New Zealand Chinese community 'invisible' in draft history curriculum - Professor

The last few hours of feedback on a new history curriculum in schools have been dominated by talk about it not reflecting our diverse communities. 

Educators and human rights advocates have joined the New Zealand Chinese community in a last-minute appeal - saying the many Kiwis who don't identify as Māori or Pākehā are invisible. 

In our day-to-day lives there are very visible signs of the legacy of early Chinese settlers - but what their experience tells us about New Zealand identity and history is what their descendants want to hear. 

"We're not saying one story is more important than the other, it's just that as one of the first immigrants into Aotearoa other than the European, we have a valuable story that we would like to share with Aotearoa," Human Rights Commissioner Meng Foon says.

A story that includes terms like 'yellow peril' and targeted poll taxes to make it difficult for Chinese immigrants to bring their families over - racism researched extensively by Professor Manying Ip. 

So when she was chosen for a panel to review the draft curriculum she thought the New Zealand Chinese story would be perfect for students doing assignments in critical thinking about prejudice. 

"I want it to be more than anecdotes," Prof Ip says.

But she says it's ended up as a tidbit, and a huge opportunity lost.

"It needs to be part of the fundamental discussion of New Zealand's national identity - what being a New Zealander is all about," Prof Ip says.

"How come there are a group of people who have been here 180 years and you still say - 'well, immigrants'?"

The curriculum will be taught in all schools from 2022 and it came about in response to students themselves, who said they weren't being taught their own histories.

With Asians making up around 15 percent of the population at the last census, more than a third of those Chinese, the Education Minister says the curriculum is up for consultation and he agrees representation is important.  

"Some understanding of the cultural diversity that makes us who we are as a country. I think that will lead to a much more harmonious New Zealand society," Chris Hipkins says.

Social cohesion is especially relevant in the wake of 'stop Asian hate' rallies around the world.

As the window for giving feedback on the curriculum comes to a close tonight - one way or another, history will be made for future students.