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Research To Advance Understanding Of National Identity

MEDIA RELEASE Monday 5th September 2011 For immediate release

Research To Advance Understanding Of National Identity

A nation-wide survey of Year 12 students launched this week by a team of researchers at Massey University hopes to “significantly advance our understanding of national identity” says Veronica Tawhai, policy lecturer at Te Pūtahi a Toi, School of Māori Studies at Massey University and a member of the research team.

“It is often assumed that people connect with being a ‘New Zealander’ and have a common understanding of what that means” says Ms Tawhai. “In reality, people’s sense of national identity can be complex and influenced by many things, including ethnicity and culture, school, family and friends, and media and technology”.

New Zealand is an increasingly diverse and mobile society, with one in five people in New Zealand being overseas-born. The increase in te reo Māori medium schools, including bilingual, immersion classes and wharekura, is also expected to have a significant impact on students’ sense of identity. “This survey hopes to provide a powerful snapshot into our sense of national identity and the experiences that shape this, for both Māori, Pākehā, those born locally and those born overseas”.

The survey also investigates Year 12 students’ understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi, why there are Treaty settlements, Māori seats in parliament, and te reo Māori television and radio. “These form part of the unique identity of our country, and yet are also some of the most contentious issues nationally” says Ms Tawhai. “This research will give us some indication of how prepared young citizens are to engage in and contribute to these debates throughout their adult life”.

The survey is offered online and will run for the month of September. Students who participate can go into a draw to win an iPod Touch, and $1000 professional development funds for their school. A letter sent to all schools inviting them to participate has the details on how to access the survey.

“The results of the survey will be provided to schools, but also to government departments such as the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Education, Health, and Te Puni Kokiri Ministry for Māori Development, to assist their efforts to support the positive development of our young people and their identity” concluded Ms Tawhai.


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