Racism education initiative backed in BOP

Taika Waititi is helping to spearhead the campaign. Photo. Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand.

A campaign aiming to give teachers the tools and support to identify, confront and dismantle racism has been backed in the Bay of Plenty.

The Unteach Racism initiative has been launched by the Teaching Council this week and has backing from internationally renowned film-maker Taika Waititi.

Developed for teachers and education leaders, the opt-in campaign tries to acknowledge a teacher’s position to lead change and make a difference for children and young people facing prejudice and bias based on ethnicity.

The programme is being backed by Ripeka Lessels, principal of Te Whata Tau o Putauaki in Kawerau.

“The initiative is a long time coming,” says Ripeka.

“The Unteach Racism concept is not about naming and shaming, but about exploring how insidious racism has become in normal everyday practice and helps the user to identify this and suggests tools that may help dismantle the practice.”

Teaching Council chief executive Lesley Hoskin says addressing racism is a journey the entire country is on.

“This isn’t new ground for teachers,” says Lesley.

“Many teachers are already doing so much to celebrate diversity and ensure children and young people feel they belong and are valued, crucial factors for success. Unteach Racism builds on, and supports, this work.”

The campaign supports teachers to continue to grow in their Code of Professional Responsibility Nga Tikanga Matatika commitments to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, social justice, respecting diversity of learners, affirming Maori learners as tangata whenua, and promoting and protecting principles of human rights.

Ripeka believes it is a timely exercise considering the global climate of discussion surrounding race relations and, more specifically in New Zealand, regarding colonial history.

“Some parts of the world have moved on from their colonial ties, but others have only just realised that the impact of racism on a society has produced such inequitable outcomes for the minority.

“In Aotearoa's case, tangata whenua, have suffered from this inequity.”

Unteach Racism is built on the Human Rights Commission’s ‘Give Nothing to Racism’ campaign and features Thor: Ragnarok director Taika, who is also featured in the nation-wide ‘Give Nothing to Racism’ campaign.

Taika invites teachers to “unteach racism” in a video where he tells the story of his own experiences with prejudice at the age of eight.

Young Taika was accused of sniffing glue, stealing lunches with low expectations of his academic ability, particularly in English language, but it was two teachers who convinced him society was wrong.

“As teachers you have the real-life ability to make a difference for kids in the face of racism,” he says in a video.

“You have the power to unteach racism. Will you?”

Having such a prominent figure attached to the initiative is a big boost, Ripeka believes, especially given the Raukokore-born star’s regional ties.

“Taika is the most appropriate person to be fronting this Unteach Racism concept,” says Ripeka.

“He is not just New Zealand renowned, but world renowned and from the little old Bay of Plenty.

“This is his story of how racism impacted his life. His story is one of success despite the racism he faced as a child.

“Some might feel confronted by him, but the concept of Unteach Racism may help people explore those feelings further. He is authentically Aotearoa, and unapologetically Maori.”

An app and a website with online resources is available to support teachers and education leaders to grow their own knowledge and understanding of racism. It includes advice for teachers to self-reflect and gives advice for having frank, open conversations about racism with colleagues.

For Ripeka, the enterprise is seen as a positive way to impact the next generation of New Zealanders to understand the history of Aotearoa.

“Children should know that they can have an authentically New Zealand identity with Maori based on the truth about New Zealand's colonial past,” says Ripeka.

“This is needed before welcoming any other ethnicity to our shared Aotearoa. Embracing this will help them embrace everyone else.”

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@ R. Bell

Posted on 17-05-2021 14:30 | By Yadick

Thank you for my diagnosis. Let’s hope you can do the same for yourself. How can you tell me I REFUSE to see? How dare you. From your very one eyed point of view that may appear the case. You seem very good at picking out bits of comments to strengthen your racial views. My last paragraph tells you categorically that I in fact DO care. Do not see and refuse to see are very different. There is no need for rudeness. Have a great week.

yadick, by your own

Posted on 17-05-2021 13:12 | By R. Bell

admission you "do not see" one reason for that is you refuse to see, another is that you believe we are all the same. Wrong. My first hand experience tells me that many Maori people are uncomfortable with the pakeha dominated system. Why else the Kaupapa initiative at Tauranga hospital. You claim the lack of confidence is not a health care issue. Sorry but that is rubbish. Health care is all about the comfort of the patient. It is beyond any doubt that recovery is far faster when patients are at ease with the environment. Florence Nightingale proved that 150 years ago. But l;et’s face it yadick if you can blame Maori, problem solved, right.

