Summer reading list: NZJES books blog 2021

Daniel Couch, Auckland University of Technology
New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies Book Review Editor

This blog revisits the seven books reviewed in 2021 in the New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies (NZARE’s official journal, published by Springer Education). In a similar style to the 2020 books blog by NZJES Co-Editor Georgina Stewart last year, this blog adapts short sections of each published review from 2021.

Reviews of new books are published in each issue of NZJES. These reviews make an important contribution to the broader educational discourse as they engage with books that either arise from, or have significance for, Aotearoa New Zealand’s educational landscape. The books reviewed in 2021 are no exception to this tradition, and complement the research articles found within each issue of the journal.

The titles on this list make for great summer reading, or might just spark gift ideas for the season ahead!

Writing for publication: Liminal reflections for academics

Georgina Tuari Stewart, Nesta Devine, and Leon Benade (Eds).
Springer, Singapore, 2021 (RRP $180.00)

What a curious book this is! Part guidebook and part critique, it exists simultaneously as a resource for finding one’s way through what the editors call the ‘neoliberal university’, as a product of the neoliberal university and its various pressures to produce outputs, and also as a vigorous and critical interrogation of the effect the neoliberal university has on both the form and function of one’s writing. Although the apparent incommensurability of these two perspectives could make for a jarring read, the effect here is luckily the opposite. The three AUT academics responsible for the book have brought together an engaging, highly readable text in which the various contributing authors deftly navigate the need to both offer a guide to writing for publication as it is currently or commonly understood, while also offering space to imagine alternative approaches to writing available to academics.

Adapted from a review by Taylor Alexander Hughson, published in NZJES 56(1).

The promise and practice of university teacher education: Insights from Aotearoa New Zealand

Alexandra C. Gunn, Mary F. Hill, David G. Berg, and Mavis Haigh
Bloomsbury Academic, 2020 (AU$129.60)

This is a timely text using observational, diary and interview data to build a case that reveals the intensification of teacher education work in university settings. The authors’ argument centres on comparing the expectations of roles of academic staff in universities, with those of teacher educators, whose roles are complicated by the expectations and regulations of the Teaching Council. The book is a meticulous exploration of teacher educators’ roles and offers insights rarely seen. The book also opens up debate about the broader nature of teacher educators’ work and suggests the dire need for some rationalisation of university expectations and Teaching Council expectations if university-based teacher education can be sustainable. At times, it is clear that these two sets of expectations clash, to the detriment of both teacher education as a whole and individual teacher educators. It is crucial that teacher educators are not persistently overburdened with work that other university academics do not have to fulfill. Teacher educators deserve a book like this to be read widely and debated. They also deserve a better deal as university academics.

Adapted from a review by Noeline Wright, published in NZJES 56(1).

Pluralist publics in market driven education: Towards more democracy in educational reform

Ruth Boyask
Bloomsbury Academic, 2020. (AU$53.90 paperback/AU$162.00 hardback)

Ruth Boyask’s study is rigorously theoretical and indeed philosophical: being deeply concerned with the nature and the proper nature of education. Theorists drawn on include Nancy Fraser, Anna Yeatman, Basil Bernstein and John Dewey. Boyask expounds an ‘active’ conception of democracy drawn from Dewey in which the public (or publics) chooses which experts to work alongside and is involved in extending its own engagement skills, building its capacities in democratic participation through education and access to systematic knowledge. The fulcrum of the book is what these ideals might be and particularly to what extent are they being delivered by various schools, although Boyask resignedly notes that it is often easier to recognise what isn’t democratic versus what is democratic. This book examines a range of alternative schools to explore which push the boundaries, arguing in effect that if innovation can’t be found at the boundaries it is unlikely to be found elsewhere in the body of the beast.

Adapted from a review by Charles Crothers, published in NZJES 56(1).

Reppin’: Pacific Islander youth and native justice

Keith L. Camacho (Ed)
University of Washington Press, 2021 (USD$30.00 paperback/USD$99.00 hardcover)

Reppin’ is an anthology documenting diverse expressions of Pasifika Youth activism, in both indigenous and diasporic contexts. Celebrating the cultural knowledge, customs, and traditions inherited through ancestral ties, this collection of youth experiences acts as a means of empowerment for contemporary Pacific Islanders. Transcending Colonial and Western anthropological perceptions of Pasifika as primitive or inferior to their colonisers, the youth showcased in this book re-write the histories perpetuated in modern society. These stories carry the collective voice of agency and change in their creative expressions of decolonisation, taking inspiration from African American Urban life and reppin’ Pacific culture in the face of heteropatriarchy and settler colonialism. Arranged in three primary sections, the contributors and youth of Reppin’ establish instances of ‘ta vā’, spatial and temporal dimensions of dialogue where their realities transcend political, socio-economic, and racial dynamics of influence enforced by colonial powers. This anthology serves as a cornerstone of indigenous anthropological research, reclaiming Pasifika identity not just for the youth of today, but for those of future generations.

