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CE's Pen - May 2019

As our Muslim brothers and sisters mark the month of Ramadan, we reflect again on the tragic events of 15th March and the many much-loved and valued men, women and children who were taken.

Many of us were shocked that such a thing could happen in Aotearoa.  We think of ourselves as an inclusive society, and while it has been encouraging to see the outpouring of support, we have also had to face the fact that racism and hatred are alive and well in our nation.

One root of racism is a fear of difference. A recent poll in the USA found that 29% of Americans feel “bothered” when they hear a language other than English being spoken in public.  That number is even higher for some groups – indeed, nearly half (47%) of white republicans feel either “some” or “a lot” bothered hearing languages other than English, and only 26% said it wouldn’t bother them at all. 

As far as I know, data like this hasn’t been collected in New Zealand, but going by the outcry from some groups every time it’s suggested that school children learn te reo Māori, this fear of difference is very much present here.

We all have a role to play in challenging racism when we see it (including in ourselves), and in working towards greater understanding among the many peoples who make up our nation. Learning about one another’s cultures and languages is a great first step towards that.

Through our work and advocacy, COMET works to create a more equitable education system – one where diversity is valued in all its forms, and where all learners have the support they need to reach their aspirations.  If you have a burning issue you think we need to pay attention to, we’d love to see you at our consultation meeting on Thursday.


Ngā mihi,  

Susan Warren

Chief Executive