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No. 45 (December 1963)
– 2 –

Letters

Is There A Colour Bar?

The Editor,
‘Te Ao Hou.’

I listened with interest to a discussion over 1ZB, Auckland, where a panel of people were picked to give their views and opinions on the above subject.

Would it be possible to publish my personal views and experiences on the subject of ‘Is there a colour bar in New Zealand’.

Question: Is there a colour bar in New Zealand?

Answer: Yes, definitely, if it persists in your own mind.

Question: Is there a colour bar in New Zealand?

Answer: Yes, if you have had an experience, observed, or heard about such a thing.

Question: Is there a colour bar in New Zealand?

Answer: I don't know. Would this be one?

I remember when I was a child of six or seven at school, we had the district nurse visit us. She inspected our heads for lice, and found a swag of them on me. Unfortunately the nurse had no idea of being diplomatic about it, so that I suffered cruelly from the taunts of my classmates. Immediately the barrier went up, from my white contemporaries, ‘dirty Maori’. That was my first realization that there was a difference in the colour of my skin. Or was it because I was unclean that I wasn't acceptable for playing games with them? Or is it that children must be cruel to each other?

I became very confused, angry, embarrassed and tearfully upset. I confronted my mother with the note that the nurse had given me and handed it to her weeping. Upon reading it, she clouted me one across the head for crying, and another for not keeping my head clean. I often wondered if that was a justified action on her part, that the nurse had made her aware of her responsibility and she was feeling a wee bit guilty about it.

Over the years similar experiences have occurred to me and to others who have come across this sort of colour barrier. Opinions differ from person to person, some laugh at their experiences, some speak despairingly about it, some just couldn't confront it, but most I noticed justified their thoughts and actions to the situation whenever the question arose.

My Opinion: Is there a colour bar in New Zealand. No, it no longer exists with me personally. It's a problem that each one must sort out for oneself. If it is possible to find the basic problem of that particular question, the other problems will collapse, because they have piled up upon one another, and it becomes re-stimulated time after time. I have found this workable to my reality, and now I am finding a great pleasure in meeting people of different walks of life and nationality. This does not solve the next person's problem on the colour bar but it does mine.

And even now whenever I feel a remark is aimed at me indirectly, these questions well up in my mind. What is it that he or she doesn't like about me? What is it that they do like about me? What is it that they can't confront? Is it a problem to them, and why does it still persist? Accept a person for what they are and I feel half your problems are solved.

N.B. My daughter, age six years, is attending a school where whites are predominant. And she is having a similar experience to the one I had when I was her age. The cry that is thrown at her is Maori bug, why don't you go to a Maori school; we don't want no Maoris at our school, go back to the Maori country. I have made a point of keeping her clean and tidy so the problem is not with her personal appearance, but the colour of her skin, nor does she possess any abnormal characteristics.

R.D. (Auckland)

?

The Government will, in future, subsidise £ for £ the funds passing to the Maori Education Foundation from Maori unclaimed moneys held by the Maori Trustee. In addition the government will meet the Foundation's administration costs (which last year amounted to some £3,800).

Announcing this new policy, the Minister of Maori Affairs, Mr Hanan said that the unclaimed moneys on which the £ for £ subsidy will be payable are estimated at £27,000 this financial year, £35,000 next financial year and £15,000 a year thereafter.

The effect of all this is that the Foundation income will be more than doubled.