Sociologist's book rejected after claims it was 'too pro-Māori'

By Te Rina Triponel

Sociologist and former New York journalist Robert Bartholomew self-published a book this year about what he calls the most racist town in New Zealand but says it’s received little publicity.

Bartholomew says the probable reason for No Māori Allowed: New Zealand’s Forgotten History of Racial Segregation getting little publicity is because when it comes to their own racial intolerance, many New Zealanders are still turning a blind eye.

"New Zealand is really good at criticising other countries for their racial problems but ignoring their own history of racism," he told Tapatahi.

"It's time to address what’s happened and stop censoring it."

Bartholomew says he went to various public book publishers who rejected his book because "no one would read it". 

He says a university publisher took a liking to it but told him he needed to make changes because it was "too pro-Māori".

"I think it’s important we take these stories and write them down," he says. "With each passing year, we're losing Māori elders from the segregation era."

"If we don’t preserve these stories and keep them for future generations, we're going to lose them."

No Māori Allowed: New Zealand’s Forgotten History of Racial Segregation highlights several issues not widely taught, including the deaths of infants and children who suffered from various diseases as a result of "atrocious" housing.

It also looks at the segregation in Pukekohe between the mid-1920s and early 1960s, where barbers in Pukekohe refused to cut Māori hair.

Māori were also not allowed upstairs at the Strand Theatre, and only one bar in town would serve them.

"This country will never be great until it acknowledges its racist past."