The Tory Templar | Issue 6

On Maori Culture in Education

A case is currently in front of the Waitangi Tribunal looking into the running of Maori-language preschools. These centres claim they need more funding and separate legislation to ensure that the language survives. This raises an interesting question Ė what role should Maori language and culture play in our school system, if any?

No doubt Maori culture should and does have a place in New Zealandís society, but whether that place should be secured by legislation is doubtful. The protection of Maori language and customs should be the responsibility of Maori communities and families, just as religion is. If we are going to ensure that the school system officially incorporates Maori into mainstream teaching then surely the teaching of religious education should stretch beyond the boundaries of Catholic schools?

The Templar thinks that if you are going to go about making less than a fifth of your population a central part of your education system, then the 2/3 of New Zealanders who identify as being religious deserve to have religious education legislated into the system too. Somehow I see this being controversial and that is the problem. At what point should government interfere to protect minority customs in general education? Put simply, itís not the governmentís job to dictate what culture should be favoured over another. It never has been and should never be.

The place for education of Maori culture should be in history and social studies classes. Beyond that the establishment of specific after-school programmes that teach the customs and language of Maori is far more likely to succeed than forcing schools to teach it to kids who simply donít want to learn. If families then choose to emerge their children in Maori culture they have the option too, free from state intervention. After all our culture comes from our home, our family, and our beliefs, all of which should be free from the meddling of the state, as long as we are not harming others.

The Templar is sick and tired of the governmentís pandering to such a small minority merely because of past wrongs. The purpose of the Waitangi Tribunal should not be as a forum for lobbying government. Preserving Maori culture is the responsibility of Whanau and Iwi, not the job of the state. If it becomes such then every culture under the sun should have a right to see its customs made part of the education system.

- The Tory Templar
This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2012.
Posted 7:07pm Sunday 1st April 2012 by The Tory Templar.