A study into attitudes towards ethnicity among year-nine pupils at five Auckland multi-ethnic schools shows the results of 30 years of race-based affirmative action. While international research has shown dominant cultures feel positive about their identity, which linked to how well they did at school, here, it was the opposite.
The Auckland University study published in the New Zealand Journal of Psychology involved 695 pupils at schools with decile rankings ranging from three to nine who were asked anonymously to describe what they liked or disliked about being Maori, New Zealand European, Chinese or Samoan.
Here are the results:
BEING NEW ZEALAND EUROPEAN
Pros: Part of majority group, feel normal and blend in, not stereotyped and targeted for racism, like being a New Zealander.
Cons: Unfair reputation of being racist, teased for being white, guilty about past, frustration with being boring.
Pros: Feel proud about being tangata whenua, have own language, oral traditions and kapa haka.
Cons: Mocked and negatively stereotyped, people think you are dumb and will drop out of school, media shows Maori as violent or criminal.
Pros: Culture is celebrated at events like Pasifika festival, there is a strong emphasis on family and values, have own language.
Cons: Expectations to act like "gangsters," or be dumb and "fresh off the boat." Strict culture and always have to hang out with family.
BEING CHINESEResearcher Dr Melinda Webber said the study highlighted the importance of parents speaking to kids about their racial identity, and teachers confronting the topic.
Pros: Have very different culture, delicious food, a rich heritage, and focus on education and achievement.
Cons: Stereotyped as "brainy" and one-dimensional, being "dissed" about driving and eating cats and dogs. Strict parents. (1)
However, whatever parents and teachers say would be swamped by the requirements and conduct of government departments.
White-guilt social studies is taught at school, race-based funding and course placings are available in tertiary education, there are cultural safety requirements in government departments, race-based preferential treatment exists in welfare and housing, and Maori protocol has become the de facto state religious ritual.
An interesting point is that Chinese people are reputedly the highest achievers in New Zealand while receiving the least help and face the most prejudice, but Hong Kong tops an intolerance list, with 71.8 percent of the population saying they would refuse to live next to someone of a different race. (2)
NOTE: The study used the term "pakeha" instead of "New Zealand European".
1. Teen study finds discrimination is widespread, The Dominion Post, September 19, 2013. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/9192830/Teen-study-finds-discrimination-is-widespread
2. Survey exposes 'most racist' countries, http://tvnz.co.nz/world-news/survey-exposes-most-racist-countries-5439765