Decolonising social work education in Aotearoa New Zealand


  • David McNabb Unitec Institute of Technology


Decolonisation, Indigenous, social work education, leadership, standards, regulation, Mãori, Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia


The social work education sector has a vital role to play in advancing the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples. Global and national standards reinforce this requirement and regulatory frameworks identify decolonising practices as important to the delivery of social work education. While standards influence and guide practices, the degree to which decolonising practices are operationalised at the local level depends upon programme delivery within higher education. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with social work education leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand to explore how decolonising practices were demonstrated within their programmes. The research found that all programmes were committed to a decolonising approach but struggled in different ways to operationalise this commitment and to maintain momentum. Having Mãori staff was seen as essential but there were too few, and meeting regulatory qualification requirements was problematic. Integrating Mãori knowledge and practices within the curriculum was also vital for student learning and building their cultural responsiveness. Non-Mãori staff had a particular responsibility to acknowledge the harmful effects of colonisation and to practise respectful partnership with Mãori. The role of leaders and staff in the operationalising of decolonising practices within social work education is explored for future implications of policy and practice development.

Author Biography

David McNabb, Unitec Institute of Technology

School of Healthcare & Social Practice


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