In New South Wales and New Zealand the issue of consultation with indigenous peoples about their education appears to be a relatively recent historical phenomenon. This paper traces the broad education policy shifts since 1788 in New South Wales and New Zealand in order to identify similarities and differences between these geographic localities in relation to the consultation process. It suggests that lack of consultation had its roots in nineteenth century ideologies of 'race', and, that in spite of some differences, aspects of each country's education policies have always been written so as not to exclude any particular race of people, while others have specifically been formulated to ensure that Aboriginal and Maori cultural needs are not taken into consideration. In both cases there has been very little involvement of Maori and Aboriginal people in the decision-making stages of the policy-making processes, even in the late twentieth century. A prolonged failure on the part of governments to provide 'ownership' of education for those people together with ever-pervasive assimilationist policies have resulted in an unjust and inequitable balance of power in society that is only now beginning to be addressed through the struggles over schooling by Maori and Aboriginal people.