Last week director Taika Waititi made headlines as he fronted the Teaching Council's Unteach Racism campaign.
Meanwhile, over the weekend Act Party leader David Seymour took aim at Ministry of Education programmes like Te Hurihanganui, an initiative to address racism and inequity, that was launched in Te Puke late last year after a trial.
Seymour said discussions around race and inequality were important but he was concerned topics such as white privilege at a primary school level would be divisive.
Te Hurihanganui and Unteach Racism are just the latest examples of attempts to tackle racism off the back of numerous reports and studies that have highlighted systemic racism in New Zealand's education system, and how it holds back the learning of our children.
So why then are the likes of Seymour spending time arguing their worth?
In today's world, in a climate of the Black Lives Matter Movement and other campaigns to bring racial issues to the forefront, it may be easy to think we are tackling racism. But while we have come some way, systemic racism still exists.
We need only look at people's reactions to the possibility of Māori wards. Before law changes, some people would rather spend hours campaigning to overturn a decision to introduce them, than allow Māori a guaranteed seat at council decision-making tables.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Seymour does make a point that yes, white children may have no money or food at home, be abused or face challenges. But the statistics speak for themselves.
In 2019 NCEA level 2 attainment was 64.1 per cent for Māori, compared to 82 per cent for Pākehā and data from the 2011/2012 New Zealand Health Survey indicated Māori
are almost three times as likely as non-Māori to have experienced unfair treatment on the
basis of ethnicity.
So no matter how hard we try, systemic racism is still prevalent and it needs addressing. I welcome any programmes to do so.