Wānanga inquiry: Information for teachers

Two sets of cultural values collide in the education sector.

This image is used under license from PhotoNewZealand. The licence to use this image expires on 30 June 2016.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (TWOA) is a Māori-based tertiary education institution. It has given thousands of learners a second chance at education and dramatically increased Māori participation at the tertiary level.

In 2004 and 2005, a Member of Parliament and the media raised concerns about TWOA's spending of public money. The Minister of Education asked the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) to investigate.

The OAG found various practices that were unacceptable for a public organisation. Underlying this finding was a clash of expectations and cultural values, as this case study reveals.

The case study gives students the opportunity to discuss ideas such as nepotism versus whanaungatanga (kinship) and the place of customary Māori practices – such as koha and oral transmission of information – in the modern Pākehā-dominated world. The differing expectations of public and private organisations are also relevant, as is the high value placed on competition in the modern business environment.

Curriculum links

Social studies, Level 1AS 91040 (1.2) – Conduct a social inquiry

National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA)
Social studies, Level 1 AS 91041 (1.3) – Describe consequences of cultural change(s)
New Zealand Curriculum (NZC)
Social sciences, Level 6 Social studies – Understand how cultures adapt and change and that this has consequences for society
Social sciences, Level 6 History – Understand how the causes and consequences of past events that are of significance to New Zealanders shape the lives of people and society
Social sciences, Level 7 Social studies – Understand how conflicts can arise from different cultural beliefs and ideas and be addressed in different ways with differing outcomes


Office of the Auditor-General (2005), Inquiry into certain aspects of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Wellington: Office of the Auditor-General.

Edlin, B. (April 2005), "Economics; nepotism & kinship", NZ Management magazine.

Employment New Zealand (June 2017), Minimum Employment Rights and Responsibilities, Employment New Zealand (accessed at: https://www.employment.govt.nz/starting-employment/rights-and-responsibilities/minimum-rights-of-employees/).

Cumming, G., Stokes, J (February 20, 2005), "Wānanga under heavy fire", New Zealand Herald.

"Kinship and the use of public funds" (editorial), New Zealand Herald, February 22, 2005.

Tariana Turia says Maori don't use the word nepotism (2005), From the blog: New Zealand Labour Scandals (accessed at: http://labourscandals.blogspot.co.nz/2005/02/tariana-turia-says-maori-dont-use-word.html).