Ka Pai

Yesterday I was at Maori Pasifika mentor training. It’s an initiative to help kids from stereotypically disadvantaged communities succeed at uni. There’s always food at these things, thank goodness, especially because yesterday they made us sing. Now I’m totally culturally in touch but getting a bunch of bleary-eyed students to do a waiaita on Saturday morning was just unpleasant.

Last semester I had the neatest mentee who always did her work, came to meetings, got good grades. Classic right. The irony of these sorts of programmes that the students who don’t need the help are the ones who seek it.

On our last session she asked me if I had a problem with the fact that I’m Pakeha (basically the Maori term for European, so in modern times, it means I’m white) and was giving up my time to a programme that myself or others of my race could never use? (told you she was smart). I hadn’t really thought about it, does that worry me? Not that I’m Pakeha and she’s Maori, but that other students are missing out on this great opportunity to receive personalised support purely on their race. I reckon it should be about financial need and academic history so it can help all the students from decile one and two schools to defeat the odds and succeed at uni, not just those from high-risk, identified ethnic groups. I;m very into positive discrimination but when will our education system stop providing extras on the basis of race not on genuine need?

Back to training, I sat next to a girl who was a little bit older than me, she’s Samoan, loves volleyball and lives with her parents and her son, first person in her family to go to uni and she is still giving up her time to help others. Holy cow. Imagine juggling a kid, uni and worrying about someone else’s education. RESPECT GURL (no I didn’t actually say that to her, don’t worry, but I thought it really loudly).

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