Some would say that racism pervedes every aspect of New Zealand culture. But nowhere is it more important to be aware of racial prejudices than in the education section.
On Friday, Pat Snedden (chair of the Manaiakalani Education Trust) delivered a kōrero that required us to consider racism in New Zealand. He began by recounting the efforts taken by Ngāti Whātua to reclaim the land that had been wrongfully taken from them. It took great effort on the part of Ngāti Whātua, but they rose from occupying a tiny amount of land in the 50’s to reclaim their land and becoming one of the most successful iwi in New Zealand.
This reminded us of the racism that has occurred in this country and the relevance that this has to us as educators. We cannot allow racism to present itself in our hidden curriculum and we must speak out about such matters. It is so important for our learners to feel empowered and proud to be who they are. There is still much to be done to ensure that the treaty is honoured and equality is reached.
Pat then directed the discussion back to us and the role of Manaiakalani. So many are willing to accept the underachievement of Māori and Pasifika children, presenting a perspective of pity and hopelessness - in some ways, worse than mere apathy.
Our Manaiakalani Forebears had the courage to challenge this view and to attempt to make a change. It is now up to us and those working alongside us to carry forth this vision, to empower our tamariki. Our success will be created by us working together with a common goal: the empowerment and achievement of our children.