• Hilary Bryan

Institutional racism: a lesson from over 30 years ago

The phrase - institutional racism - is quite rightly discussed by us all nowadays. I recently came across a definition of what it is and wanted to share it. Here goes.

Photo by Markus Spiske, Unsplash

"The fact is, though, that New Zealand institutions manifest a monocultural bias and the culture which shapes and directs that bias is Pakehatanga. The bias can be observed operating in law, government, the professions, health care, land ownership, welfare practices, education, town planning, the police, finance, business and spoken language."

"Institutional racism can be combatted only by a conscious effort to make our institutions more culturally inclusive in their character, more accommodating of cultural difference...The change must permeate to the recruitment and qualifications which shape the authority structure themselves...The first stage of change to a more culturally inclusive New Zealand is the recognition of biculturalism. This involves both the place and the status of Māoritanga in our institutional arrangements."


This is from a 1988 report: Puao-Te-Ata-Tu, the report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on a Māori Perspective for the Department of Social Welfare. So, this is over 30 years ago. Rather sobering and a reminder how slow change has been and how much further we have to go.