Trapped in the physical: Maori and Pasifika achievement in HPE Research Completed


Trapped in the physical: Maori and Pasifika achievement in HPE

Lead Author

Katie Fitzpatrick


University of Auckland

Publication Year



Asia-Pacific Journal of Health, Sport & Physical Education


Dr Katie Fitzpatrick +64 (0) 9 373 7599


Health and physical education (PE) are low status, marginalised subjects in many schools internationally. However in New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere, they are concurrently credentialed and recognised senior high school options in which students can gain national qualifications. In New Zealand these subjects also tend to attract students who are statistically low achievers in the educational system. For example, health and PE are chosen in senior high school by disproportionate numbers of Māori (indigenous) and migrant Pasifika youth. Results suggest that these same youth achieve more in these disciplines than in other subjects. Considering why large numbers of Māori and Pasifika students choose health and PE is, of course, important. More prescient perhaps is consideration of how their engagement with health and PE intersects with their general positioning in education in relation to social class, ethnicity, physicality and other social hierarchies. Of interest is whether achievement in health and PE reinforces or contests the underachievement of Māori and Pasifika students? In this article, I discuss the implications for marginalised youth in taking health and PE as senior high school options. I draw on Bourdieu’s notion of capital to explore the intersection of ethnicity, health and PE with national qualifications
Keywords:Health education, Physical education, Maori, social classes


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August 21, 2014