The Ministry of Education has prohibited an Instagram account from using its logo on stories posted to raise awareness of racism experienced in New Zealand schools
Instagram account @ngati_frybread recently asked their almost 10,000 followers to share their experiences of racism at school. The account received over 1000 replies.
They then reposted the responses on their Instagram story along with a picture of the Ministry of Education logo.
The owner of the account, who wished to remain anonymous, said they used the logo to call out the Ministry of Education for ignoring its systematic racism.
"I wanted to name and shame the Ministry of Education for the system of traumatisation and marginalisation they're operating. I thought it was pertinent to use their logo," they said.
Responses shared included stories of Māori and Pasifika students being told by teachers 'not to bother' with school as they will just end up on the dole, or that they were only in top classes to provide diversity.
"It ranges from minor interpersonal racism in a classroom to things like uplifting Māori and Pasifika principals and putting in Pakeha principals that have no history of education," they said.
In response, the Ministry of Education contacted them via direct message asking them to take the stories down as using the logo was a breach of copyright.
In the message, the Ministry acknowledged racism exists in the New Zealand education system before asking the stories to be deleted as they contain its logo.
@ngati_frybread has seen the use of the ministry's logo all over Facebook without permission and believes it's more interested in preserving its image than a copyright breach.
"I think it was to do with their public image, I don't think it had much to do with copyright law."
Copyright lawyer Kate McHaffie says that while copyright works of the crown are generally available for people to use without permission, government logos aren't.
"The direction from the government which you see consistently on government websites is that government logos must not be used without permission."
@ngati_frybread knows legally they can't use the logo but stands by their decision.
"Legally I might be wrong, but morally I feel like I'm in the right putting the name of the oppressor beside the people they are oppressing," they said.
They want the Ministry of Education to take accountability for the hurtful racism New Zealand students have faced.
"Not once did they mention, wow this is devastating to see how prevalent and pervasive racism is within the system that we operate."
"They've acknowledged that there is racism in the education system but they have not acknowledged that the Ministry of Education itself is systematically racist. They have not said sorry about the racism that has occurred for decades."
They said a copyright lawyer advised them the best thing to do would be to take the stories down. They plan to reupload the stories with the logo censored out.
The Ministry of Education has been approached for a comment.