Kathie Gay Irwin

Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou

1956 -

Kathie was born at Waipiro Bay and was educated at Hastings Girls’ High. Kathie continued her studies at Palmerston North Teachers’ College from which she graduated in 1976. In 1977 she became a full-time student at Massey University and graduated with B.Ed, B.Ed (1st Class Hons) in 1978, and M.Ed. From 1979-80 she taught at an intermediate school and in 1981 began teaching in the Education Department at Massey University. Kathie worked at Victoria University as a Lecturer in Race Relations and Education. Concurrently, she is working on a PhD thesis on the socialisation of 1st year Māori Secondary School Teachers into the teaching profession. Kathie is also conducting research on the school-based factors affecting the achievement of Māori girls in primary school programmes. Kathie specialises in Māori education and Māori women’s studies. Kathie has written under the names Kathie Irwin, Kathie Cameron and Kathie Cameron-Chemis.

Biographical sources

  • Te Ha questionnaire, 1992.
  • Mana Tiriti: The Art of Protest and Partnership. Wellington, N.Z.: Haeata Måori Women’s Art Collective, Project Waitangi, Wellington City Art Gallery, Daphne Brasell Associates Press, 1991. 44.


  • The Māori Education Foundation: A History and Analysis. Palmerston North, N.Z.: Department of Education, Massey University, and The Māori Education Foundation, 1981.
  • The Māori Education Foundation: A History and Analysis. Delta/Māori Education Foundation, Delta Research Monograph, No. 5, Department of Education, Massey University, 1981.
  • "Māori Women’s Hui." Women’s Studies: Conference Papers ‘82. Ed. Hilary Haines. Auckland, N.Z.: Women’s Studies Association, 1983. 291.
  • A report on the Māori Women’s Hui which was held as a parallel programme to the 5th Annual Women’s Studies Association Conference in August 1982. This article also gives an outline of the steps taken to ensure that Māori women could be given freedom to discuss Māori issues without Pakeha women domination of discussion.
  • "Responding to the Challenge of Multicultural Education." Delta 34 (1984): 45-53.
  • This paper is a consideration of "the way in which change could be brought about at a structural level in [New Zealand’s] education system". Kathie discusses how James Banks’ multiethnic model, as a model of change, could be adapted to a biethnic or bicultural perspective acknowledging tangata whenua. Kathie cites kohanga reo as a successful example of Banks’ model in the New Zealand context but notes that taha Māori is still treated as an adjunct in most schools and is not an integral part of the education curriculum.
  • "Born into Conflict." Beyond Expectations: Fourteen New Zealand Women Write About Their Lives. Ed. Margaret Clark. Wellington, N.Z.: Allen & Unwin/Port Nicholson, 1986. 192-205.
  • In this autobiographical essay, Kathie writes of the major impact of racism and sexism on her life, and the positive influence of her grandparents, Horiana and John Laughton, and her parents Keith and Kath Cameron who all had a great commitment to the Māori race and education. Kathie notes the strong female role models in her family who fleshed out feminist ideals. Kathie reflect on her education at Hastings Girls’ High, and at Teachers’ College and University. She writes of her commitment to work towards bringing change into New Zealand education.
  • "Tangata Whenua Perspective: Towards Equity in Education: The Interview - a Bicultural Educational Initiative at Victoria University." New Settlers and Multicultural Education Issues 5.3 (1988): 14-16.
  • "Racism and Education." Getting it Right: Aspects of Ethnicity and Equality in New Zealand Education. Ed. Walter Hirsh and Raymond Scott. Auckland, N.Z.: Office of the Race Relations Conciliator, 1988. 49-60.
  • Kathleen Irwin writes that the "major concern of the paper is to address the impact of racism on education". This is facilitated through an examination of the following themes: ‘the definition of racism; sites at which racism manifest itself; the issue of guilt; multicultural education as the context for educational reform; and the comprehensive change required to bring about educational reform in a bicultural society.’ Kathleen concludes by drawing on J. Banks’ model for reform; this is entitled "A reformed school environment based on a multi-factor paradigm (holism)". (1986).
  • "Māori, Feminist, Academic." Sites: A Journal for Radical Perspectives on Culture 17 (1988): 30-38.
  • In this autobiographical article Kathleen discusses her identity as Māori, feminist and academic, and she explores how these different aspects of her identity intersect. Kathleen examines the issue of sexism within the Māori world and includes quotations from other Māori women.
