Recent curriculum development in New Zealand has included an emphasis on the notion of developing students’ identity. This presents a dilemma for New Zealand teachers who are working in an education system where diversity is acknowledged and valued in curriculum documents but who are living in a society where fragmentation, confusion and even hostility exists towards pluralism. Introductory comments to the Ministry of Education policy statement The New Zealand Curriculum include a pronouncement that, “The New Zealand Curriculum is a clear statement of what we deem important in education” (Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 4). Both the vision for young people and the principles, which embody what is important and desirable in the curriculum, detail the hope that students can clarify their own identities in relation to their particular heritages and that they are positive in their own identity (Ministry of Education, 2007). This paper examines the way in which New Zealand teachers have interpreted and addressed the concept of identity in their classroom programmes. It presents an analysis of qualitative data collected in interviews with Year 7 and 8 teachers. Drawing on findings from this study, the author details four categorisations of teacher type: the cultural provider; cultural mediator; cultural transmitter; and cultural popularist. These categorisations underscore teacher choices and practices related to the affirmation of identity. The article argues that teachers allocate rather than affirm a form of identity to their students and that this choice has significant implications, particularly for Pasifika students in New Zealand classrooms.

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