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National party claims of apartheid ‘outrageous’

National party claims of apartheid ‘outrageous’

The use of the term ‘apartheid’ to describe two Christchurch pre-schools is outrageous, says Associate Maori Affairs and Social Development Minister Tariana Turia.

“Nick Smith said in Parliament today it made him feel sick to see young children ‘drafted by ethnicity’ and ‘fenced off from each other’ in a ‘separatist’ pre-school. It is sickening to hear such distorted views being expressed publicly, and I feel Dr Smith must be sick if that’s what he thinks he saw,” said Mrs Turia.

“Each centre has both Maori and Pakeha children, and children of other nationalities, whose parents are able to choose the language of their children’s education.

“The two centres are separately licensed, but adjacent, so the programmes and activities can enhance each other. There is regular interaction between staff and children that improves learning and respect for diversity. Boundaries are necessary because the safety, security and supervision of the children are the legal responsibility of each centre.

“Nick Smith calls this apartheid. That shows how ignorant he is. Apartheid was the legalised repression by force of a black majority by a powerful white minority. The suggestion that a Maori minority somehow has this country at its mercy reveals a level of paranoia in Mr Smith that may require professional intervention.

“It is disgraceful for a senior MP to deliberately mislead the country with inflammatory language of division, segregation and apartheid, when families of all nationalities and ethnicities are able to enrol their children in whichever centre suits them. The Christchurch Polytechnic has damned his statement, saying he misrepresented the reason for his visit, and failed to clarify any concerns he had.

“I had huge respect for what the National Party government did to promote Kohanga Reo, kura kaupapa Maori and iwi health initiatives, which were recognised twenty years ago as solutions to problems identified by tangata whenua. At the time, it was seen as enabling people to be independent. Now it’s called apartheid!

“The current National Party opposition is resorting to fear tactics to undermine what they started. Nick Smith says he has a very different vision for New Zealand – presumably there would be no such freedom of choice. It’s very sad for them, really,” said Tariana Turia.

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