The Paua Palace

My royal blog, life, opinions and me, it’s all about ME.. Right?

When Racism is ok

Posted by pauaprincess on September 6, 2007

At high school, I was the only person in my class who wasn’t eligible for funding/grants for a higher education.  My classmates noticed that I hadn’t been handed a form.  “Miss how come Paua Princess doesn’t get one?” someone asked.  The teacher responded that the offered funds were only for those of Maori or Pacific Island descent.  Someone piped up, “Miss, that’s racist!” and she was right.  But that kind of racism is apparently ok.  Because I am of European derivation, I could apparently afford to pay for my own higher education and even if I couldn’t, there are plenty of european girls who’s parents could afford to pay and so the numbers would balance up.

My friend Lana was told in the 3rd form, she couldn’t join the school Maori club because she wasn’t Maori.  She ended up joining the Samoan club who welcomed her with open arms, even though she wasn’t Samoan either.

On official forms eg immigration/census there is always a question on ethnicity that goes along the lines of:

  • New Zealand Maori
  • European
  • Other

The department of Internal Affairs faced the problem of so many people like myself nullifying the ethnicity question by crossing out all options and writing either Kiwi or New Zealander, that they eventually changed it for the last census. 

We have a political party called the Maori Party.  We have a Maori electoral roll and persons on that roll, vote for Maori seats.

In April of this year, MP Tariana Turia, blamed the issue disproportionate representation of Maori in child abuse statistics on colonisation

Now, if I know my history, New Zealand was being settled by Europeans prior to the arrival of Samuel Marsden the first missionary in 1814.  That means European and Maori have been co habitating for close to 200 years. 

Why is it, that we haven’t sorted out the issues?  Why can’t I be a New Zealander, why do I have to be forever linked to Europe? 

Can you imagine the furore today if there was a political party called the European Party?  Scholarships for those of European descent alone? An electoral roll that excluded Maori specifically?

Is it ok to blame the events of over 100 years ago for what happens today? 

Just because Maori are disproportionately represented in child abuse statistics, is it honest or fair to label it, a “Maori” problem?  Should we be approaching it as an issue wholly or on a specifically cultural level?

Why do we condemn current immigrants for sticking to their own communities and practicing their customs and traditions, pull out the adage about when in Rome, yet encourage a renaissance of Maori culture?

In my view, we are all New Zealanders. 

We are all equal and though we may have different origins, we should be able to celebrate and continue traditions equally. 

We, not our ancestors are responsible for our current situations and behaviors.  I’m not petitioning the current French Government for restoration of my lands and family fortune lost during the revolution. 

Every person born in this country gets an equal chance at education, whether one chooses to learn or not, is up to them. Everyone has an equal chance of becoming exactly what they want to become, if they have the ambition to do it.

Does it do any good to divide ourselves along racial lines, even if the intention behind the division is good? Or does it just create racially divisive anger and discontent?  Do we merely encourage people to feel disadvantaged and offer them an excuse to fail, by constantly harking back to racial and cultural divides?

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2 Responses to “When Racism is ok”

  1. scrappydo said

    I’m one of those who ticks “other” and specifies New Zealander…
    When I go back 5 generations (at least!)that were all born here in I can’t quite figure out how I can possibly be from Europe!

    In saying that, I do have enough maori *blood* to be entitled to various things…. but remember all too well at varsity being told to take a look at myself as I didn’t even look maori and what on earth did I think I was doing even trying to find out how I could be helped through uni blah blah blah. (being a *whitey* apparently I shouldn’t have needed help through uni – nevermind my parents couldn’t afford it so I had to work 2 jobs to put myself through) It still makes my blood boil that I was too shy to call it out for what it was: racism.

    To be honest I think it’s high time that we stopped segmenting our selves based on percieved ethnic lines.

  2. Hey I was once told by a blue eyed,red haired,lily white dude with a surname of Norton (very tangata whenua name Norton right up there with Kupe)that my great grandparents supported apartheid. As I understood his story, his English ancestor immigrated, shacked up with a local woman and had kids then dumped her when he brought his family out… and my ancestors were the evil colonists? Not to mention, my complexion was/is definitely darker than his was thanks to my French ancestors and their olive skin but seeing as he was going by my appearance and surname, I really don’t know how he made that leap! To be honest my mother could pass for half cast and so could my maternal grandmother, we don’t know why that is because my Grandma was fostered, her mother was a woman of errrr dubious morals and abandoned kids all over the country to different fathers of at least 3 races we know of.

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