This article is written as a provocation. By re-examining the practice of discouraging children from speaking te reo Māori in schools, we challenge our students and other researchers to be alert to the ways in which Māori are often positioned in critical research. Many otherwise radical accounts that focus on Māori assimilation into a Western social order unwittingly take a coloniser-centric approach, inevitably representing Māori as passive non-agents.
We ask: Whose actions and motivations are given most attention in our critiques of Māori experiences? And how are Māori positioned in our writing as a result? A Māori-centred narrative, we argue, focuses on Māori as agents, and gives attention to progressive Māori educational thought, and Māori relationality, strategy, determination and survival.