Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 37, Number 1. 6th March 1974
Every few days on one or other of the talk-back radio programmes a speaker with something to say about race relations is featured. And every day as a result, callers chip in their two cents worth on the topic. Many of them make worthwhile comments, but almost all of them incorporate racial stereotyping in their remarks. In the last few weeks I've heard on the radio and elsewhere Maoris described as lacking ambition and initiative, irresponsible, having a tendency to obesity, having a poor work record, and so on. A few positive stereotypes crop up Maoris are cheerful, care about their aged relatives, are often courageous, etc.
Where do these and other common stereotypes originate? Partly they come from careless conversational language. People typically try to describe an individual in terms of the group they associate him with, and conversely they describe groups in terms of the individuals they know within the group. But certain agencies in society seem to be actively promoting racial stereotypes. The most glaring example of such an agency in New Zealand is the daily press.
Gone are the days of bold headlines directly linking Maoris with negative news like assaults and murders. Public protest has made daily papers slightly more watchful about including race in headlines of court news. Not so Truth—a recent (6.1.73) headline over a rape story for instance had inch high letters saying "Struggle in the Mud with Amorous Islanders." We're all islanders, actually, but usage in conversation and in the press gives negative connotations to people who once came from certain small Pacific islands, and they suffer unnecessarily because of this usage.
While mindful of Maoris the Evening Post let slip their bias against Arabs on 24.11.73 with a headline "Fight not over yet, Hiss Arabs". Fortunately people complained, and soon after the Post printed an apology, going as far as to admit that there was nothing in the actual story to warrant the headline. Of course, they didn't apologise for their basic prejudice and deliberate negative stereotyping of Arabs.
The NZ Race Relations Council jumped on them, saying 'Even if it were true the naming of the race of the culprit serves no useful purpose whatever, is quite irrelevant to the news item and can only serve to arouse ill feelings against Maoris in general. But it was false. It was revealed later (but not reported in the Sunday Times) that the person referred to in this article was not a Maori at all, but was ¾ European and ¼ Samoan.'