It is 2016, part of a long drawn out, time-sapping and energy-consuming process to counter moves by the Government to cap (restrict growth and size of a school) Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Whanau Tahi in Ōtautahi/Christchurch who have requested more classrooms to accommodate the growth they are experiencing year by year.
This is a school that educates Māori successfully, that produces glowing achievement for Māori, as do other Kura Kaupapa Māori schools. And why is this, you may ask? I suggest that these schools provide Māori with their own authentic voice and place to stand unlike mainstream education that is still Pākehā-centred, largely paying lip-service to Te Ao Māori with rhetoric and the question: how can we improve the achievement levels of ‘our’ Māori students?
Māori are not the problem. We must probe further as to why the Government is not assisting these Kura Kaupapa Schools anyway they can? What is so hard about re-locatable classrooms? Why is this school not being given even a minimum of help to follow through on what it is clearly doing very well?
My take on the matter is that it is racism, Institutional Racism that does not like the independent Māori doing well and being successful. Pākahā dominated institutions still want to apply Pākehā rules and tell Māori what to do and how to do it. This is not stated of course. What is stated are all sorts of other rationales such as, no money for buildings and so on and so forth; the presentation of everyday facts as though they really are a barrier to passionate endeavour that is about the promotion of a culture, a language, a whole way of being that is beneficial for the participants. This is the history of Aotearoa repeated time and again, ‘hindering’ Māori initiatives.
Furthermore, a Māori Minister of Education is a face within a white, male dominated institution that is our Government. Just as conditions for women in Aotearoa were not improved by the female leadership of Jenny Shipley or Helen Clark, Māori continue their historic fight with the Pākehā rules entity that is the Crown.
by Lizzie Cook
Lizzie is a Pākehā PhD candidate in Sociology at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha. Her thesis title is Pākehā Bliss of Cruelty.