Te Hurihanganui anti-racism and bias school programme launches in Porirua

3:48 pm on 10 June 2019

The associate Minister for Education Kelvin Davis has launched a $42m programme to counter racism and bias within schools, Te Hurihanganui, in Porirua today.

Kelvin Davis, Minister for Crown/Māori Relations, Corrections, and Tourism

The associate Minister for Education Kelvin Davis launched the initiative, which was scrapped by the last government. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

A similar programme, Te Kotahitanga, which had been credited with improving outcomes for Māori students, was scrapped by the last government in 2013.

However, schools like William Colenson College in Napier have continued with the programme, unfunded.

Principal Daniel Murfitt is a massive proponent of Te Kotahitanga and said he was glad the government was reinvesting in the area. He said tackling unconscious bias was complicated but teachers' behaviours did change when they became more aware.

"When they become critically conscious of the impact of racism on young people and young Māori people it actually changes their behaviours and therefore they become more effective teachers because they're conscious of those barriers that are placed in front of Māori students."

William Colenso College head girl Cassiopeia Harrison said she was nervous going into mainstream schools coming from only Māori-medium schools.

"I thought coming to a mainstream school would be way different and hard but they're real interested in our culture and our Māoritanga and it's reflected in our principal too - he'll be on the marae helping out, doing the korero and all that stuff too."

The College's head boy Lee Rangitaawa has been to a number of schools, but didn't feel like he had the same support from teachers.

"This one for sure has to be one of the best schools because you can interact with the teachers on a personal level, so it's almost like you're all friends and family at school, and then at other schools the learning was self-implemented so the teacher would help you but they'll say this is what you need to do and then you do it yourself whereas at Colenso you can ask the teacher for help and they'll even take out their own time if you need for tutoring."

"It's not, I'm the teacher, you're the student, it's we're friends I can help you out whenever you need."

The $42 million would fund hui with whānau to ensure better engagement between schools and families, and teacher development.

"It's about lifting expectations and believing that Māori students can achieve as well as anyone else but also having the practice and the skills to actually make sure that comes about," Associate Minister of Education Kelvin Davis said.

The programme will be tested in six communities over three years, starting later this year.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs