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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 6. 1962.

Pay Up or Admit Prejudice — The Case Against M.E.F

page 6

Pay Up or Admit Prejudice

The Case Against M.E.F.

Recently all publicity media have been saturated with emotional appeals to your pride and your purse, on behalf of the current campaign for the Maori Eduction Foundation. You have been subjected to a deliberate distortion of the situation from which the campaign arises. This article is written, not to invalidate the need for a solution but to present a more balanced perspective of the problem.

For:

(Quoted from M.E.F. propaganda) "The Foundation is an independent statutory authority jointly managed by Maori and pakeka trustees. Its objects are to foster post-primary technical and university education, and trade and vocational training among the Maori people. It aims to raise Maori educational standards to equal those of the pakeha. If racial relations were to deteriorate through a weakness in Maori educational standards we should have a grave national problem. All New Zealanders can help avert such a possibility by supporting the campaign."

"Because New Zealanders traditionally stand for racial equality it is fell that the Foundation will have a strong public appeal. Now is your chance to have a stake in it by supporting the Maori Education Foundation. It has the full support of both Parliamentary parties."

Against:

The really basic issue, which has been deliberately glossed over is this: the Maori people have a right to equality of educational opportunity. and if this right is not being met then it is the duty of the Government to finance remedies. It should not be financed by the voluntary contributions of private individuals.

During a recent discussion on M.E.F. Mr. Hunn, Secretary for Maori Affairs, and a member of the M.E.F. Board of Trustees, admitted this, but said. "The Government is not willing to foot the bill. Meanwhile something must be done." No wonder the M.E.F. has "the full support of both Parliamentary parties!"

If (to quote the pamphlet again) "New Zealanders traditionally stand for racial equality" why has the Government allowed the following disgraceful situation to eventuate: "Income per head in each Maori household is less than half the income per head in each pakeha household. Approximately one-third of Maori houses are overcrowded and substandard?"

Also, why has it taken until 1962 for the public to realise what has been happening to the Maori people since the Treaty of Waitangi.

Apartheid

The whole campaign is redolent of latent apartheid sentiment. The average white New Zealander has always been placidly indifferent to the Maori people. Occasionally some illustrious Maori will come into the limelight, e.g., Maori soldiers in the World Wars. Maori footballers, Maoris outstanding in the fields of art, science, writing, politics, etc., but after the first pleasant little glow of national fellowship the average Kiwi sinks back to apathy.

Suddenly, instead of the terms "New Zealander" and "Kiwi" we hear the old terms "Maori" and "Pakeha." We hear phrases such as "raising the Maori to the pakeha level" or, worse still "raising the Maori to our level."

We hear of cases like the recent problem in Auckland, where three teachers, one a Maori, under the South Auckland Education Board, applied for leave to tour Australia as sports representatives. The Maori was refused leave, but went anyway, was injured early in the season and returned home—to no job. The other two teachers completed the tour, and returned to find their jobs waiting for them.

Colour Bar in Hotel

Or again, in Whangarei a week or so ago, a Maori jockey who is well-respected in the Waikato and two friends arranged accommodation at a hotel. When they went in to finalise matters the person receiving guests apologised but said that they could not provide accommadation for the Maori jockey in the party. They were told—"We cater for Europeans only."

Recently in a local theatre Wellington audiences were shown a film which wasted twenty minutes explaining that Maoris aren't so very different from us! The effect was to give birth to an uneasy feeling that somewhere there were differences that weren't being mentioned. Apartheid is among us already!

Insidiously the formerly apathetic Kiwiis learning that he is on the brink of racial intolerance. The M.E.F. pamphlet tells us, "If racial relations were to deteriorate . . . we should have a grave national problem." In other words "Pay up or admit y u are prejudiced." The fact of the matter is that we already have a grave national problem caused, not by colourprejudice, but by Government negligence in the past, and public apathy.

M.E.F. Promotes Integration

All this is raising another big problem. The M.E.F. campaign is a big step towards full integration of the two cultures. Is cither culture inferior to the other? Should either culture dominate the other to the point of complete assimilation? Is full integration desirable? Many progressive thinkers from both cultures do not consider it so, and their opinions are not colour-biased either.

The last major objection to the M.E.F. campaign concerns the distribution of funds. Quoting Mr Hunn, April 20, 1962: "Our policy has not yet been determined. We are waiting till the Board of Trustees is complete." (Of the 8 members on the Board, 2 have not yet been appointed). Surely the Board should have been complete, and the distribution policy decided upon before the launching of the campaign?

Will the money go to scholarships for top-level I.Q. children? If so, how does this benefit the bulk of the Maori people? What happens to these scholarship children? Cut off by education from their natural environment, will they become just mediocre imitation pakehas?

Will funds be used to further housing in poor areas, and is this justified considering how the funds were raised? Which comes first-improvement of the economic condition of the Maori people, or improvement of the educational standard?

Policy Re Funds

Does the following case indicate future M.E.F. policy? Earlier this year the M.E.F. assisted a Maori married man, the father of three children, by paying his University fees in two subjects. The man already had a fulltime job, and a 3-hour part time job. What time would such a man have for University study?

Finally, is it wise to let a great part of the M.E.F. resources stagnate by a policy of capital endowment? Would it not be better to spend the capital and then subject the Government to shouldering the burden of further grants?

Think it over!