23 Oct 2008

Ethnic groups criticise history course proposal

10:47 am on 23 October 2008

Organisations representing ethnic groups in New Zealand have dismissed the the Maori Party's policy to introduce history courses as part of citizenship requirements, as failing to offer any real benefit.

The party wants all new citizens to complete a course in New Zealand and Pacific history, saying it is important that new citizens share an understanding of the history of the country.

Kai Luey, from the Auckland branch of the Chinese Association, says the Maori Party seems out of touch, and the compulsory history course would not help new migrants establish themselves and get good jobs.

Federation of Ethnic Councils spokesperson Pancha Narayanan says the group believes subjects like the Treaty of Waitangi should be taught as part of an induction package for migrants.

But he says citizenship requirements are already adequate, and having a history test would not improve new migrants' chances of settling successfully.

Former immigration minister Tuariki Delamere, who is now an immigration consultant, says the plan is not practical and would not achieve much, especially given New Zealanders' own knowledge of history is weak.

The policy was released as part of the Maori Party's treaty policy in Christchurch on Wednesday, in which it said support for a bill protecting the Maori seats was a bottom line issue.