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Coloring in the White Spaces

Reclaiming Cultural Identity in Whitestream Schools


Ann Milne

This book examines the struggle against racial and cultural inequity in educational systems, presenting the case study of a New Zealand school and its community’s determination to resist alienating environments. If we look at an untouched child’s coloring book, for instance, we think of the pages as blank. But they’re not actually blank – each page is uniformly white, with lines established to dictate where color is allowed to go. Children by this are taught about the place of color and the importance of staying within pre-determined boundaries and expectations, reinforcing a system where the white background is considered the norm. To challenge such whitestreaming, this book offers the example of a community that defied and rejected this environment in favor of a culturally-located, bilingual learning model of education based on secure cultural identity, stable positive relationships, and aroha (authentic caring and love). This journey is juxtaposed against pervasive deficit-driven, whitestream explanations of inequity and purported «achievement gaps» of indigenous Māori and Pasifika students. This story chronicles the efforts of the Kia Aroha College community on its quest to step outside education’s «White spaces» to create a new space for learning and to reclaim educational sovereignty – where individuals have the absolute right to «be Māori,» to be who they are, in school.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Milne, Ann (Educator) Title: Coloring in the white spaces: reclaiming cultural identity in whitestream schools / Ann Milne. Description: New York: Peter Lang, 2016. Series: Counterpoints: Studies in the postmodern theory of education; vol. 513 | ISSN 1058-1634 Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016032919 | ISBN 978-1-4331-3484-5 (hardcover: alk. paper) ISBN 978-1-4331-3483-8 (paperback: alk. paper) | ISBN 978-1-4331-3739-6 (ebook pdf) ISBN 978-1-4331-3740-2 (epub) | ISBN 978-1-4331-3741-9 (mobi) Subjects: LCSH: Critical pedagogy—New Zealand. Māori (New Zealand people)—Education. Classification: LCC LC196.5.N45 M55 2017 | DDC 370.11/50993—dc23 DOI 10.3726/b10459 LC record available at

Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

Cover art: “Tupuranga” (future generations). Original Artwork by the author’s granddaughter, Kairangi Ihimaera. The red, white, and black, partly-colored pattern is taken from the design of Kia Aroha College’s Māori Performing Arts costumes. It represents the need to “color in” Māori and indigenous spaces in our education systems.

© 2017 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York 29 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY 10006

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