  • Government Review of Te Kohanga Reo. Wellington, N.Z.: Government Printer, 1988.
  • "Multicultural Education: The New Zealand Response." New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies 24.1 (1989): 3-18.
  • "Bicultural Education in ‘Tomorrow’s Schools.’" PPTA Journal Term 1 (1989): 18- 20.
  • "Compensatory Education, Head Start and Affirmative Action: Implications for Māori Education in New Zealand." The Impact of American Ideas on New Zealand’s Educational Policy, Practice and Thinking. Ed. David Philips, Geoff Lealand and Geraldine McDonald. Wellington, N.Z.: New Zealand-United States Education Foundation/New Zealand Council for Educational Research, 1989.
  • "The Politics of Kohanga Reo." New Zealand Education Policy Today: Critical Perspectives. Ed. Sue Middleton, John Codd and Alison Jones. Wellington, N.Z.: Allen & Unwin and Port Nicholson, 1990. 110-120.
  • Kathie Irwin provides an historical and political context from which the Te Kohanga Reo movement emerged. She discusses the initiatives pioneered by Kara Puketapu, describes the philosophy behind the Tu Tangata movement and lists the objectives for Māori development devised at the Hui Taumata - the Māori Economic Development Conference of 1984. Kathie writes a brief history of the development of the Kohanga Reo vision and outlines its aims, its modus operandi and its impact on Māoridom.
  • "‘Challenges’, To Māori Feminists." Broadsheet 182 (1990): 20-23. Rpt. in Broadsheet: Twenty Years of Broadsheet Magazine. Comp. Pat Rosier. Auckland, N.Z.: New Women’s Press, 1992. 79-85. An extract rpt. in Te Ao Mārama: Regaining Aotearoa: Māori Writers Speak Out. Comp. and ed. Witi Ihimaera. Contributing ed. Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D. S. Long. Vol. 2: He Whakaatanga O Te Ao: The Reality. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1993. 299-304.
  • Kathie Irwin defines aspects of Māori feminism which are distinct to other branches of feminism. She notes that Māori feminism is not anti-men, nor anti-Māori, but "seeks to re-establish the mana wāhine of [Māori] women, to allow [them] to stand tall beside the men in [their] whānau again". Kathie briefly looks at the impact of colonisation on Māori women, discusses key components of contemporary Māori feminism, and writes of her commitment for a greater unity between Māori men, and between Māori men and women. This was part of the text of Kathie’s paper to the Second Feminist Educators’ Conference held in Christchurch in January 1990.
  • "Māori Women: An Annotated and Computerised Bibliography." Women’s Studies Journal 6.1/2 (1990): 1-17.
  • "Māori Women: An Annotated Bibliography and Computerised Database." Women’s Studies Journal 6.1/2 (1990): 1-16. Rpt. in ‘Beyond 1990 - Where Do We Go From Here?’: Proceedings of the Third Annual Conference of the Māori University Teachers Association, Taumutu Marae, Ellesmere, Canterbury, 1-3 February 1991/’A muri i te tau 1990- ka ahu pehea tatau?’: Te Ripoata me Nga Pepa o Te Hui-a-Tau a Te Matawhanui. Ngāti Moki Marae Taumutu, Te Waihora Te Wai Pounamu. 1-3 Pepuere/Hue Tanguru, 1991. Ed. K. L. Garden, J. N. Mane-Wheoki, R. Parker. [Christchurch, N.Z.]: Nga Pu Kōrero, University of Canterbury/Lincoln University, January 1992. 21-29.
  • Co-authors Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin, Lenaire Wilcox. In this discussion of the vision and mechanics of compiling an annotated bibliography of Māori women, the authors outline the organisation of the bibliography, the research process and provide autobiographical statements.
  • "The Education Basket." Mana Tiriti: The Art of Protest and Partnership. Wellington, N.Z.: Haeata Māori Women’s Art Collective, Project Waitangi, Wellington City Art Gallery, Daphne Brasell, 1991. 44-45.
  • Kathie Irwin asserts that for the last 150 years the New Zealand education system has promoted a Pakeha world view that has ignored or sidelined Māori culture, language and perceptions of knowledge. Kathie challenges New Zealanders to examine what is included in our education system and to deconstruct the notion that education can be culturally neutral. Kathie argues that apart from within kura kaupapa Māori and kohanga reo, Māori have to sit within education institutions that do not affirm Māori values and which perpetuate monolingual and monocultural values.
  • "A Non Sexist Bibliography for Teachers." Non-Sexist Resources: A Guide for Teachers. Wellington, N.Z.: Learning Media, 1991.
  • Co-authors K. G. Irwin and P. Smith.
