The growth of Maori and Pasifika populations is largely due to birth increases. Maori and Pasifika women have higher fertility rates in comparison to European and Asian populations.
Despite the high achievements of many Māori (see Crooks & Flockton, 2002) and Pasifika individuals, and not in any way wanting to downplay how learner performance is being raised through Māori-medium kōhanga reo (early childhood education), kura kaupapa Māori (primary schools), and wharekura (secondary schools), the harsh reality is that average achievement, as shown in PISA and other mathematics assessments (e.g., National Education Monitoring Project), is lower for these ethnic groups.6
This synthesis comes at an important point in time for mathematics education because, although the search for the characteristics of effective pedagogy in pāngarau/mathematics is far from new, identifying and explaining effective practice that meets the needs of all learners is substantially more urgent than at any previous time. Some statistics explain why this is so. “ Middle-class students are far more likely than working-class students to experience success at school. Five times as many students with higher professional origins obtain a university entrance level bursary or better, than those from low-skilled and nonemployed families” (Nash, 1999, p. 268). These data point to the dilemmas that teachers face as they begin with the cultural and socio-economic backgrounds of their students and try to connect them to mathematics.