Associate Professor Elizabeth Rata
Associate Professor Elizabeth Rata

Associate Professor Elizabeth Rata
School of Critical Studies in Education

phone +64 9 373 7599 ext 46315
fax +64 9 623 8836
office N308

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Elizabeth Rata is Associate Professor in the School of Critical Studies in Education at the Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland specialising in the sociology of education. She was a Senior Fulbright Scholar to Georgetown University, Washington, DC in 2003 and is currently involved in an international comparative study into higher education under the auspices of the European Union’s International Research Scholars Exchange Scheme (IRSES). Her major works are: A Political Economy of Neotribal Capitalism, 2000, and The Politics of Knowledge in Education, 2012. Dr Rata’s research is into the political economy of new social movements, particularly the effects of global economic change on ethnicity, socio-economic class, higher education, and curriculum knowledge.


PhD, MEd (1st Class Hons), PGDipEd, BA, CertTchgSec  

Areas of Expertise

Sociology of Education, Ethnic politics, Knowledge and Education, Curriculum theory, Higher Education, Culture and Identity, Educational Policy, Maori education, Social Realism.


Current research

Neotribal capitalism; higher education; curriculum knowledge; ethnic politics; social realism.

Postgraduate Supervision


  • Veronica Loveday. Female Motivation to succeed in secondary school history. M.Ed.
  • Zahera Alanfooz. Teaching geography using the New Zealand national curriculum standards. B.A. Hons.
  • Kevin Kennan, Spiritual Intelligence and Imagination in New Zealand Students, Ed.D. 2010
  • Benade, Leon: From Technicians to Teachers: The NZ Curriculum and the Development of Ethical Teacher Professionality.  Ed.D. 2012
  • McPhail, Graham: The Canon or the Kids: Teachers & the recontextualistion of classical and popular music in the secondary school curriculum. Ed.D. 2012
  • Bandara, Mallika: The feminisation of migration: Sri Lankan women professionals in New Zealand. PhD. 2012.
  • Ramsay, Athlene: Teachers Choosing to teach in Poor Areas. M.Ed. 2011.
  • Couch, Daniel: New Zealand Education’s Progressive Origin: 1937 to 1944 – The Seven Years from Idea to Orthodoxy. M.Ed. 2011
  • Mutepha, Bishard: The Experience of Zimbabwean Families in New Zealand Master of Education dissertation. M.Ed. 2010
  • Bandara, M. Cultural Identity and Change: The Experience of Migrant Women in New  Zealand. M.Ed.  2007.
  • Burgess, Jill.  Beliefs and Practice: teacher Responses to the Bicultural Requirements in Current  New Zealand Early Education Discourse, M.Ed. 2005.
  • Taoro, Taia. Students’ Explanations of their Truancy Behaviour, M.Ed. 2005.
  • Cheeseman, Linda. Intentions Versus Implementation In the Numeracy Development Projects, M.Ed. 2005.
  • Stierman, Andrew. Research Study, the Virtual Colombo Plan, M.Ed. 2005.
  • Young, Pamela. Where Ta Meets Va, Pacific Island Peoples’ Access to the Creative Industries of New Zealand, Master of Arts in Arts Administration, Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design, Auckland, 2002.


  • Anita Taylor. The distribution of core Year 11 subjects in the student population of selected schools across the decile range’ M.ProfStuds.
  • Lourie, Megan: The politics of culture and the Māori language. Ph.D.
  • Tamati, Tauwehe: Developing English literacy in kura using the Trans-acquisitional Approach Ph.D.
  • Siteine, Alexis: The Affirmation of Identity in New Zealand Primary Schools Ph.D.
  • Kiani, Saba: Structural Contradictions and Political Tensions in Iranian Higher Education: The case of English for Academic Purposes Programmes.
  • Ormond, Barbara: Teachers’ Decisions in Determining Critical Knowledge for Secondary School History.



  • Winner of the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Paper of the Year 2012 for Rata, E. The Politics of Knowledge in Education. British Educational Research Journal 38(1): 103-124. 2012.
  • Fulbright Senior Scholarship
  • Excellence in Tertiary Teaching Award, Auckland College of Education
  • University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship

Committees/Professional Groups/Services

  • School of Critical Studies in Education Research Committee
  • School of Critical Studies in Education Postgraduate Committee


Selected Publications



Rata, E. The Politics of Knowledge in Education, London & New York: Routledge. 2012.

