Stuff reports, "A former Labour government Māori Affairs Minister, Dover Samuels, is renewing calls for Māori to receive an official apology from the Crown, for the generation who were beaten for speaking te reo in school. He said he and other students were caned when he attended the Waiharara Native School at Matauri Bay in Northland in the 1940s, when they spoke te reo Māori." See HERE >>>
On this one Dover may have a point. I say that from experience, as I too have suffered the trauma of corporal punishment, not for speaking te reo Maori, but something much worse: speaking my mind.
The incident was in the early 1960s. I can’t be more specific than that as my subconscious has blocked out the dates. I do know it was at Kamo Primary school, a fairly typical school in a fairly typical suburb in Whangarei. The school was not far from where I lived with my parents, two brothers, and a dog named Rough.
I can't recall the teacher's name, Miss something. For convenience, I will refer to her as Miss Frumpy. She was a pleasant enough person, most of the time, except when she had a strap in her hand. Perhaps life was a bit too much for her and she just needed to take it out on someone, I don't know and how could I as a six or seven-year-old. What I do know is that one day I became the focus of her attention, apparently for saying something I shouldn't.
I suffered the humiliation of being ordered to the front of the class, where Miss Frumpy duly inflicted the punishment of a strap to the legs. My attempt to jump the strap as the blow was being administered worked for the first pass, but not the second and third swipes after she held me by the arm, which technically is assault. Even now, after all of these years, some nights I lie awake and can feel the sting. Sometimes I get pins and needles in my legs. I still think of Miss Frumpy and her strap every time I drive past that school. The school dental clinic also brings back memories but that's another apology for another day.
An apology from the Crown for the suffering they have caused me by giving Miss Frumpy a strap would go a long way to assisting my recovery and more so if there were some monetary compensation attached. Let's first get an apology from the Crown for punishing those who speaking te reo and then one for those punished for speaking their mind.
Frank Newman, a political commentator and investment analyst, is a former local body councillor.