultural behaviour that work against the normative deficit theorising that has tended to characterise particularly (but not exclusively) some non-Pasifika researchers' work in the past. Similarly, Efi (2005), Helu-Thaman (1996), and Koloto (2003) discuss Pasifika paradigms and theoretical models of learning, teaching, and research that impact upon Pasifika self-theorising. In support of the suggestion that deficit theorising is not an exclusively non-Pasifika characteristic, White (1997), with reference to Fijian academics, described how some of them have internalised and continued deficit theorising with regard to Fijian young people's underachievement-a situation that will surprise no-one familiar with Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972).

It would seem timely, then, for some of the indigenous educational and cultural theorising being conducted by Pasifika scholars and educators to be included in both pre- and in-service teacher education programmes that address the issues around the increasing Pasifika learner population. The literature examined for this review did not reveal examples of this being done, or of theorising being disseminated through in-service professional learning networks. It does appear, however, to be permeating teacher professional development as far as Māori theorising is concerned (Airini, 1998; Bishop, 2003; Bishop & Glynn, 2000).

Having identified a number of gaps in the literature, the study, in the following section, highlights some cautions for educators as they work with the literature to examine and modify their practice.

Section nine: Cautions for educators

Educators are encouraged to analyse the literature on Pasifika teaching and learning, and reflect on its application and relevance to their practice. Generalised assumptions and/or deficit thinking held by some educators can work against Pasifika learners' achievement Consequently, the following cautions should be borne in mind:

  • In order to meet individual learning needs, teachers need to know how to co-construct the curriculum and their classroom practices. In doing so, they need to involve stakeholders in these processes and in the assessment of their practices in a cycle of continuous reflection.
  • Educators need to be aware of stereotypical patterns of thinking and behaviour relating to Pasifika learners, given their personal, indigenous, and generational diversity.
  • In many cases, behaviour is situation-specific and influenced by social norms.
  • Pasifika learners navigate and transition between different worlds-some more successfully than others. Because the school system operates predominantly on Western values and norms, there are competing demands on bicultural learners that may impact upon their achievement in negative ways (Cahill, 2006).

School environments mirror the wider society, in which stratification of attitudes towards socio-economic and linguistic differences may occur almost unintentionally, although still remaining influential. Where learners feel powerless, this may be manifested as compliance, silence, or conformity (Jones, 1999), frequently resulting in disengagement from the curriculum.

In spite of these cautions, educators need not feel overwhelmed. The literature review and an associated exploratory study are linked by the use of 'Diversity Pedagogy' typology and the Pasifika Adaptation (2007) of Sheets' (2005) typology. This provided a framework for educators to reflect and respond positively to diverse classrooms, and in particular, to Pasifika students in their schools and classrooms. Further, the exploratory study provided examples of good practice that schools and teachers have developed for themselves. These examples could provide sound models for other teachers to discuss, reflect on and trial.

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