ISBN-10: 0415517494 | ISBN-13: 978-0415517492, NZ$139.00

This book explores the decline of the teaching of epistemic, conceptual knowledge in schools, its replacement with everyday social knowledge, and its relation to changes in the division of labor within the global economy. It argues that the emphasis on social knowledge in postmodern and social constructionist pedagogy compounds the problem, and examines the consequences of these changes for educational opportunity and democracy itself.


Rata, E. and Openshaw, R. (eds.) The Politics of Conformity in New Zealand. Auckland: Pearson Education. 2009.

ISBN 9781442510173, NZ$39.99

The Politics of Conformity in New Zealand provides a critical examination of what happens to a society when a rigid conformity to cultural politics and other orthodoxies replace progressive ideas. The book consists of 12 chapters on a range of topics written by academic experts drawn from universities throughout New Zealand. The topics include cultural politics, biculturalism, historical revisionism, Maori mental health, literacy education, science and research, gender policy, culturalist development programmes for teachers, and the debate over child discipline.

Aimed primarily at academics, graduate students and the critical general reader, this book provides a powerful and disturbing account of the consequences of cultural politics for New Zealand society.


Rata, E., Sullivan, R. (eds.) An Introduction to the History of New Zealand Education. Pearson. 2009

An Introduction to the History of New Zealand Education (editors Elizabeth Rata and Ros Sullivan) is an overview of the New Zealand education system from its establishment in 1877 to the present, illustrating how major issues in education that cause disagreement today have always been disputed.

These include debates about who should pay for education, what teacher education should be like, the uneasy relationship between secularism and religion in schools, the effects of poverty on achievement, debates about gender differences, outdoor education and safety, disability and human rights, the effects of migration on the education system, and the current disputes about Māori education.



Rata, E. and Openshaw, R. (eds.) Public Policy and Ethnicity, The Politics of Ethnic Boundary-Making. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Nov 2006 publication.

H/B ISBN 0-230-00338-9, NZ$79.95 (November 2006) Palgrave Macmillan Publishers UK Limited

Public Policy and Ethnicity is a response to the growing concern in many democracies that ethnicity has become institutionalised as a political category. The book draws on a number of international studies, including New Zealand, to show that this process of public policymaking creates permanent divisions and boundaries. These artificial boundaries are fundamentally at odds with the social fluidity of modern societies and actually undermine the conditions required to promote social justice.

pdf Public Policy and Ethnicity (52 KB PDF)

Rata, E. A Political Economy of Neotribal Capitalism, Lanham, Md and Oxford: Lexington Books. 2000.

Book Reviews

  • Rata, E. Review of Karl Maton and Rob Moore (edited) 2010. Social Realism, Knowledge and the Sociology of Education, Coalitions of the Mind. Continuum. In International Studies in Sociology of Education, 2010. 20(2): 171-178. Rata, E. Socio-economic class and Maori education, In Rata, E., Sullivan, R. (eds.) An Introduction to the History of New Zealand Education (pp101-119) Pearson. 2009

Chapters in books

  • Rata, E. M. (2013). The unintended outcomes of institutionalising ethnicity: Lessons from Maori Education in New Zealand. F. Widdowsen, & A. Howard (Eds.), Approaches to Aboriginal Education in Canada. Calgary. Brush Education.
  • Rata, E. A Critical Study of Maori Education, in Openshaw, R. and Clark, J. (eds). Critic and Conscience: Essays on Education in Memory of John Codd and Roy Nash, Wellington: NZCER, June 2012.
  • Rata, E. & Openshaw, R., Introduction: The Politics of Conformity. In The Politics of Conformity in New Zealand Editors: Openshaw R., Rata, E. (eds) (pp 1-13) Pearson. 2009
  • Rata, E. & Zubaran, C. When Criticism is Silent: New Zealand Mental Health. In The Politics of Conformity in New Zealand Editors: Openshaw R., Rata, E. (eds) (pp 89-114) Pearson. 2009
  • Rata, E. Equality in Education, In. Carpenter, V., Jesson, J., Roberts, P. & M. Stephenson (eds.) Nga kaupapa Here, Macro Influences on Education, (pp, 36-45). Melbourne: Cengage. 2008.
  • Rata, E. Educating for Citizenship in a Bicultural Society. In St.George, A., Brown, S., & O’Neill, J. (eds.) Facing the big questions in teaching: Purpose, power and learning. Melbourne, Vic.: Cengage Learning. 2008.
  • Rata, E. and Openshaw, R. Introduction: Of Mohammad, Murals, and Maori Ceremony. In Rata, E. and Openshaw, R. (eds.) Public Policy and Ethnicity, The Politics of Ethnic Boundary-Making. (pp. 1 - 24). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. 2006.
  • Rata, E. The Political Strategies of Ethnic and Indigenous Elites. In Rata, E. and Openshaw, R. (eds.) Public Policy and Ethnicity, The Politics of Ethnic Boundary-Making. (pp. 40 - 53). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. 2006.
  • Rata, E. Maori Language Revival and New Zealand Education. In Schuster, K. and Witkosky, D. (eds.) Language of the Land: Histories of Language and Nationalism Within Educational Settings. Vol. 2. Information Age Publishing. 2007.
  • Rata, E. Kaupapa Maori Education in New Zealand. In Demaine, J. (ed.) Citizenship and Political Education Today. (pp. 80-103). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. 2004.
  • Rata, E. The Indigenisation of Ethnicity. In Prazniak, R. and Dirlik, A. (eds.) Place and Politics in the Age of Global Capitalism. (pp. 167- 192). New York: Rowman and Littlefield. 2001.

