Late last year, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins chastised the Royal Society of New Zealand for not doing more to “stand up for science”, in what he described as a “ludicrous move to incorporate Maori ‘ways of knowing’ into science curricula in New Zealand.” Last month, he continued his rebuke, stating “If there is value in a Māori view of the world, then let it be taught worldwide.”
Our ideal history taught in schools would be a full account of the ongoing colonialism in Aotearoa and clear understandings of why and how things happened centring indigenous truths. JJ Carberry has stated that a decolonised curriculum would mean that hapū would have direct influence on the information that is taught about the local region. Bringing in colonial history of Aotearoa can help young people connect the Aotearoa context to global colonialism in a deep and meaningful way.
Colonisation sailed to Aotearoa’s shores aboard ships like the Blenheim, Coromandel, and Tory. With them came a different way of making sense of the world, and white supremacy was the implicit, goes-without-saying assumption that carried them here. Both tangata whenua and migrants from Asia were considered inferior – in culture, and in people. We were a threat to this new white society, and concerted efforts were made to ensure we didn’t jeopardise this way of life. Throughout Aotearoa’s colonial history, Pākehā took a paternalistic role and attempted to control relationships between Māori and Chinese, engineering divisions when the threat of intimacies became apparent. Tracing the origin of the ideas leads us back to white supremacist racialisation.
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