Budget 2019: Government pumps millions into ridding schools of Māori racism, bias

The Government is pumping millions of dollars into an initiative that aims to rid schools of racism and bias against Māori learners. 

In a post-Budget 2019 announcement, Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis said $42 million over three years will be invested into the Te Hurihanganui initiative. 

It was developed by the Ministry of Education in 2018, chaired by Waikato University Professor Mere Berryman, who has spoken about how the current education model is failing Māori students by whitewashing their educational identity. 

"We must all take joint responsibility to engage in reforming education by relearning from the injustices of our collective past and being prepared to share power and work for reciprocal benefits."

Supporting Māori and Pacific aspirations was one of the main pillars of the Government's Wellbeing Budget, which included a boost of more than $80 million for Whānau Ora - a wellbeing initiative for Māori. 

Davis said the latest funding boost to eradicate racism in schools comes at a time when Māori students and their families say they're experiencing it consistently. 

"We receive consistent feedback that Māori students and their whānau experience racism and bias in schools, impacting on their achievement. Feedback supported by evidence."

He said the critical factors in supporting Māori learners include high quality teaching that reflects culture and identity, and strong engagement from whānau and the wider community.

"This initiative addresses both of these factors. We will work with schools, whānau and communities at the same time - supporting communities to build strong relationships with schools, and supporting schools to strengthen their daily practice to ensure our system supports Māori success."

The initiative is set to be tested across six communities over three years. Detailed implementation planning will start later this year in partnership with the participating communities.

In supporting Māori and Pacific people, Budget 2019 also allocated $98 million for a Māori-focused prison initiative to try and break the cycle of Māori reoffending and imprisonment.

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta has said the Government is committed to ensuring that basic te reo is spoken by a million people in New Zealand by 2040.