Thursday, May 14, 2009

Maori Television and startling sentiments

From time to time I watch Maori Television. The quality is often above anything else on offer. People have serious and extended discussions about matters, something that has disappeared from other channels. Last night I watched a conversation about education, kura kaupapa, children's needs, the lack of fathers, furthering Maoritanga, etc. The discussion featured two Maori teachers (who may have been principals) from Maori immersion schools. The subtitles are good though I sometimes wonder how closely they represent what is said given the Maori language is comparatively constrained in terms of expressing complex or subtle concepts.

Towards the end of the programme the interviewer made a statement to the effect that the large majority, eighty percent I think he said, of Maori children were still in the mainstream system and asked about the implications of that. The first respondent said that their spirit wasn't attended to in the Pakeha system, language and culture being a big part of spirit. Fair enough I thought. Then the second respondent said, more or less, some would be OK, but that Pakeha teachers don't like Maori children. Aye, the other nodded.

It was there in the subtitles. Pakeha teachers don't like Maori children.

I expect this would have come as a terrific surprise and been very hurtful to many Pakeha teachers. What did she base this statement on? Was it a generalisation or a statement of fact, in her mind? And is this the view these two ladies take to their own teaching and propagate to their students?

My strongest reaction was to the racism it revealed. But I forget Maori cannot by definition be racist because they are the oppressed people. Only oppressors can be racist.

It was a sad end to an otherwise instructive and enlightening programme.


Redbaiter said...

Maori Televison is a racist entity. It should not exist, and it wouldn't if this country was half civilized and not politically and socially dominated by knuckle dragging socialist barbarians.

Libertyscott said...

Quite simply it should be privatised and left to fund itself. Then most of the time it would run a satellite feed from something from overseas, with a couple of hours of cheaply made programming a day - but at least everyone else wouldn't be forced to pay for it.

Neil said...

Commenters miss the point of Lindsay's issue. It is not about the value of taxpayer funded Maori TV. The scary issue she raises is that racism in fact works both ways. I think the worst racism I have experienced is from Japanese people and that is not about oppression. (at least not of NZers).
The assumption that Pakeha teachers do not like Maori children is just as wrong. I have seen it but also seen teachers make excuses (subtle paternlism) and teachers that just love their Maori pupils for the different perspectives and diversity they bring. Racism is grounded in fear and in generalisation. Lindsay's school principal is neither she is just a determined player in the game of social politics and extracting the maximum of unearned advantage. Recognise it and ignore it we have a bigger game to play in protecting peace and opportunity in NZ.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Thanks Neil.The remark was the central point. As for Maori TV funding - well I figure if I watch it, I am helping lift ratings and therefore the potential revenue from advertising thus assisting it to becoming a profit making entity:-)

Anonymous said...

There are many "teachers" working in the Maori system who lack even the most basic qualifacations if equated to mainstream education.
They acquire their positions based on their family and tribal ties.
To challenge this situation is to be labeled racist and ignorant of Maori asperations.


luggage79 said...

"The subtitles are good though I sometimes wonder how closely they represent what is said given the Maori language is comparatively constrained in terms of expressing complex or subtle concepts."

Erm - as a linguist I'm getting interested. In what way is Maori "constrained" in expressing complex or subtle concepts?

Lindsay Mitchell said...

The alphabet is smaller and number of words far fewer.

Maori didn't have a written language before the colonists arrived. Roughly speaking their language has only been written for around 200 years. So there isn't a long history of the written language evolving or being influence by other languages.

Having said that, Maori express concepts that we struggle to find English words to adequately describe.

Language isn't an area I am very knowledgeable about but I think this is fairly accurate.

Anonymous said...

Pakeha teachers don't like Maori children.

You are one of those pakeha dumbo's. Read the research and find out before you go crying racist. Look on website. Better still do your own research and find out before you go sprouting that mouth off and calling people racist.

No wonder Maori kids in mainstream schools fails. The pakehas really have no clue!