David Seymour
ACT Leader

The Government needs to explain why a new education programme is teaching primary school children about ‘white privilege.

The promise of our country is to value each person as we find them and value their human dignity without prejudice. A policy that asks children to apologise for their colour is the worst form of bigotry. Dressing it up as anti-racism is hypocrisy.

Every human shares 99.9 per cent of their DNA. Government policy should focus on our common humanity and the challenges we each face as we go through life, instead of racially profiling children.

What are teachers supposed to say to a ‘white’ child who may have no money or food at home, be abused, face a learning challenge, or any other challenge? How is it that their colour makes them privileged regardless of their individual circumstances?

Photoshopped image credit: Boondecker

The Government’s latest attempt to push its version of the Treaty and co-governance in education is Te Hurihanganui, a programme being introduced in schools in Te Puke, Wellington, Nelson and Southland.

The programme has a radical goal: transformative changes to indigenise and decolonise the education system.

New Zealand children deserve a positive and inclusive education. No child should have to be apologetic about their creed or colour.

On Thursday, Kelvin Davis announced a further expansion of Te Hurihanganui, claiming our education system is afflicted by “systemic racism”.

It’s concerning that such radical and divisive ideas are being introduced into the curriculum without the Government first having a wider discussion with New Zealanders, particularly parents.

The Blueprint for Te Hurihanganui explains that “Building critical consciousness means reflecting critically on the imbalance of power and resources in society, and taking anti-oppressive action to do something about it for the better. It means recognising white privilege, understanding racism, inequity faced by Maori and disrupting that status quo to strengthen equity.”

The reality is that Maori do face worse social and economic outcomes across the board. Good public policy like charter schools, overhauling the delivery of mental health services, and requiring rehabilitation in prisons, has the potential to deliver better outcomes for Maori. Indoctrinating young kids in radical and divisive ideas will not.

Ka Hikitia, the Government’s wider Maori Education Strategy, also uses the idea.

The Challenging Racism kit, intended for 12 to 14 year-olds, prompted the following response from a teacher:

An excellent discussion tool to start the vital conversation around reflection, understanding, and seeing how racism and white privilege affects the lives of indigenous people on a daily and recurring basis.”

The Ka Hikitia reading list for teachers contains a key paper which claims that “many whites believe their financial and professional successes are the result of their own efforts while ignoring the fact of white privilege.”

We absolutely need to debate and discuss issues around race and inequality in this country. But covertly adding ‘white privilege’ to the curriculum is not the way to do it.

New Zealand children deserve a positive and inclusive education.

The Government needs to front up and tell New Zealanders why it is instead allowing such radical and divisive ideas to be taught to our kids.

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Schoolkids Being Taught about ‘White Privilege’
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