Judith Collins claims Government teaching people to feel guilty about being white - declines to give detail

Judith Collins claims the Government is teaching children and adults to "feel guilty" about being white - and says the real privilege is "having parents who love and care for you".

The Leader of the Opposition continued her campaign of condemning the Ministry of Education's initiative to recognise white privilege, saying it's "absolutely disgraceful".

Collins told The AM Show on Wednesday she has been given documents that show outside consultants are teaching workshops on white privilege in some Wellington Government agencies.

She declined to give further information about which agencies were supposedly doing these workshops, or what the documents said.

"It's the kind of nonsense that a lot of New Zealanders would say 'what the hell is this?'" says Collins.

White privilege refers to the societal advantages afforded to white people just for being white. 

It is the absence of suspicion, prejudice and other negative behaviours that people who are often targeted by racism experience. 

Despite declining to give detail on the Government's alleged program, Collins says it will be an expensive undertaking.

"It'll be big money but we're just trying to find the facts."

In June 2018, the ministry began working with a number of Māori leaders on a way to strengthen ākonga Māori achievement and address bias. It developed the kaupapa Te Hurihanganui, which the ministry says "tests community-led approaches to addressing racism in the education system and improve outcomes for Māori learners and their whānau".

It consists of six key principles to be applied across different "education system levers", like within communities and the curriculum. 

Budget 2019 included $42 million over three years for Te Hurihanganui and is now being implemented in four communities, most recently in Nelson. 

One part of the initiative's "blueprint" mentions the need to build critical consciousness, which it says means "recognising white privilege". 

When asked whether she thought white privilege was real, Collins said she did not.

"The real privilege is having parents who love you and care for you, and education - but that's not [white] privilege it has nothing to do with colour."

She went on to say it was "absolutely disgraceful" children were being taught about white privilege.

"What they're teaching kids is that if you're not white, to say well 'there's a reason why I haven't achieved or if I have I'm super special because of it'...Other kids [are being taught] if they are white, that's the only reason they've succeeded."

Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis said the kaupapa was important to driving change.

"The education system hasn't worked for everyone in New Zealand and one of the biggest reasons for this inequity is systemic racism. Te Hurihanganui is how we're learning what works in communities to fix that," he said.

"Communities are the heart of Te Hurihanganui - iwi, whānau, ākonga, schools and early learning services.  When educators and policymakers work in partnership with communities, we can make change happen on the ground as well as across the education system."