This paper offers an overview of complexities of the contexts for education in Aotearoa, which include the need to recognise and include Māori (Indigenous) perspectives, but also to extend this inclusion to the context of increasing ethnic diversity. These complexities include the situation of worsening disparities between rich and poor which disproportionately position Māori and those from Pacific Island backgrounds in situations of poverty. It then offers a brief critique of government policies before providing some examples of models that resist ‘normal science’ categorisations. These include: the Māori values underpinning the effective teachers’ profile of the Kotahitanga project and of the Māori assessment model for early childhood education; the dispositions identified in a Samoan model for assessing young children’s learning; and the approach developed for assessing Māori children’s literacy and numeracy within schools where Māori language is the medium of instruction. These all models position learning within culturally relevant frames that are grounded in non-Western onto-epistemologies which include spiritual, cultural, and collective aspirations.