  • "Who Needs Education Conferences?" Race Gender Class 11/12 (1991): 32-35.
  • In this interview Kathie gives a critique of the education conferences she has attended. She voices her disappointment and disillusionment at the lack of a Māori component and the absence of discussion concerning the low turn-out of Māori delegates.
  • "Horiana Te Kauru Laughton." Biography of New Zealand Women: Ko kui ma te kaupapa. Ed. Charlotte MacDonald, Meremere Penfold and Bridget Williams. Wellington, N.Z.: Bridget Williams, 1991. 364-367.
  • A biography of Kathie Irwin’s grandmother, Horiana Te Kauru Laughton, a "pioneer educator" who was a teaching assistant in the Presbyterian Mission Service working at Waihou, Matahi and at Turakina. She married Presbyterian missionary Very Rev John Laughton and worked with him on a number of projects including proof-reading the revised Māori Bible.
  • "Towards Theories of Māori Feminism." Feminist Voices: Women’s Studies Texts for Aotearoa/New Zealand. Ed. Rosemary Du Plessis with Phillida Bunkle, Kathie Irwin, Alison Laurie and Sue Middleton. Auckland, N.Z.: Oxford UP, 1992. 1-21.
  • Kathie Irwin writes a strong case for the development of Māori feminist theory and asserts that Māori women need to be written back into the records, to be made visible. She contends that while the holistic ethos of Māoridom necessitates a theoretical approach which recognises the interrelatedness of Māori women with Māori culture and society, the statistics surrounding Māori women powerfully support the need for specialised study. Kathie notes that such a study must recognise the great variety of determiners that affect Māori women, such as iwi affiliation, social class, sexual preference, knowledge of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. She challenges the time-wasting debates that try and identify the "ideologically correct, real Māori women".
  • "Becoming an Academic: Contradictions and Dilemmas of a Māori Feminist." Women and Education in Aotearoa 2. Ed. Sue Middleton and Alison Jones. Wellington, N.Z.: Bridget Williams, 1992. 52-67.
  • Kathie Irwin writes of the influences of her whakapapa and whanaungatanga in directing her into education. Kathie discusses the state of the education system in the 1980s in respect to academic women, and she recalls the specific issues she faced as a Māori, feminist and mother in the university environment.
  • Feminist Voices. Ed. Kathie Irwin, Phillida Bunkle, Rosemary Novitz, Sue Middleton and Alison Laurie. Auckland, N.Z.: Oxford UP, 1992.
  • "Māori Research Methods and Processes: An Exploration." Sites: A Journal for South Pacific Cultural Studies 28 (1994): 25-43.
  • A comprehensive discourse on the various issues shaping the direction and course of Kathie’s research as a Māori feminist academic. Kathie discusses the three main aims of her doctoral research. She looks at the mandate to do the research, analysing the correct Māori kaupapa to begin researching and the power dynamics of research.
  • Introduction: Te Ihi, Te Wehi, Te Mana o nga Wahine Māori. Toi Wāhine: The Worlds of Māori Women. Ed. Kathie Irwin and Irihapeti Ramsden. Auckland, N.Z.: Penguin, 1995. 9-13.
  • Kathie Irwin writes that Toi Wāhine is "a celebration of mana wahine". The selection has been inclusive though not exhaustive with the kaupapa being to link together as one the various expressions of Māori women’s creativity.
  • Toi Wāhine: The Worlds of Māori Women. Ed. Kathie Irwin and Irihapeti Ramsden. Auckland, N.Z.: Penguin, 1995.
  • Kathie Irwin writes that this publication "explores the dreams, lives, thoughts, experiences and reflections of Māori women, as well as the concerns and issues facing us."
  • Other

  • “Māori People and the Library: A Bibliography of Ngāti Kahungunu and Te Waka Takitimu Resources.” Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Education, Victoria University, 1989.
  • Co-authors Kathie Irwin and Willis Katene.
  • Māori Women: An Annotated Bibliography. Wellington, N.Z.: Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin and Lenaire Wilcox in association with Learning Media, 1991.
  • Co-authors Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin and Lenaire Wilcox. An annotated bibliography of published references written "either by or about Māori women".
  • Reviews

  • "Race Relations Treated too Skimpily." Dominion 16 Dec. 1989: 11.


  • "Who Needs Education Conferences?" Race Gender Class 11/12 (1991): 32-35.
  • Other

  • Erai, Michelle, Fuli, Everdina, Irwin, Kathie and Wilcox, Lenaire. Māori Women: An Annotated Bibliography. [Wellington, N.Z.]: Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin and Lenaire Wilcox, 1991. 5, 13-14.