Editor's note: Two years ago the New Zealand Herald published a timely series about how Pākehā New Zealanders could learn to acknowledge the injustice of colonisation and do something practical about it. It was called Land of the Long White Cloud and timed to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook's arrival in this country. Many of our audience applauded the series; a few objected. Since then we have seen a growing worldwide awareness of racial injustice, sparked by the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and a re-evaluation of colonisation's legacy around the world - from statues and street names to fundamental questions about political power. Like many media organisations, the Herald has had to confront its role in this process, which has led to several changes, including a renewed commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles in our journalism and the creation of our Kāhu section for Māori content. As a result, we are pleased to relaunch an updated version of this series under its original title Beyond White Guilt. It includes this introductory commentary by two of the featured interviewees, Jen Margaret and Alex Hotere-Barnes, who reflect on how much progress Aotearoa has made.
- Murray Kirkness
Editor, New Zealand Herald
Two years have passed since this series of videos was created. Some things have changed. Many things have not.
As educators, we're happy about the move to a more balanced teaching of our histories. While delayed by a year (and many decades late for advocates), Aotearoa New Zealand histories will finally become a part of our school curriculum in 2023. This is one step towards providing our young people with the skills they need to honour the relationship agreed to by, and on behalf of, our ancestors in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We as tangata Tiriti (non-Māori) live here by way of this treaty relationship. We need the courage to understand the stories of our past, including the ways in which this relationship has not been honoured. If we're able to consider what our collective stories mean for the present, we'll be better able to create a healthy future for everyone.
Our daily work is in educating adults about New Zealand history. It's encouraging when Pākehā are willing to confront the past, admit to a lack of knowledge about our shared history, and set themselves on the path of learning more and doing better. We see a huge thirst among Pākehā to listen, grapple with, and take responsibility for the harm we cause. We see the growing commitment from ordinary people to shape another way of living here on this whenua.
At the same time, we're worried that it's us – adults – who hinder the change required for our children.
WATCH THE WHOLE SERIES
• Episode 1: Cook's Legacy
• Episode 2: Recognising Racism
• Episode 3: Inheriting Privilege
• Episode 4: Pākehā Paralysis
• Episode 5: Confronting Colonialism
• Episode 6: Connecting to Aotearoa
• Episode 7: Cook Thinks Again
• Commentary: Time for Pākehā to 'stand up' against racism
Recently, Richard Shaw published a book about his Pākehā ancestors' involvement in the invasion and occupation of Parihaka. We heard him reflecting on the responses of Pākehā strangers to the stories that he had shared. Shaw's experiences align with our own. After these videos were first released in 2019 many Pākehā viewers were grateful and shared their own stories with us. They revealed their sadness about our history and the complex feelings that come with seeing how they've benefited from colonisation. Some shared their feelings of uncertainty or even paralysis about what to do next - not wanting to continue to do harm in this relationship.
But some members of the public unleashed their racist vitriol on Shaw, as they did on us. Of course, this happens even more violently for Māori who share publicly their experiences of colonisation and its ongoing impacts on their lives. These are fearful responses that can fuel division. They're loud and harmful and often the media gives them more space than they actually represent.
The loud voices of the minority pose risks to our progress and well-being. Whether it is the use of te reo in the media, upholding our human rights responsibilities, or providing funding to Māori health providers during a pandemic, a few Pākehā respond with resentment and hatred. This happens even when the impact is positive for all our communities. Their reactions cause harm to Māori, divide our society and fuel racism.
To address racism and create the honourable relationships so many New Zealanders want, the often-quiet supporters of change (many Pākehā) need to ensure they counter this loud minority that paints all Pākehā as reactive, aggressive and openly racist. As well as standing against racism towards Māori, Pākehā adults must stand up for themselves and show a different way to their children and grandchildren.
The new histories curriculum is going to bring critical conversations to the fore in our schools, classrooms, communities and homes. Now more than ever, Pākehā need to raise their voices in support of their children's schools, teachers and communities embracing this change and must learn alongside their children and grandchildren. We want our kids to know what we weren't given the opportunity to learn.
This is hard, complex, exciting and necessary work. Despite their discomfort about not knowing what to do (or not do), or their fears about messing it up, many Pākehā are making and supporting positive change. We are so encouraged by those who are learning to value what we share, as well as our differences.
We don't need to know all the answers. Being willing to endure discomfort is an important first step. Crucially, we need to learn to trust that diverse Māori communities and leaders know what they need. We all have a role to play in creating an educational environment that helps us get there.
Jen Margaret and Alex Hotere-Barnes
Watch all the episodes at nzherald.co.nz/beyondwhiteguilt