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Kia ora koutou katoa, my name is Will Taylor, I'm a student at the Dunedin College of Education. I have started a research project covering how Maori students can be affected in the Education system by both positive and negative sterotypes. All and any of your experiences would be much appreciated.
Kia ora Will, it's very difficult to see how something affects you unless your waiting for it to happen. Alot of my life experiences were no doubt influenced by my ethicity.
Viz. Education. When I went to Uni I was one of 300 students in my first year enrolment. Of those 300 14 were Maori. 3 were male. I remember vividly one afternoon sitting in a tutorial when the Tutor approached me and asked where "Eddie" was. I replied that I didn't know who she was talking about, she said she just assumed... (that because we were both Maori...).
On the flip side my father worked for Maori Affairs for twenty years. As a child I would sometimes visit him at work. One day my father introduced me to a man named Graham whom he worked with, he was a large man with dreadlocks and who wouldn't look out of place wearing a patch. After he left I asked my father what the man was doing working here (and not in a scary movie) he told me he was in house legal counsel. For good or bad I became a lawyer because they put the possibility within my realm of reality.
Naku iti noa
Hey Will,I live overseas with my family,my children are half maori and half pakeha.I have found with my kids that if their ain't many dark kids in the town u live in then they are labelled darkies.Yet if we lived in nz they wouldn't be called these names.We have moved to where we live now and my children love it.Their are many different cultures here which they enjoy better.I have noticed that when they meet a kiwi or maori they connect straight away with them.Their is a close bond between kiwi's and maori's meeting overseas.Their all really friendly and happy to meet you. "This is only my own opinion and experience" Thanks Katrina
I think it has been more about the way my name is written and the colour of my skin. Labelled as hori, and people having low expectancy, deemed to fail or be an annoyance to those around. Our bilingual class was dubbed three bi-mongrels! Maybe thats negative to other people but thats just how we were treated. Not all bad, more just the doomed to fail syndrome.
This is one of my sisters stories-
When she took Maori at high school she was ignored by her Maori teacher due to the colour of her skin and her pakeha names.She was an exceptional student and quite gifted so found it frustrating to be ignored, and placed at the back of the class. She struggled on despite the unfairness
It was not untill parent teacher interveiws came around and the teacher warmly greeted our mother who had been a school camarade (from Queen Victoria school) that things improved. The teacher then told my mother she assumed my sister to be pakeha and aplogised for the way she had treated her.
My sister was instantly elevated to a better position and excelled as one of the schools top students.
I did not have this problem when I arrived in this class as by then my family name was known.
When it came to team sports the kids from Maori backgrounds were always considered superior and treated with respect by teachers and students it was just assumed if you were Maori then you would be good at all sports.For those classed as Maori who happened to have two left feet and no co-ordination this expectation created alot of unfair pressure.
The whole classification process back then related to the colour of your skin or your parents colour. Maori kids were not generally expected to achieve -girls married and boys went to blue collar positions, when you aked for more than this you were patronisingly informed of all the difficulties and hurdles which made it seem an impossible task
My mother had been fortunate in her generation (born 1933) to have a Pakeha headmaster a "Mr Wilkinson"who saw her potential and applied for scholarships for both herself and her sister. Both attained scholarships for Queen Victoria School as this teacher refused to ignore their potential. I understand he had a huge job convincing my Grandfather and the School Committee that girls were worthy of further education, he won that round.
I meet him years later and he told me of his struggle. He said he had many years teaching under his belt and of all his students these two he knew were his most gifted students who had real potential but lacked opportunity.
Tena Koe Will Taylor
I'm one of these Maori that believe "if they think you can do it because your maori then don't let them know you can't do it" If they say all Maori can play a guitar I say of cos we can thats why I get my sisters to play it for me while I do other things. Education is no different.
Now here is another sterotype occurance which may ring bells for others.
Who recalls the book
"Wash day at the Pa" by Ans Westra? This is one of those books which was released into the school system and then withdrawn due to what the National Womens Welfare League considered was the bad image it portrayed of Maori family life. In fact many of our people were living in similar circumstances to those portrayed. It had all the hallmarks of poverty and living beneath the bread line with little chance of improvement for the next generation but it alos showed the humour and caring of a family who made the best of a bad situation.This was published around 1964 for use by the Education Department. Wash Day at the Pa was withdrawn as a school resource.
