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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

More 'debate'... 

Here's an interesting contribution to whatever debate it is that NZ is having about race/ethnicity/the Treaty/rights/law, and one which sheds some light on notions of citizenship and indigeneity.

There is at least one claim I'd like to take issue with:

The insistence that the politics of indigeneity emphasise a Maori preferential access to healthcare, to education funding or to exclusive access to the foreshore and seabed has entered popular mythology - not because these extra rights are claimed by Maori but because it suits a fear-generating political agenda to encourage its emergence.
In some senses, this is correct, but at least in the field of education there's a claim to be made. It's hard not to see that the "quota" systems historically operated by the medical and law schools at Auckland University to ensure Maori entry into the programs aren't preferential.

Whatever title they were given, they were basically fairly conventional affirmative action schemes. They have given Maori preferential access to areas of tertiary education, and thus (albeit somewhat indirectly) to education funding. This may not be a 'right' claimed by Maori, but it was an option some were able to use. And fair enough - why not take advantage of such institutional arrangements?

Whether or not you believe these quotas are a good thing, the fact is that they're preferential ... they have operated to give members of selected ethnic groups access to areas of education that they might not otherwise have received (otherwise why have the schemes?) An 'ethnic' dimension has been added to more conventional 'academic' considerations for entry (assuming that 'identifying as Maori' isn't an academic criterion).

Logically, places that may have been filled by others on strictly academic grounds, were filled by Maori instead. That's preferentialism in my books.

In unrelated news, Dunedin is an especially dangerous place to be a pedestrian ... better stick to driving then ... but at $1.19/L?


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