Professor Elizabeth Mary Rata

PhD, MEd, BA


Elizabeth Rata is a sociologist of education and a professor in the School of Critical Studies in Education at the Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland. She is Director of the Knowledge in Education Research Unit (KERU) where she led the Knowledge-Rich School Project, 2018-2021. This Project used her Curriculum Design Coherence Model for teachers in their  course design, in professional development programmes, and in pre-service teacher education. she is currently editing the Research Handbook on Curricula and Education for Edward Elgar Publications.

Her post-PhD research was into the effects of ethnic politics on educational change. This work provided the foundation for her most recent research about the importance of academic knowledge in the school curriculum. She is committed to ensuring that all students, no matter what their background, have the opportunity to succeed at school. Her research criticises the current commitment in New Zealand education to student-led learning, innovative learning environments,  the emphasis on teachers as facilitators, and most importantly, the 'cultural turn'  in education. This has seen culturally responsive pedagogies and a cultural curriculum replacing universally produced knowledge and direct instruction by expert teachers.

She was a Senior Fulbright Scholar to Georgetown University, Washington, DC in 2003. Her major books are: A Political Economy of Neotribal Capitalism, 2000, and The Politics of Knowledge in Education, 2012. She  publishes in international journals such as Review of Education, Anthropological Theory, The Curriculum Journal, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Critique of Anthropology, Educational Philosophy and Theory, New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, and the British Educational Research Journal with disciplinary connections to sociology, anthropology, philosophy,and political science. She has supervised over 40 Masters and PhD students in a range of areas including Māori education, higher education, curriculum studies, education policy, and the history of education.

Her most recent book is

Rata, E. and Tamati, T. S. (2022) Academic Achievement in Bilingual and Immersion Education: TransAcquisition Pedagogy and Curriculum Design. Routledge.


10.4324/9781003156444 ISBN: 9781003156444

Elizabeth Rata's recent Submissions

Submission on the New Zealand History Curriculum to the Ministry of Education, May 2021

Research | Current

This section contains descriptions of and publications related to my four main projects followed by media articles and speeches. All publications are available for private study by emailing me at

The projects are:

  • Knowledge in Education
  • The Knowledge-Rich School project and the Curriculum Design Coherence Model
  • Education and Democracy
  • The Politics of Ethnicity in Education



My research into knowledge in education is undertaken with colleagues in the Knowledge in Education Research Unit (KERU). KERU is a cross-Faculty Research Unit located in the School of Critical Studies (CRSTIE) in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland. I established KERU in 2010 following the visit to the School by that year’s Hood Fellow, Professor Michael Young. KERU members attend the Knowledge in Education (KiE) symposia held biennially at Jesus College, Cambridge University.

KERU Website

Selected publications and videoed presentations about knowledge in education

The Curriculum Design Coherence Model (Rata, 2019)


Rata, E. (2021). The Curriculum Design Coherence Model in the Knowledge-Rich Schoool Project. Review of Education. DOI: 10.1002/rev3.3254

Rata, E. (2021) Context and Implications Document for The Curriculum Design Coherence Model in the Knowledge-Rich Schoool Project. Review of Education. DOI: 10.1002/rev3.3253

Rata E., McPhail G. (2020) Teacher Professional Development, the Knowledge-Rich School Project and the Curriculum Design Coherence Model. In: Fox J., Alexander C., Aspland T. (eds) Teacher Education in Globalised Times. Springer, Singapore

Rata, E. (2019). Knowledge-Rich Teaching: A Model of Curriculum Design Coherence, British Educational Research Journal. Vol. 45 Issue 4, p681-697.


McPhail, G., & Rata, E. The Knowledge Democracy Connection and Music Education, Philosophy of Music Education Review, 27 (2), 112-132.

Rata, E. (2018) Knowledge and politics, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 50:14, 1318-1319, DOI:10.1080/00131857.2018.1461363.

Rata, E. (2017). Knowledge and Teaching, British Educational Research Journal. 43(5), 1003-1017. DOI:10.1002/berj.3301

Rata, E. (2016). A pedagogy of conceptual progression and the case for academic knowledge. British Educational Research Journal, 42 (1), 168-184. 10.1002/berj.3195;

Rata, E, McPhail, G, & Barrett, B. (2019). An Engaging Pedagogy for an Academic Curriculum. The Curriculum Journal, 30(2), 162-180.

