Hundreds sign up to decolonising education seminar

By Will Trafford

Organisers of an education forum tackling longstanding race issues within education and the new history in schools curriculum say they’ve been blown away by some 800 people signing up.

Kia wetewetea, ko Māui ahau will be held in Nelson Friday with an emphasis on changing the education sector to enhance excellence in Māori students.

Teachers, whānau and the general public can attend; the organisers say some schools in the region have signed off on teacher-only days due to an overwhelming number of kaiako keen to attend.

“We want to give whānau an opportunity to gain a voice when it comes to education and provide some practical solutions when it comes to advocating for whānau in a school setting." Whakatū-based teacher and education facilitator Vanya George (Ngāti Kuia, Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Te Ātiawa o te Waka-a-Māui, Ngāti Rārua) said.

Keynote speakers include former teacher and lecturer in education at Victoria University Dr Liana MacDonald (Ngāti Kuia, Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Koata).

MacDonald examines how racism, whiteness, and settler colonialism manifest in schools and how institutional racism impacts the educational system and students.

'Critical juncture'

"Our school system is set up in a way that it doesn't really acknowledge the effects of historical colonial violence, all the horrible ways that our colonial history has dislocated Māori from land and culture," MacDonald told RNZ.

"As a result of talking about our history and what has happened within our local communities, we can move forward and think about how we can create an education system that's more equitable, or how we can operate as a multi-cultural society and a bicultural society."

MacDonald argues the country is at a critical juncture for overhauling the education system ahead of the widespread rollout of history in schools and Te Hurihanganui, the ministry of education’s strategy to tackle racism within the sector.

"It's really important that people get on board so that we can start to think differently and creatively about an education system that caters for all, not just for one group as it has done for so long."

Kia wetewetea, ko Māui ahau will be held at the Whakatū Trafalgar Centre. Entry is free, but those wishing to attend are required to register on EventBrite.

Public Interest Journalism, funded through NZ On Air