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August 21, 2017 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira |
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Te Ara Tauira

Dear Pākehā*,

As a Māori student, I have and continue to participate in affirmative action programmes. Despite the awkwardness I have felt and the misplaced comments from non-Māori students who might deem affirmative action as nothing other than “special treatment,” and despite being forced by such uneducated reactions to question my own integrity and even my own intelligence, I have always remembered that I have every right to be here.

Challenges within the US administration toward affirmative action have again seeped from the ignorant minds of the White House. Even in our own backyard, associations have formed which criticise affirmative action and even have the cheek to label it as “discrimination.” Such associations I do not wish to name, as it would be a complete waste of breath. But we know who they are.

Criticism toward affirmative action can stem only from a complete disregard for context, and as life teaches us again, and again, context is everything. Such ignorance is blind to the history of colonisation which saw the murdering of my people, the cutting of our mother tongue, and the mass appropriation of our lands. Such ignorance is blind to the effects of colonisation, still rampant to this day. Poverty, suicide, and incarceration are all still strongly associated with my brown skin. The chains of oppression still clank, wearing down the wrists of my people.

Therefore, if affirmative action is to be regarded as anything, it is the key which will free us from those chains. It is the humanisation of those who have been dehumanised. It is a form of apology, to make right what was utterly wrong. Any person who says otherwise, need only read a historical account by the Waitangi Tribunal.

Yours truly,

Te Iwi Māori


*Specifically, those who disagree with affirmative action (AKA Pōkokohua)

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