@ R. Bell

Posted on 17-05-2021 08:52 | By Yadick

Be sure it is genuine curiosity. I do not see how Maori health care differs from any other person in the world. We are all ’made up’ the same, we all bleed red, we all work bodily the same way. Perhaps what it comes down to is lifestyle choices. A lack of confidence by Maori is not a health care issue as such. Neither is the myth that our health care system was/is designed by Pakeha for Pakeha. Our health care system is designed for ALL NZers and visitors to our country. The perceived idea that it is discriminative and racially inadequate is blatantly wrong. Maori is entitled to exactly the same standard of care as everyone else and being in the medical business I would be on that band wagon immediately if that was not so.

yadick, not sure

Posted on 16-05-2021 14:17 | By R. Bell

whether your question is genuine curiosity or just another "gotcha question" but here goes. Maori top the statistics in many health areas. Diabetes, heart disease mental health just to name three. One reason is a lack of confidence in the treatment methods designed by pakeha for pakeha. It calls for targeted health care, another problem is cultural difference in how to apply care. Some pakeha see efforts to rectify the damage done as "privilege" when in actual fact the privilege lies with those the system was designed for. Hope this helps.

@ R. Bell

Posted on 16-05-2021 10:31 | By Yadick

How do Maori health needs differ to ’pakeha’?

Any details Bob,

Posted on 16-05-2021 09:04 | By R. Bell

sure can. Generations of marginalisation via destruction of the Maori language, affecting not only the ability to learn but self confidence in most things. Generations of land laws designed to disestablish Maori ownership. Lack of health care specifically designed to target Maori health needs that differ from pakeha needs. All of the above and much more, combine to bring us to today where we have manic opposition to government efforts to reverse the results of those policies. Sadly Bob when people embrace the rhetoric such as ’the race card" "separatism" "huge hand outs to Maori" etc racism is inevitable, and common sense whatever that is cannot solve it.

@ R. Bell

Posted on 15-05-2021 20:31 | By Bob Landy

“rectify the abominable injustice to Maori.” Any details? “deliberately incendiary” Yes, I can see where you’re coming from.


Posted on 15-05-2021 17:48 | By Let's get real

It’s extremely rare to have anyone accept responsibility for their behaviour, actions, lack of education or ability to earn an income.... There’s always something or somebody else to blame. I have been subjected to racist remarks and exclusion because of who or what I am, but of course racism is a one way street and only happens to and not from one group or another. One of the most pathetic responses in the modern era is to play the "race card". Nobody is born racist, it is developed through personal experiences.

There can be

Posted on 15-05-2021 16:25 | By R. Bell

no relief from the endless racism in Nz when people keep harping on about the governments efforts to rectify the abominable injustice to Maori. To classify such assistance as "financial handouts to racial groups" is deliberately incendiary and guaranteed to make the situation much worse. Good luck to Taika, ignore the efforts to deflect that you will no doubt get from the usual sources.

Education is the key

Posted on 15-05-2021 14:46 | By Kancho

I probably can swap stories of inequities , poverty, and discrimination, and petty crime but I was a little white kid . I struggled at school being from a large poor family and sick father. I relied on milk and food from the school too. I do remember a couple of teachers spending one on one time during the breaks to help me. So similar but not a race thing.

More PC Nonsense

Posted on 15-05-2021 14:41 | By Bob Landy

“ A campaign aiming to give teachers the tools and support to identify, confront and dismantle racism has been backed in the Bay of Plenty.” Do teachers not come with common sense these days?

Great initiative, but.....

Posted on 15-05-2021 12:07 | By The Professor

.....will such initiatives bring an end to huge financial handouts to racial groups in New Zealand? Racism and inequality applies across all races.

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