Rata, E. and Taylor, A. (2015). Knowledge equivalence discourse in New Zealand secondary school science. New Zealand Journal of Educational Research. 50(2), 223-238. DOI 10.1007/s40841-015-0020-1

McPhail, G. & Rata, E. (2017). A theoretical model of curriculum design: ‘Powerful Knowledge’ and ‘21st Century Learning’. In. B. Barrett, U. Hoadley & J. Morgan (Eds.)  Knowledge, curriculum and equity: Social realist perspectives. Routledge publisher. Ch 6.

McPhail, G. & Rata, E. (2015). Comparing Curriculum Types: 'Powerful Knowledge' and '21st Century Learning' New Zealand Journal of Educational Research, 51(1), 53-68.

Rata, E. (2012) The Politics of Knowledge in Education. British Educational Research Journal, 38(1), 103-124. 

Rata, E. (2012) The Politics of Knowledge in Education. London: Routledge.



In 2018, KERU established the Knowledge-Rich School Project to trial my Curriculum Design Coherence Model (CDC Model). In New Zealand the Project involves primary and secondary schools with a kura kaupapa Maori joining in 2020. Initial findings show that the CDC Model is a successful design tool for teachers. It is used to design courses within a school year as well as across the years' programmes in all school subjects, for example, primary writing programmes,  Maths, English, Religious Studies, Music, Science, Social Studies and History. The Project was joined in 2019 by Sheffield Hallam University’s School of Education, led by Dr Richard Pountney,in conjunction with Keele and North Staffordshire Teacher Education KNSTE, led by Diane Swift.

Rata, E. (2021). The Curriculum Design Coherence Model in the Knowledge-Rich Schoool Project. Review of Education. DOI: 10.1002/rev3.3254

Rata, E. (2021) Context and Implications Document for The Curriculum Design Coherence Model in the Knowledge-Rich Schoool Project. Review of Education. DOI: 10.1002/rev3.3253


My major ongoing theoretical inquiry is about the connection between the type of knowledge taught in education systems like New Zealand’s and the viability of democracy in the 21st century. It has long been assumed that educated people will be committed to democratic principles such as equality and justice and to the institutions which safeguard these principles. However, the emergence of populism and authoritarian governments around the world suggests that we can no longer assume the strength of democracy nor its inevitability as the political system for the future. What then does this new world hold for New Zealand? What can our education do to ensure that democracy remains strong in this country? My research examines the type of knowledge taught at school and how it is taught. I ask how this knowledge and the type of thinking it develops affects young people who have the ability and the desire to be democratic citizens.

The publications for this Project are:

Rata, E. The Politics of Knowledge in Education. Published in The Educationalist, January 2020 (Originally delivered as a Public Lecture, May 2014, Bhopal, India.)

Rata, E. (2017) Connecting Knowledge to Democracy In Knowledge, curriculum and equity:Social realist perspectives. In Barrett, B., Hoadley, U. & J. Morgan, (Eds.), Routledge. (pp. 19-32); London: Routledge.

Rata, E.  (2018), ‘A Durkheimian Approach to Knowledge and Democracy’ In. Guile, D.,Lambert D. & M. Reiss (Eds.), Sociology, Curriculum Studies and Professional Knowledge: New Perspectives on the work of Michael Young (pp. 73-83). London & New York: Routledge. Chapter 5.

Rata, E. (2014). Knowledge and democracy: The strife of the dialectic. In Barrett, B. & Rata, E. (Eds.), Knowledge and the future of the curriculum: International studies in social realism. (pp. 79-91). Basingstoke UK: Palgrave MacMillan.

Rata, E. (2012) The Politics of Knowledge in Education. London: Routledge.


This Project continues my long-term research into the ways in which the ethnic politics of the post-1970s’ decades have influenced education. More recently I have examined the localisation of the curriculum and pedagogy with examples from New Zealand. The project has involved fruitful collaborations with colleagues and masters and doctoral students over the years leading to the following publications.

