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Liberty Belle 10 June 2005

Liberty Belle 10 June 2005

Deborah Coddington's Liberty Belle

The lunacy sightings keep flowing in. Last week a friend went to the creche to drop off his little ones. A big two-year-old boy was crying his eyes out because he’d banged his head. As kids do. The cre`che worker leaned over him and said, “I can’t pick you up Freddy, ACC won’t pay out”. My friend asked her what she meant and she answered, “I can’t pick up any child who weighs more than 15kgs because if I hurt myself, ACC won’t cover it”.

As my friend pointed out, the kiddie doesn’t know this. He’s not privy to ACC rules so he just carries right on crying. Creche worker carries right on bending over the child trying to soothe him. He won’t be placated but at least ACC is happy.

Now this from the father of an 11-year-old boy who brought home the sample answer sheet for the Australasian Schools Science Competition. One question on the form prompted the boy to ask, “Dad, are Maori not as smart as Pakeha?” The question was one of three seeking personal details. First two questions asked for gender to be specified, and whether any other language apart from English was spoken at home. The third question, however, asked if the student is of Maori descent. Why was this important in an Australasian exam? This clearly sends a message to children that there is a difference in people’s intelligence when it comes to ethnic background. There is nothing ethnically about Maori that make them any less intelligent than non- Maori and to imply as much is an insult.

When these papers are marked, do Maori get special marking, given that according to the racial segregation of the issue, Maori are not in the mainstream and need special help as they are not as clever as the other kids?

The father who sent this exam paper to me finds this question offensive. He believes it promotes racism in schools and wanted to explain to his son that “Maori ARE as smart as everyone else and there would be a valid reason for the inclusion of this question in a competition representative of the level playing field we all seek”. But Dad didn’t have an answer for his son. Do you?

Yours in liberty,

Deborah Coddington


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