Racism in the tertiary education sector.

Hau Taki Haere | Tertiary Update Vol 28, No 04

A new State of the Sector report, by Dr Charles Sedgwick and Eliza de Waal, commissioned by Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union, outlines the impact of sustained institutional racism and discrimination across Aotearoa New Zealand’s tertiary education sector.

The report, entitled ‘Māori employees in the tertiary sector – Survey results and document reviews from 1994 to 2022’, focuses on the perceptions and experiences of kaimahi Māori.

It asserts that Māori in tertiary education face a double burden in their working day – institutionally imposed responsibility for te reo and tikanga, as well as their ‘primary’ work as academic and general staff. And that they are rarely compensated for the cultural and emotional labour.

As one Māori survey participant stated, “I’m not valued by my management by paying me my worth!! I’ve been carrying my dept. for years in the world of mātauranga Māori!”

The study also reports a shortage of Māori staff in the sector. Another Māori participant illustrates this point by saying “we do not have enough Māori lecturers in our particular School, despite the strong need with regard to our external programme approval requirements. This means that Māori staff are overworked, in a dial-a-Māori scenario.”

When asked if they experienced racism in their institutions, 11 percent of Māori general staff and 27% of academic staff in universities, and 14% of Māori general staff and 22% of academics in polytechnics, experienced discrimination because they are Māori.

A participant says “we have taken a hollow ritualistic approach to cultural issues. Lots of nice emails with Māori greetings, but no real cultural changes to a more participative and collectivist way of running the university. The language stuff is easy, but the culture change stuff is much harder.”

TEU Tumu Whakarae Māori | National President Māori Hūhana Wātene agrees. “Many institutions in our sector use te reo slogans/signage and espouse Māori values. Therefore, it is incumbent upon those institutions to address issues pertaining to Māori, Kaiako, Akonga and their communities – it is no longer acceptable to allow tokenistic practices.”

“This report is confronting, it clearly identifies inequitable funding, staffing, and cultural practices from reports and research dating from as early as 1885 through to 2022.”

Tumu Whakarae Tiriti | National President Tiriti Dr Julie Douglas says “Tangata Tiriti must stand together with Māori to ensure we take action on what Māori need and want. We strongly urge all in the tertiary education sector – staff, students, and leadership teams – as well as education ministers and political party spokespeople to take the time to read, reflect, and act on this report.”

The report is available on request. TEU members can email teu@teu.ac.nz for a copy. Media should contact enzo.giordani@teu.ac.nz.

Also in this update:

Other Stories:

Massey University loss not as bad as once feared – Stuff

Te Pūkenga head office likely to be cut, some institutions to merge – The Post

Waitangi Tribunal approves application for urgent inquiry into government's te reo Māori policies – RNZ

Public investment in New Zealand fails to meet growing need – CTU