Pūao-te-Ata-tū and dissenting voices of change at New Zealand’s oldest school of social work


  • Tamati Cairns Ngai Tuhoe
  • Leon Fulcher The International Child and Youth Care Network @ www.cyc-net.org




Bi-cultural Social Work, Ethnocentric Practices, Cultural Racism, Institutional Racism, pūao-te-Ata-tū


INTRODUCTION: The Ministerial Advisory Committee Report on a Māori Perspective for the New Zealand Department of Social Welfare (1986) offers an historic reference point from which to examine education and training reforms initiated at Aotearoa New Zealand’s oldest school of social work and designed to better address the needs and aspirations of Māori and those working with Māori. Pūao-te-Ata-tū is an internationally unique example of social research facilitated by distinguished Māori leaders and senior government officials using indigenous methods. The Vice Chancellor of Victoria University was approached in 1986 along with its new Professor of Social Work about becoming drivers of Pūao-te-Ata-tū Recommendation 10(c) to “assess the extent to which tertiary social work courses are meeting cultural needs for those public servants seconded as students to the courses”. The early passing of alumnus- Elder John Rangihau, shortly after Pūao-te-Ata-tū was published, left a legacy—acknowledged posthumously by the Council of Victoria University in 1989—when a senior Te Rangihau Scholar teaching and research position was established with Ngāi Tūhoe. A decade of reform in social work education and research at Victoria University saw important movement towards supporting and promoting Māori perspectives in the delivery of community social services in three New Zealand regions.

IMPLICATIONS: Five lessons learned about partnerships from the Victoria University experience are highlighted as issues that promote cultural responsiveness in support of Māori whānau, tamariki and rangatahi. The Wellington programme closed at the start of the new millennium without addressing the VUW Council relationship with Ngāi Tūhoe, highlighting broken promises.

Author Biography

Leon Fulcher, The International Child and Youth Care Network @ www.cyc-net.org

Professor of Social Work (Retired), Child and Youth Care Scholar, Author and Consultant


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How to Cite

Cairns, T., & Fulcher, L. (2022). Pūao-te-Ata-tū and dissenting voices of change at New Zealand’s oldest school of social work. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 34(3), 34–47. https://doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol34iss3id931



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