The document was innovative in that it brought together the four arts disciplines of Dance, Drama, Music and the Visual Arts, and made engagement with them compulsory for the first eight years of schooling.
The neo-liberal mood of the 1990s questioned ‘nationhood’ and what a nation with many diverse immigrants should do about coping with global identity.
The notion of ‘collective identity’ became an issue, for the enduring Nineteenth Century colonial traditions that framed an acceptable identity as being distinctly middle-class European still held sway.
The artistic and intellectual sense of culture includes “not only traditional arts and forms of intellectual production but also all the ‘signifying practices’” (ibid).
Thus Williams broadens ‘signifying systems’ to include “not only the traditional arts and forms of intellectual production but also all the ‘signifying practices’ – from language through the arts and philosophy to journalism, fashion and advertising – a complex and necessarily extended field” (ibid).
This means acquiring knowledge, skills, attitudes and understandings, and communicating and interpreting the signs, symbols and practices of The Arts in Aotearoa/New Zealand and in the international context.
Significantly, the document states that students will “appreciate the significance and value of toi MÄori (1) in different contexts, developing understandings of the ideas and messages expressed in traditional art forms and contemporary developments” (Ministry of Education, 2000, p. The curriculum writers were directed to prepare a document that would foster individual and cultural identity, maintain history and tradition, and offer challenge and innovation.Nevertheless, any good intent still remained within “the political logic of assimilation” and “attempts to accommodate both a sensitivity to difference and a commitment to the universalistic claims of post-Enlightenment liberalism became increasingly convoluted and forlorn” (Donald & Rattansi, 1993, p. The 1980s acknowledged that different communities have different ways of life, including those with hegemonic power.Such power in New Zealand was held by the PÄkehÄ (a term generally describing ‘white’ New Zealanders of European extraction).An over-emphasis on culture can sometimes see cultural values replaced by market values, and stereotypes can arise, resulting in the inclusive identity of specific groups becoming blurred.This suggests we should see culture, not as a singular, but as layers of beliefs, knowledge, and experiences which both interact and intercede as the requirements of daily living demand.In a “normal” day, individuals express varied cultural and sub-cultural beliefs and understandings, and normality becomes a multifaceted identity.