New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies

, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 109–121 | Cite as

An Idea Whose Time Had Come: The Turn to Inclusion in New Zealand’s Education Policy

  • Trish McMenaminEmail author


In 1996 the New Zealand government announced the aim of achieving a “world class inclusive education system” in its new policy, Special Education 2000 (SE2000). The use of the language of inclusion in SE2000 was a new departure in the official policy lexicon and signalled that New Zealand had joined other countries in embracing the principles of inclusion in education policy. This article examines the development and trajectory of inclusive education policy in New Zealand during the 1980s and 1990s. Through an historical examination of developments in that period, the article shows that while the use of the language of inclusion in SE2000 may have been novel to the policy lexicon, the ideas and precepts underpinning inclusion were not new and had been voiced in New Zealand’s education and wider social context for many years. The article concludes with the proposition that the turn to inclusion in New Zealand education was long in the making and that its announcement in SE2000 confirmed what was an inevitable policy direction.


Inclusive education policy Special education Inclusion New Zealand 


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Copyright information

© New Zealand Association for Research in Education 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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