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No prestige In Trying To Hide Poverty

No prestige In Trying To Hide Poverty

Hone Harawira, MANA Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau
28 March 2014

“When so-called iwi leaders condemn teachers for daring to highlight the massive failings of the New Zealand education system for Maori children in case the Minister of Education might be embarrassed, then they show themselves up as a sad and pathetic group for whom the warm embrace of government has become more important than the needs of their own children and grandchildren.”

“Just who the hell do they think they are, trying to hide the truth of New Zealand’s failed policies just because the international community is in town?”

“Do these iwi leaders want to hide the fact that we have 285,000 children living in poverty in this country and that 100,000 of them are going to school hungry every single day?”

“Do they actually think we should be shying away from the fact that we have tens of thousands of children suffering from epidemic levels of third world diseases like rheumatic heart disease?”

“Do they truly believe that it reduces our prestige as a people to let the world know that things aren’t all rosy in the ‘land of the long white cloud’?

“Do they not want anyone to know that it is their own Maori children who are suffering the most, that we have thousands of Maori families living in grinding poverty, and that homelessness, joblessness and a bleak future is all many will have to wake up to tomorrow?”

“Do they think we should be hiding what the world already knows – that children from low income homes achieve significantly less than those from wealthier homes?”

“Do they think teachers should not have the right to point out what is already internationally proven – that child poverty and inequality are the biggest hurdles to learning success?”

“And honestly - do they really believe that the truth will harm the prestige of a Minister of Education just because she is Maori?”

“My god … have our iwi leaders become so servile and sycophantic that they would rather put on a smiley face for the world while our children are starving?”

“I am gutted that people who purport to represent Maori people could be so bloody selfish and blind, and I urge them to face up to the realities and demand concrete action to eliminate child poverty in this land of enormous wealth.”

“There may be ‘nicer’ settings for teachers to advocate for underpaid teaching support staff, and to highlight the fact that addressing poverty and inequality is absolutely critical to improving academic success, but the truth there is no nice time to talk about low pay and poverty, and so I support their stand today during the International Summit on Education, tomorrow after everyone has gone home, and every day after that until we have won the fight for our children to be fed at schools, for our families to be provided with a decent living income, and for jobs for all who are able to work.”


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