Corballis, M., Rata, E., and R. Nola (2019). In Defence of Science and Questions for Māori Knowledge. History of Philosophy of Science and Science Teaching. November

Rata, E. (2020). The History of an Intellectual Dispute at Auckland’s School of Education. In Bonal, X., Coxon, E., Novelli, M. Amd V.P. Toni. Roger Dale Festschrift. Springer.

Rata, E. (2019). Response:To the article by Georgina Stewart and Nesta Devine: “A critique of Rata on the politics of knowledge and Māori education” Vol 24 (1) 12-24

Lynch, C. & Rata, E. (2018) Culturally responsive pedagogy: A New Zealand case study, International Studies in Sociology of Education, 27:4, 391-408, DOI: 10.1080/09620214.2018.1468274

Rata, E. (2017) Ethnic Revival. In Fathali M. Moghaddam Ed. The SAGE Encyclopedia of Political Behavior, (pp. 265-268). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

McPhail, G., Rata, E., & Siteine, A. (2018).  The Changing Nature of Music Education. In G.McPhail, V. Thorpe & S. Wise, Case studies in educational change. Perspectives from music education in Aotearoa/New Zealand (pp.  74-91). London: Routledge.

Lomax, D. & Rata, E. (2016). Diversity, social cohesion and the curriculum: A study of a Muslim girls secondary school in New Zealand, Pacific-Asian Education. 28, 31-50.

Rata, E. M. & Zubaran, C. (2016). Ethnic Classification in the New Zealand Health Care System, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 41: 192–209

Rata, E. and Zubaran, C. (2016) Ethnic classification in the New Zealand health care system Atlas of Science. (republished in NZ Politics Today, 19th August 2016)Rata, E. (2015). Multiculturalism and education. In Mansouri, F. (Ed.), Cultural, Religious and Political Contestations: The Multicultural Challenge.  (pp.107-118). Springer.

Rata, E. (2014). The Multicultural-Liberal Contradiction. In Boulou Ebanda de B'béri &

Fethi Mansouri (Eds.), Global Perspectives on the Politics of Multiculturalism in the 21st Century. (pp. 34-49). London & New York: Routledge.

Lourie, M., & Rata, E. (2014). A critique of the role of culture in Maori education. BritishJournal of Sociology of Education, 35(1), 19-26. 

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.

Rata, E. & Tamati, T. (2013). The Effect of Indigenous Politics on English Language Provision in New Zealand's Maori Schools. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 12(5), 262-276.

Rata, E. (2011). Theoretical Claims and Empirical Evidence in Maori Education Discourse. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44(10), 1060-1072.

Rata, E. (2012). 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, (pp. 175-202). Wellington: NZCER.

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). 359–380.

Rata, E. (2010). Localising Neoliberalism: Indigenist Brokerage in the New Zealand University, Globalisation, Societies and Education, 8(4), 523-538. 

Rata, E. (2010). 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.

Rata, E. (2006). Ethnic Ideologies in New Zealand Education, Delta 58 (1), 29-41.

Rata, E. (2005). Race, Ethnicity and Democracy in New Zealand Education, Public Sector, 28, No. 2, 2 – 6.

Rata, E. (2005). Rethinking Biculturalism. Anthropological Theory, 5(3): 267 – 284.

Rata, E. (2004/2005). 'Class Discourses in Neotribal Capitalism' Political Crossroads, 10(2), 19 – 32.

Rata, E. (2004). Neotribal Capitalism and Public Policy, Political Science, 56(1), 55 – 64.

Rata, E. (2005). Marching through the Institutions, The Neotribal Elite and the Treaty of Waitangi, Sites New Series, 1 (2) 56 – 81.

Rata, E. (2004). The Capitulation of the Left, Red and Green, December, 13 – 32.

Rata, E. (2004). Trading on the Treaty, New Zealand Political Review, 53, 28 – 43.

Rata, E. (2003). Leadership Ideology in Neotribal Capitalism, Political Power and Social Theory. 16, 45 – 73.

Rata, E. (2003). An Overview of Neotribal Capitalism, Ethnologies Compareés. Oceanie, debut de siecle. 6.

