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Māori and ethnic minority students experience more discrimination than Pākeha – research

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Professor Roshini Pereis-John said research found poor students had worst outcomes. Photo / Supplied


Racism towards indigenous people or those from ethnic minorities is experienced at higher rates by people of colour than those who are white, new research shows.

The study, published last week in The Lancet, provides data and context that backs up the lived experience of 20,000 people.

The investigation found overall, Māori and ethnic minority students experienced more discrimination than Pākeha students.

Auckland University associate professor Roshini Pereis-John said the research found less affluent minorities had the worst outcomes.

“Ethnic minorities who have come from low and middle lower-income countries, like from South Asia, they were migrants who are in New Zealand for less than five years. First-generation or second-generation migrants, especially those young people from Pasifika ethnic groups, were the worst affected.”

Twelve per cent of youth said they were perceived as being Pākehā or white, despite being Māori or members of ethnic minority groups.

They also reported less discrimination than those who were not perceived as white.

Auckland University associate professor Rachel Simon-Kumar told RNZ’s Midday Report colourism was disturbingly present.

“Young people who were perceived to be white or not perceived to be white were likely to experience more discrimination from their teachers from their peers, more bullying from police even,” she said.

The research found migrant youth from high-income countries of origin – Europe, North America, Australia and east Asia – were less likely to experience deprivation.

Simon-Kumar said inequities persisted across multiple generations for those from lower-income countries of origin.

“We also found effects in terms of health, mental health, in terms of being able to access health care, to those who were materially deprived or were poor, [they] found it harder to access health care,” Simon-Kumar said.

The authors of the study said the results showed there was a greater need to better understand race as Aotearoa became more bicultural.

“We have to pay attention to how we understand race and particularly as New Zealand becomes more and more demographically mixed, but we are seeing more of multi-ethnicity… we need to understand that there are complex relationships amongst and between minority groups just as much as there are complex relationships between minority and majority groups,” Simon-Kumar said.

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