5 May 2014

Racist views shock Maori researcher

7:01 pm on 5 May 2014

Racist comments and low expectations of their Maori students have shocked a fair skinned, blue eyed Maori researcher surveying teachers about their attitudes of their Maori pupils.

Hana Turner of Ngati Ranginui descent conducted the study for her thesis, Teacher Expectations, Ethnicity and the Achievement Gap. It was for her Master of Education degree at Auckland University.

Hana Turner at her graduation on Monday.

Hana Turner at her graduation on Monday. Photo: AUCKLAND UNIVERSITY

The findings revealed that teachers' expectations were highest for Asian students, followed by Pakeha then Pasifika and, at the bottom, Maori students.

Ms Turner said one teacher told her if a Maori student was smart they only used their brains for criminal intentions.

She said the comment revealed a belief that being "intelligent" was not the norm for Maori and a couple of other teachers also said that smart Maori students were on a pathway to prison.

Ms Turner believes if she had a darker complexion and looked more Maori then some of the teachers wouldn't have been so honest with her.

Ms Turner said the comments hurt her and made her feel sick to the stomach because she felt it was her Maori heritage they were also attacking.

She says none of the 15 teachers she surveyed were Maori and were mainly Pakeha or Asian.