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Don't sanitise our history, warns Metiria

20 February, 2004

Don't sanitise our history, warns Metiria

Green MP Metiria Turei said today that the abrupt pulling down of a Treaty of Waitangi education website was an attempt to sanitise New Zealand history.

Metiria, the Green spokesperson for Maori Affairs, said the racial tension of recent weeks proved the need for a comprehensive Treaty education programme.

"New Zealand history has been completely misrepresented for shallow political gain and the government's response has been weak," said Metiria.

"The website would not have been allowed to go live in the first place if it was full of inaccuracies - this is an obvious attempt to sanitise the information for the benefit of rednecks.

"Never before has there been such a need for New Zealanders to be aware of our shared history. If we continue to ignore the truth we are on the fast-track to deep racially-based divisions in our society."

However, Metiria urged that the $6 million allocated to treaty education be spent more wisely.

"The website was fundamentally wrong from the start," said Metiria. "A website is not of any use to anybody because it is too passive - learning is achieved through questioning information, not just absorbing it.

"The money could have been better spent on resourcing the already-established treaty education network that is reaching out to the Pakeha community. This $6 million couldn't even buy good public relations.

"We need to focus on active participation in education through workshops and public meetings, for example.

"People need to learn about our collective history rather than the media-based history that gives the impression that all Maori do is complain to collect preferential treatment.

"It's time this changed so we can ward off the racially-charged Cyclone Don of misinformation sweeping through Aotearoa New Zealand."


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