(This post is solely based on my observations and limited research.)
There is a wide gap between European white, Maori and Polynesian peoples in New Zealand. These three groups are the largest racial groupings here. The gap is economic, educational and in health. European whites tend to have more money, more educated and more healthy than the other two.
Because of this problem the government has been doing a lot of affirmative action like programs to close the gaps between the the three groups.
There is a big push to close the education gaps especially for Maori, the Tangata Whenua (people of the land). There is Te Mana, an initiative of the state to encourage more people of Maori heritage to enter and finish tertiary education. Te Mana is sending a message that Maori can and do acheive. The programme includes television advertisements of successful Maori men and women who finished a tertiary qualification and are now enjoying a better life. (My favourite success story of all is that of Annabelle Whaanga cleaner turned corporate communications advisor. Before she can only buy one toilet paper roll at a time now who knows what she can buy?) There are also various scholarship granting agencies funded by the government specifically for Maori.
For Pacifica peoples they are also given some preference in entering universities and polytechs. They also have access to scholarship and bursary schemes but they are not as prominent (advertised) as the Maori programmes but also funded by the government.
Critics of the programmes say that the government is giving too much to these people. Non-Maori or Pacific Islander residents and citizens of New Zealand have to take out a tuition fee and living cost loan (yes, borrowing to live).
As they say, the jury is still out on the overall success of these education schemes.
Next time I shall tell about the initiatives to close gaps in health.
Filed under: Letters from New Zealand |