Biculturalism and Multiculturalism: Competing Tensions in Visual Arts Education in Aotearoa-New Zealand

Jill Elizabeth Smith


New Zealand has become an increasingly multicultural society since the 1990s. But multicultural education is complicated in this nation by its position on biculturalism, a commitment founded in its postcolonial history. The finding of an investigation in secondary schools, which showed that national and visual arts curricula emphasize biculturalism over multiculturalism, was reflected in art teachers’ pedagogies. In this paper I discuss how multicultural art education could be strengthened within the existing bicultural framework. Bridging the gap between policies and practices would require art teachers to review their practices and implement strategies which take into account the cultural diversity of students to enhance understandings of their own and other multicultural societies.


visual arts education, bicultural policies in New Zealand, multicultural education

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