but told to leave their culture at the door
OPINION: In the 1980s, Tūhoe educator Te Rangihau quipped that putting a carving over the door did not make a place Māori. He was referring to the increasing practice of cultural responsivity to Māori in public institutions – in government departments, schools and local bodies.
At a surface level, this practice saw the adoption of Māori names, the rollout of strategies or key performance indicators for Māori, formation of advisory groups, departmental waiata and whakatau to welcome new staff. In universities, one of the key strategies was increasing enrolment through targeted admission schemes.
The success of these schemes and wrap-around academic and pastoral supports for Māori students in universities has seen increasing numbers graduate in programmes such as law and medicine. The phenomenal success of the medicine programmes warrants special mention – with Otago and Auckland graduating record numbers of Māori doctors since 2016, following concerted recruitment and retention efforts. By 2016, Māori constituted 10 per cent of law graduates in New Zealand.