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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 7. 1962.

Support and Security for Maori Students — The Case for M.E.F

Support and Security for Maori Students

The Case for M.E.F.

Articles appearing in Salient V and VI have protested, one emotionally, the other dispassionately, against the concept of the Maori Education Foundation.

This Foundation, as such, has no intention of usurping Governmental policy for Maori Education. Rather, the Foundation seeks to provide the means for Maoris generally to take advantage of educational opportunities already available to them in the way of Post Primary education followed by Scholarships, Bursaries and the like.

The Foundation is the logical outcome of years of endeavour by Maori and Pakeha leaders. They have been concerned with what, by European standards and conditions, is a regrettable tendency on the part of the majority of Maoris a lack of ambition for higher learning, higher status and higher class.

Little Minds

The Foundation is being criticised by a large number of people, the majority of whom are those with the "little minds" associated with segregation movements, those who will under no circumstances befriend a Maori because in their opinion they belong to the "lower order" in race relationships. The criticism is that the Foundation is paying too much attention to the Maori people, that the Foundation has been organised to disguise Governmental deficiencies in educational policy concerning the Maoris, and that the Foundation generally is, another method by which the general public might be mulcted of more money to provide for a select section of the community.

The second area of criticism comes from those who have the welfare of the Maori people at heart and who believe that the Foundation while a good and necessary aid, is going about the matter in entirely the wrong way.

The answers to these criticisms are not easy. As far as the "little" people are concerned, if they could not moan about the Maori Education Foundation then they would find something else about which to moan and their primary trouble is apathy, more specifically a hand out for what can be got, not a hand giving what less fortunate people need.

Those people who have travelled through the Maori areas of Gisborne and Hamilton, down the lower reaches of the Waikato and into the Urewera from Whakatane will know of the great crying need for Maori leaders with brains and initiative to improve conditions generally. Not only in the areas mentioned, but also in many other parts of the country does this problem exist.

Special Schools

Under the Education Act (1908) the Minister for Education was directed to establish schools to cater for Maori pupils on a broader basis than the normal state school. These schools taught health hygiene, nutrition, and a wider selection of home crafts than the state schools in an effort to raise the standard of living in the homes by educational means.

There are at the moment (1962) about 200 of these schools still being administered by the Education Department. As far as Government policy is concerned, ample opportunities are available throughout the Education Held for advancement of Maori scholars. Specific educational grants are provided by, among others:

  • Maori Purposes Fund
  • Maori Trust Boards
  • Ngarimu (VC) Fund
  • A. T. Ngata Memorial Fund

The Maori Education Foundation has been established, not to compete with the existing grants organisations but to provide economic security to enable a Maori scholar to remain at school in an effort to complete study scholarships and bursaries. As has been stated already a Maori youth will leave school at the age of fifteen to reduce family expense and to increase family income.

M.E.F. Policy

While as yet, there has been no firm policy decided upon by the Foundation trustees, there is the general feeling that the function of the Foundation will be to provide the economic balance in a Maori family, increasing bursary and scholarship income so that there need be no expense on the part of the family in keeping pupils at school.

The Foundation was established specifically to increase support for present bursary and scholarship schemes and in a manner similar to Heritage to organise support both moral and spiritual that a Maori scholar will need, especially at University level.

An equally important function of the Foundation is to combat parental ignorance and apathy, prejudice against Maoris by employers and the Europeans' ignorance of Maori culture and personality.