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Apartheid pre-school horrifies National

Apartheid pre-school horrifies National

The National Party Education spokesman is alarmed by what he describes as New Zealand's first apartheid pre-school, saying it's another example of confused thinking over the Treaty of Waitangi.

"It made me feel sick as a New Zealander," says Dr Nick Smith, after paying a personal visit to the Christchurch Polytechnic Early Learning Centre this week.

"I was horrified to see young children drafted by ethnicity and fenced off from each other all day - it reminded me of my visit last year to the Johannesburg Apartheid Museum.

"I cringe at the message we are giving these young impressionable minds at their first encounter with state education.

"Separatist education is no way in which to build a sense of national unity and understanding among cultures," says Dr Smith.

The new $880,000 Centre is built in two near identical halves, consisting of the Te Waka Huruhurumanu Ki Otautahi, which opened in January, and the Christchurch Polytechnic Childcare Centre, which transferred from an older building last April.

The two centres share administration, staffroom and reception space, but the children's areas are completely separated.

"It's ironic adults working at the Centre share a staffroom, when the children have segregated learning, playing, toileting and sleeping areas.

"It's also ironic that the non-Maori Child Care Centre provides a high level of content in Maori song and language, but the children are prevented from playing with Maori children a few metres away.

"This is a monument to political correctness over the Treaty gone wrong.

"That it has been built by a state tertiary institution at taxpayers' expense shows the depth of confusion in Government over the Treaty of Waitangi.

"If children are to be separated at birth, where is the limit to this Government's separatist biculturalism?

"National has a very different vision for New Zealand. We want an education system that respects all, particularly indigenous Maori culture, but which builds a sense of national unity and New Zealand citizenship.

"I challenge the polytechnic to reintegrate this centre and for Government to ensure this is the first and last apartheid pre-school in New Zealand," says Dr Smith.

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