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Youth Member: Education - Marginalising Maori

The New Zealand Education System: Marginalising Maori Potential

Mania Campbell-Seymour; Youth Member of Parliament for Waiariki

General Debate; 9 July 2007

Ka tangi te titi, ka tangi te kaka ka tangi hoki ahau…

The current statistics for Maori school leavers is that an alarming 53% of Maori students continue to leave secondary school with no formal qualification, a mere 23% leave school with level 3 NCEA (Hui Taumata Mätauranga 2006 Government Report).

Considering the billions of dollars invested in education over the last century, the question begs to be asked. Who’s accountable for so much unrealised Mäori potential? How can a system pay itself so well for such unacceptable results for Maori students?

If we look at the origins of our current education system, it descends directly from Plato’s Ideal. This system had open entry, but it quickly became highly selective with only a few receiving its benefits. The few who would govern the rest! Where there’s a place for everyone and everyone knowing their place. Quite obviously marginalising Maori to an inferior position.

(1972: 21) Paulo Freire quotes; “The oppressor cannot find in their power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both”.

Hence the Matauranga Maori initiatives; Te Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa, Wharekura, Rumaki and Special Character Schools. (Case study: hui Taumata Matauranga Report 2006).

Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga based in Huntly: this decile one wharekura success shows between 80- 90% of all senior graduates go on to tertiary education after leaving kura. Obviously this wharekura has created an environment that promotes achievement and excellence based on te reo me ona tikanga.

This is a fine example of the benefits of Matauranga Maori and Maori determining their destiny in education. When you compare national statistics for Maori in education and the results from Rakaumangamanga they speak for themselves.

Re-indigenising Maori is a necessary process to ensure we liberate ourselves from this current marginalised position. Realising the potential of Maori would benefit all New Zealand. The challenge for those in Government and positions of power in education is to heed the words of Paulo Freire.

Waiho ma te Maori te Maori e aratakinga, he oranga mo te katoa.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatau katoa.


Mania Campbell-Seymour is a descendant of Te Whakatohea, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, Te Whanau-a-Kai and Ngati Kahungunu. She lives at Torere and attends Opotiki College where she is the Deputy Girls Head Prefect.

Mania is the Waiariki Representatives for the fifth Aotearoa Youth Parliament; 8th - 11th July; in Wellington.


Bishop R, Glynn T (1999) Culture counts: changing power relations in education. Dunmore Press.

Bishop R, Shields C M (2005) Pathologising Practices: The impact of deficit thinking on education. Peter Lang Publishers.

Durie, Mason. 2006. Hui Matauranga V Taupo Whanau, Education, and Maori Potential.

Gilbert, Jane (2005). Catching the Knowledge Wave: The knowledge society and the future of education. NZCER Press.

Hui Taumata Matauranga. Government Report Back October 2006. Ministry of Education 2006.

Interview: Campbell, S. 5 July 2007. Tumuaki, Te Kura o Torere Section 156 Special Character.


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