Adapted from a review by Joseph Ravlich, published in NZJES 56(2).

Ko Taranaki te maunga

Rachel Buchanan
Bridget Williams Books, Wellington, 2018 (NZ$14.99)

With a journalist training, academic success and whakapapa links to Parihaka, Buchanan has produced a very engaging and readable monograph. The initial chapter ‘Time zones’ introduces Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi, their settlement in coastal Taranaki where people from the four winds were welcomed. Whiti and Tohu followed the kaupapa of non-violent protest. While it was a spiritual, political stance, it was also pragmatic’ (p.45). There may have been brief, traumatic responses to the pacifist Māori who refused to cede their land to the Crown, and a longer period of imprisonment for them. But is it relevant to teachers? Buchanan’s skill in interweaving the personal, the historical, and the present together, can teach us all something. This history of the present challenges us to move into new spaces, to explore places with new knowledge, in ways that can enhance the mana of those we teach. Using knowledge from those holding mana whenua we can strive to become better informed teachers.

Adapted from a review by Margaret Joan Stuart, published in NZJES 56(2).

The Hikairo Schema for primary: Culturally responsive teaching and learning

Matiu Rātima, Jennifer Smith, Angus Macfarlane, and Sonja Macfarlane
NZCER Press, Wellington, 2020 ($40.00)

This book is a practical guide that supports educators to implement culturally responsive practices in their schools and classes. The guide provides straightforward and strengths-based approaches for teachers working in the primary sector. Despite its small size, there is a lot of content contained within the 48 pages. The depth of knowledge and teacher action required to be culturally competent is vast. Teachers will quickly realise that there is far more to achieving cultural competency than ‘cultural awareness’, which is only the first step. This book is not a quick fix method for people hoping to engage superficially and tick off a few boxes. Working through each component in the book to reach the mana tangata (empowering) level of cultural competence will take time and effort. The authors suggest that teachers/schools could spend a term or more working on each component. This book provides an easy-to-follow guide that supports teachers to improve student outcomes by embedding culturally responsive practices into their teaching.

Adapted from a review by Hana Turner-Adams, published in NZJES 56(2).

For women and children: A tribute to Geraldine McDonald

Sue Middleton and Helen May (Eds)
NZCER Press, Wellington, 2019 ($55.00)

Geraldine McDonald’s contribution to education in New Zealand, to young learners, scholars and scholarly institutions, to the generation and dissemination of research, and to policy development, has been widely acknowledged and acclaimed. This posthumously presented festschrift is, in the first instance, a tribute to her work in Early Childhood Care and Education, to her ground breaking feminist research, and her advocacy for gender equity. It is much more, however. Readers are reminded of the chequered nature of the histories of gendered relations, feminist endeavours and developments towards Early Childhood Care and Education—uneven and inconsistent histories, characterised by periods of tension and controversy as well as periods of optimism. As a celebration of a life of commitment to women and children and excellent scholarship, this festschrift most honours Geraldine McDonald in its capacity to inspire reflection, and to generate new and challenging questions for new eras.

Adapted from a review by Maxine Stephenson, published in NZJES 56(2).

Concluding thoughts

The reviews published in NZJES continue to advance educational conversations and introduce new books to Aotearoa New Zealand’s education community. New book authors are invited to get in touch with book review editor Daniel Couch (daniel.couch@aut.ac.nz) to see if NZJES is a suitable place for a review.


The New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies is the official journal of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education. Published twice yearly by Springer Education, the journal presents original reports, critical reviews of educational theory and policy, discussions and commentaries on conceptual and methodological issues in educational research, reports on research in progress, and book reviews. Its multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach aims to nurture and promote educational research. The journal is co-edited by Associate Professor Georgina Stewart and Professor Nesta Devine of AUT – Auckland University of Technology. The book review editor is Dr Daniel Couch, also of AUT.

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