I remember being shocked when the next book was introduced as it had a couple of Maori kids dressed up in their Sunday best, standing in the doorway of the new Huntly brick home.
Today that image is a reality for many but back then those who lived like that were few and far between. Many of us had a reality somewhere between those two extremes and the children who had not come home with you assumed your homelife was either that of "Wash Day at the Pa" or this other book whos name eludes me. Our school was predominately pakeha and these books did influence their ideas regarding how Maori family life was. The few Maori kids in the school knew it was all kaka
They say that university or other tertiary institutions make no distinction between Maori and non-Maori or more specifically between races. Unfortunately, that was true to some extent in the mid 1990's (in my experience - way back if you ask my mum or dad). Why unfortunate? Because often Maori beliefs about the environment, taha wairua and self care etc were not effectively recognised as having any meaningful contribution in the modern era.
Even test or exam questions lacked cultural validity and therefore intelligence was measured on how one adjusted to the impact of 'organised domination'. That is, how one best understood western beliefs and approaches to solving, analysing or critiquing problems or life situations.
'Organised domination' was a condition explored by Rarawa Kahore in his excellent masters paper of 1992 examining the impact it had (and continues to have) on literacy, social mobility and equity outcomes.
Whilst I too can recall countless examples of the visual manifestations of stereotypical attitudes both at school and in the workplace, I am more irritated by the less obvious 'one shoe fits all' approach.
I am of course referring to the negative effects of stereotype because I cannot really recall any positive. It was either negative or tokenistic.
I also tautoko Katrina's response. About Maori living overseas. My daughter relates very well to Maori kids. My wife and I also seem to connect instantly to other Maori living in Australia.
There is an unspoken affinity that speaks volumes through the synchronised lifting of the eyebrow's and a soft "kia ora" as we again lose ourselves back into the crowd. Or have I now unveiled my own stereotypical assumptions?
Am smiling about the Maori living overseas comments. It is so true and yet you may find it of interest to know that many of our Pakeha Kiwis also adopt more Maori type greeting when living a long way from home. A standard greeting between non Maori Kiwis in the German, French, Swiss area I live is typically made in Maori, some even hongi.
The reason is simple- being so far from home and sometimes with other English speakers around it is our Maori culture which defines us as being uniquiely Kiwi. It is our key to identifying and displaying our difference to the other groups within the global melting pot.
The eyebrow and body language is often the hidden sign which indicates to those of us in the know who within the group has grown up and identifies as being Maori.
I tautoko te roopu hinga whanau's comments over that "one shoe fits all" approach weve endured under sufferance,and agree totally that generally sterotyping was either negative and or tokenistic
Another aspect that galled me was that if you questioned the lack of Cultural understanding or accpetance you were invariably shown there was a token Maori who was supposedly looking after your interests and ensuring your cultural needs and expectations were meet and understood.
"TOKEN" being the operative word.
All of course done under the framework of the Pakeha system which doesnt suit our ways.
Where did that leave us- misunderstood, hoodwinked and patronised
Tena koutou. Excellent comments! I have a blue eyed, blonde mokopuna currently attending college
who experienced the 'reverse' discrimination as described by Markonijoy. Mum changed her surname to include both her Maori and Pakeha names to allow her access to all opportunities. A sad indictment on our own Maori teachers & a society which still adheres to a separate curriculum in some subjects ehoa ma.
I'm old school, white as, caned for speaking te reo at our old 'Native' kura as a six year old, but rose above those adversities to become a ggmother who lead my children and mokopuna to harness education from all cultures.
Ignorance is DEFINITELY not bliss!
I agree Ngaku and Mark. While Te Reo Maori was frowned upon at school and other European institutions, the ultimate tokenistic gesture occurs when Maori are invited to open or display their 'Maoriness' as a symbol of national unity at important national or international events.
I call this "Dial a Maori".
my kids are fair haired and fair skinned and when they went to maori classes were treated like crap from their snotty maori teachers (who probably learnt the reo at uni, judging by their accents) cos they thought my kids did not quite meet what they thought maori's should look like.
There is a lot of racial maori's in positions of authority and thats the truth of it.