Maori and Pasifika principals face racism at work – survey

Long Lunch 19/06/2018

Maori and Pasifika heads of primary schools are facing racism at work, according to new survey.

NZEI Te Rui Roa’s survey revealed that almost 26 pecent Māori and Pasifika principals, with nearly one-third of them confirming that discrimination is a significant stressor for them.

The survey’s respondents noted a range of discrimination from “micro-aggressions”, overtly racist statements about themselves or other Māori through to institutional and systemic racism.

What I’d like to see is a country where every person spoke te reo Maori.

Myles Ferris, Te Akatea (New Zealand Maori Principals’ Association) president, gave a shocking example where a board member told a new Maori principal “we don’t go to marae because they’re full of paedophiles”.

“These are some of the things we’ve identified as what’s happening,” Mr Ferris told RadioLIVE.

While Mr Ferris agreed there should be programmes informing school employees of appropriate communication, he believes the solution will come from education on Maori culture.  

“Every teacher effectively looks after 98 percent of the children in this country. If every teacher took it upon themselves to teach cultural responsiveness, sensitivity, cultural growth and sustainability around te reo Maori, around Maori. Within that generation we could effectively be free of this.”

This education, according to Mr Ferris, would allow New Zealanders of all races to understand “the true nature of Maori”.

“We could have a far better society for all,” he told RadioLIVE.

NZEI Te Rui Roa has recommended numerous steps to address discrimination including requiring all school Boards of Trustees, school leaders and Ministry of Education and ERO staff to complete a course on racial equality or cultural competency.

“We look forward to working with the NZEI on addressing issues of discrimination in the education workforce,” Iona Holsted, Ministry of Education secretary said in a statement.

Nevertheless, Mr Ferris wants to see New Zealand teach its children how to speak te reo Maori, which he explained will help educate everyone on Maori culture and allow non-Maori to take pride in their country’s heritage.

“What I’d like to see is a country where every person spoke te reo Maori.

“I absolutely believe Maori and non-Maori can get along a whole lot better if that happened.”

Listen to the full interview with Myles Ferris above.

The Long Lunch with Trudi Nelson in for Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.