Our separate history

Tahu Potiki writes in The Press:

The tone of Ansell’s website is generally disturbing and more than a little obsessive. I don’t really understand what so incenses him but, in his supposed pursuit of the truth, he merely appears to be ranting about the imminent dangers of separatism as if it was a modern conspiracy among Maori leaders, the judiciary, state, media and professional historians to distort the lens that is used to view the history of New Zealand.

I think the truth, something Ansell claims to be the champion of, requires a little more consideration than his apparently unbalanced hyperbole.

If ideas of separateness between Maori and Pakeha do exist in New Zealand, it clearly stems from the early days of colonial government when different laws were introduced for the different races.

Examples are not hard to find.

The Native Schools Act 1867 was introduced specifically for children in Maori communities. The purpose of the schools, the funding available and the curriculum taught were different from mainstream schools.

The early church schools educated children in Maori and many children were literate albeit not in English.

The Native Schools had a mission, generally supported by Maori leadership to instruct in English and assimilate the children into European ways. This separate school system remained in place until 1969.

Potiki is quite right that NZ’s past is full of separate laws and policies for Maori and non-Maori.

I think it is appalling that up until 1975, Maori (defined as over 50% Maori descent) were banned from voting in general electorate seats. I can understand things not being too enlightened in the 1850s, but it is incredible that this persisted until the 1970s.

However to me, this is exactly why we should not continue with race based seats. The fact we had them in the past is not, for me, a reason to justify them today. It is a reason to say “the future we aspire to is one where all New Zealanders can vote in any seat, regardless of their ethnic descent”.


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