Rata, E. (2003).  Late Capitalism and Ethnic Revivalism, ‘A New Middle Age?' Anthropological Theory, 3 (1), 46–64.

Rata, E. (2003). The Treaty and Neotribal Capitalism, Public Sector, 26 (3) 2 – 6.

Rata, E. (2002). 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.

Rata, E. (2001). Conflict and Contradiction in Maori-Pakeha Relations. A Critique of Neotribal ideology in Maori Education', UTS Review, 7 (1), 135 – 152.

Rata, E. Constructing the Gaps, New Zealand Political Review, November, 24 – 30, 2000.

Rata, E. (1999). A Theory of Neotribal Capitalism, Review, A Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center  for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems and Civilisations, State University of New York. XXII (3), 231–290, 1999.



Rata, E. (2021) The road to He Puapua – Is there really a treaty partnership? The Democracy Project, 5 July.

Rata, E. (2021) Ethno-nationalism or Democratic Nationalism: which way ahead for New Zealand?

Democracy project (30th June)

Rata, E. (2021).  ‘What we are teaching our kids is ill-conceived’, Newsroom, 16th February

Rata, E. 7th July 2020 ‘NZ History – What to Teach’

Rata, E. The Politics of Knowledge in Education. Published in The Educationalist, January 2020(Originally delivered as a Public Lecture, May 2014, Bhopal, India.)

Rata, E. (2019). NZ History Curriculum a Trojan Horse, Newsroom, 17th September

Rata, E. (2019). Interview. Australian Teacher Magazine. 30th September 2019EducationHQ New Zealand

Rata, E. (2019). Abandoning Reason. Newsroom 23rd April

Rata, E. (2019). Knowledge Blind Spot. Newsroom. 18th February

Rata, E. (2018). Closing Education’s Knowledge Gap. Newsroom, 15th August

Newsroom, 17 April 2018 The Basic Flaw in our Education System

NCEA system gets learning the wrong way round, NZ Herald,  5th July 2018

‘Handicapped by Knowledge Blindspot’ NZ Herald, 7 December 2017, A34.

Academic learning a path to better things and we should treasure it. New Zealand Herald 8 May 2015, A32.

Ethnic Fundamentalism, Speech to NZ Skeptics (2006)


Teaching | Current

Postgraduate supervision



Completions (PhD and EdD)

Xiaoming Tian, 2021

The School Curriculum in China Today: A Study of Economic, Political, and Social Influences

Placed on the Dean's List

Deborah Lomax, 2021

The Liberal Paradox for Muslims educated in New Zealand

Sheraz Akhtar, 2020

Urban Refugees and Education in the Contemporary World: A Case Study of Pakistani Christian Refugees in Bangkok, Thailand

Temitope Adelekan, 2020

Knowledge and Creative Tension in the New Zealand University

Barbara Ormond, 2019

Knowledge in History Education: History Teachers as Curriculum Makers.

Daniel Couch, 2019

The Neoliberal Policy Reassembly of Afghanistan’s Higher Education Sector: Towards a Theory of Conflict Capital.

Yi Huang, 2018

A Neo-Bourdieuian Social Analysis of Neoliberal Ideology in Education: A Study of Chinese Students.

Alexis Siteine, 2018

Knowledge, Identity and curriculum: A Sociological Study of Ethnicity in New Zealand Education

Faculty of Education and Social Work Dean's List

Nominated for NZARE Sutton-Smith Best Doctoral Award

Zulfa Sakhiyya, 2018

Knowledge and the Market: The Internationalisation of Indonesian Higher Education

Tauwehe Sophie Tamati, 2016

Transacquisition Pedagogy for Bilingual Education: A Study in Kura Kaupapa Māori Schools in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Dean’s List. Nominated for UoA Best Doctoral Thesis. Nominated for NZARE Sutton-Smith Best Doctoral Award

Saba Kiani, 2014

Structural contradictions and political tensions in Iranian higher education: The case of English for Academic Purposes Programmes

Megan Lourie, 2013

Symbolic policy: A study of biculturalism and Maori language education in New Zealand

Nominated for NZARE Sutton-Smith Best Doctoral Award

Mallika Bandara, 2012

The feminisation of migration: Sri Lankan women professionals in New Zealand

Graham McPhail, 2012

The canon or the kids: Teachers and the recontextualisation of classical and popular music in the secondary school curriculum

Faculty Nomination for UoA Best Doctoral Thesis. NZARE Sutton-Smith Best Doctoral Award Recipient

Leon Benade, 2011

From technicians to teachers: The New Zealand curriculum and the development of ethical teacher professionality

Kevin Kennan, 2010

Spiritual intelligence and imagination in New Zealand students


Current Doctoral Supervisions

Neil Morrow

The New Zealand Mathematics Curriculum and Student Achievement

Catherine Kelsey

Teacher’s Professional Development in Curriculum Design

Pauline Cooper-Ioelu. The Academic Nurse: The discipline and the development of academic

teaching identities

Rochelle Spicer. Recontextualisation of knowledge in Year 7 and 8 social studies

Janet Field.  Purpose and Knowledge in the international school

Christopher Poor

Global crisis and the self-education of humanity: A transformational praxis model

Cristopher Lynch

The History of Science Education in New Zealand





Kieran Gainsford

Knowledge in New Zealand's secondary school chemistry curriculum

Louise Zame, 2019

Knowledge and Inquiry Learning in a Primary School

Lizzie Grace, 2018

Navigating Curriculum and Pedagogy in Secondary English Text Selection

Mi Zhou, 2018

Comparing the New Zealand and Chinese curricula reforms

Noella Yoon 2017

National certificate of educational achievement (NCEA): education or populism?

Cristopher Lynch 2017

Teachers’ attitudes to Maori educational achievement initiatives

Vimla Sewpershad 2017

Selecting and Sequencing: Closing the gaps in secondary school mathematics learning

Emma McKeown 2016/17

Policies in Self-Managing Schools

Rochelle Spicer 2016/17

A double edged sword: The effects of changes to a school's decile rating

Steven McDonald 2016

Youth Smoking: Why do they do it?

Charles Liu 2015

Teaching writing in South Auckland primary school

Deborah Lomax 2015

Curriculum Dilemmas: A study of an Islamic girls secondary school in New Zealand

Fifita Fakatulolo Koester

Multiliteracies in Tongan education policy and practice

Neil Morrow

Subject-Specific Mathematical Vocabulary in Mathematics Lessons

Anita Taylor 2014

Investigating the equity of NCEA pathways by measuring parity of innovation year 11 core subject courses in state schools of high, mid and low decide rankings

Veronica Lovejoy 2013

Female motivation to succeed in secondary school history

Daniel Couch, 2011

The ‘new education’ in New Zealand during the 1930s and 1940s

Athlene Ramsay, 2011

Teachers choosing to teach in poor areas

Bishard Mutepha, 2010

The experience of Zimbabwean families in New Zealand

Mallika Bandara, 2007

Cultural identity and change: The experience of migrant women in New Zealand

Jill Burgess

Beliefs and practice: Teacher responses to the bicultural requirements in current New Zealand early childhood education

Linda Cheeseman, 2005

Intentions versus implementation in the numeracy development project

Ta Taoro, 2005

Students’ explanations of their truancy behaviour

Andrew Stierman, 2005

The virtual Colombo Plan

Pamela Young

Where Ta meets Va: Pacific Island peoples’access to the creative industries of New Zealand






  • 2017: World Class professor Award to State University of Semarang, Ministry of Higher Education, Indonesia
  • 2014: Azim Premji Foundation Award, India
  • British Educational Research Journal Paper of the Year Award, 2012
  • International Journal Board for:

    International Studies in Sociology of Education (appointed 2006)

    British Educational Research Journal (appointed 2015)

  • Fulbright Senior Scholarship, Georgetown University, 2003
  • Faculty of Education Excellence in Supervision Award, 2013
  • Excellence in Tertiary Teaching Award, Auckland College of Education, 2002
  • University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship


Areas of expertise

  • Sociology of Education
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Anthropology of Education
  • Education Policy
  • History of New Zealand Education
  • Maori Education
  • Neotribal Capitalism
  • Higher Education
  • Knowledge and Democracy
  • Ethnic Politics
  • Social Realism
  • Teacher Education

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 3, Room 308
New Zealand