Journal Articles

  • Rata, E. (2013). Knowledge and the politics of culture: An example from New Zealand's higher education policy and practice. Anthropological Theory, 13 (4), 329-346. doi:10.1177/1463499613509993
  • Rata, E. M., & Tamati, T. (2012). Indigenous Politics and Language Provision in New Zealand’s Maori Schools. Journal of Language, Identity and Education. 12:4, 262-276, DOI: 10.1080/15348458.2013.818474
  • Rata, E. (2013 in press) The Limitations of Localised Knowledge: The Te Kotahitanga Example, Delta.
  • Lourie, M. and Rata, E. (2012) A Critique of the Role of Culture in Maori Education. British Journal of Sociology of Education. 10.1080/01425692.2012.736184
  • Rata, E. (2011) The Politics of Knowledge in Education, British Educational Research Journal. Available online 26 September 2011
  • Rata, E. (2011) Encircling the Commons: Neotribal Capitalism in New Zealand Since 2000, Anthropological Theory. 11(3): 327-353.
  • Rata, E. (2011) Discursive Strategies of the Maori Tribal Elite, Critique of Anthropology, 31.4. Available online November.
  • Rata, E. (2011) Theoretical Claims and Empirical Evidence in Maori Education Discourse, Educational Philosophy and Theory. Available online 25 May.
  • Rata, E. (2010) Localising Neoliberalism: Indigenist Brokerage in the New Zealand University, Globalisation, Societies and Education, 8(4): 523-538. doi:10.1080/14767724.2010.537951
  • Rata, E. A Sociology ‘of’ or a Sociology ‘for’ Education? The New Zealand Experience of the Dilemma, Journal of International Studies in Sociology of Education 20(2): 109-128, 2010.
  • Rata, E. A sociology 'of' or a sociology 'for' education? The New Zealand experience of the dilemma" International Studies in Sociology of Education, 20 (2): 109-128, 2010.
  • Openshaw, R. & Rata, E. ‘The Weight of Inquiry: Conflicting Cultures in New Zealand’s Tertiary Institutions, Journal of International Studies in Sociology of Education, 17(4), 407-425, 2007.
  • Rata, E. Ethnic Ideologies in New Zealand Education, Delta 58 (1), 2006.
  • Rata, E. Race, Ethnicity and Democracy in New Zealand Education, Public Sector, 28, No. 2, 2 - 6. 2005.
  • Rata, E. Rethinking Biculturalism. Anthropological Theory, 5(3): 267 - 284, 2005.
  • Rata, E 'Class Discourses in Neotribal Capitalism' Political Crossroads, 10(2), 19 - 32, 2004/2003.
  • Rata, E Neotribal Capitalism and Public Policy, Political Science, 56(1): 55 - 64. June, 2004.
  • Rata, E. Marching through the Institutions, The Neotribal Elite and the Treaty of Waitangi, Sites New Series, 1 (2) 56 – 81, 2004.
  • Rata, E. Leadership Ideology in Neotribal Capitalism, Political Power and Social Theory. 16, 45 - 73, 2003.
  • Rata, E. An Overview of Neotribal Capitalism, Ethnologies Compareés. Oceanie, debut de siecle. 6,
  • Rata, E. Late Capitalism and Ethnic Revivalism, ‘A New Middle Age’? Anthropological Theory, 3 (1), 46-64, 2003.
  • Rata, E. The Treaty and Neotribal Capitalism, Public Sector, 26 (3) 2 - 6, 2003.
  • Rata, E. The Transformation of Indigeneity’, Review, A Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems and Civilisations, State University of New York. XXV (2), 173-195, 2002.


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