Educational Philosophy and Theory 51 (7):684-692 (2019)

Washday at the Pā is the title of an old schoolbook, a picture reading book for younger schoolchildren, which was produced in 1964 by the state education system in Aotearoa-New Zealand in 1964, written and photographed by Ans Westra, who later became one of the most famous photographers in the country. Washday at the Pā provoked a national debate when the Minister of Education acceded to protests by the Māori Womens Welfare League against its use in classrooms by withdrawing it completely, and the story of this controversy has remained alive in national consciousness ever since. This research brings Māori feminist philosophy to the Washday debate: I take up Mana Wahine theory as a useful lens on the controversy, understood as an event about, with and for women, in the history of Māori education. The purpose of this article is to reread, using Mana Wahine theory, existing arguments about the book’s withdrawal, and to propose an original resolution of the question at the centre of debate: should the book have been withdrawn from schools, or not?
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DOI 10.1080/00131857.2017.1339339
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