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Zoning policy backfires on Maori and P. Islanders

Nick Smith National Education Spokesperson

4 February 2002

Zoning policy backfires on Maori and Pacific Islanders

Maori and Pacific Island students are being driven out of top schools by the Government's absurd zoning law which advantages wealthy families who can buy houses in the right street, says National's Education spokesperson Nick Smith.

"For example, Year 9 enrolments at Auckland Grammar this year show a 36 percent drop in the number of Maori students, and a 35 percent drop in the number of Pacific Island students. Asian enrolments are up by 77 percent as wealthy migrant families deliberately rent or buy in the Auckland Grammar zone.

"Bright and talented Maori and Pacific Island students used to be able to excel at schools like Auckland Grammar. They are now locked out by new laws which give parents with big chequebooks, and an eye for real estate, preference. And this is happening at top schools throughout the country.

"This new law is proving to be a winner for real estate agents and new migrants at the expense of ordinary New Zealand families striving for a top education. It is backfiring badly on the very people Labour and the Alliance claim to represent.

"There will always be a dilemma about who gets into top schools. The problem with the Government's rigid approach is that the same regime is imposed on every school in the country, rather than trusting local communities to develop local solutions. It is far more equitable to have students selected on the basis of academic achievement where, regardless of wealth, they can strive to gain entry.

"The new law is a nightmare for schools because it is so open to manipulation. As families need only rent in-zone for a few weeks to gain permanent enrolment, families are playing musical houses to get entry to the school they want, and the schools are powerless to stop it.

"National warned the Government this law would backfire and create an administrative fiasco. A National Government will repeal this daft law and replace it with legislation that gives school communities far more say in managing enrolments," says Dr Smith.


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