Listen: Racist rant directed at the co-director of the School of Maori and Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland, Jemaima Tiatia-Seath. Video / Supplied
An Auckland scholar who had just spoken at a public event about her successful career as a Pasifika woman was shocked to discover a hate-filled ‘racist rant’ left on her voicemail.
Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, co-director of Te Wānanga o Waipapa – the School of Maori and Pacific Studies – at the University of Auckland, shared seven minutes of listeners’ comments online following a event broadcast Sunday on Radio New Zealand.
The rant was denounced by Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon, who said while such incidents were sadly common, no one should be reduced to receiving racist taunts.
Tiatia-Seath’s speech touched on the pay gap between Maori and Pasifika academics and the evidence showing that female Pasifika academics earn about $ 7,000 less than their male counterparts.
The speaker’s presentation was well received by attendees, but when she checked her voicemail later, she was incredulous by a long message.
Tiatia-Seath said the woman on the phone made “blatantly racist and hateful” comments, including telling her to return to the islands.
“Here in New Zealand, the settlers and the settlers – they brought all their knowledge here and they built here,” the appellant said.
“They taught the Maori (sic) about Jesus Christ … They taught the Maori chiefs to stop invading other tribes.”
She asks Tiatia-Seath if she is trying to “advance your culture”, before telling her that the Polynesians came to New Zealand about 60 years ago – compared to her ancestors, who landed here some time ago. 180 years old.
“The way you spoke last night – you behaved like you own New Zealand. You are not. You all arrived late,” the caller said, his tone growing louder. sharper as it continued.
Racism: “It was an opportunity to denounce it”
Tiatia-Seath said she shared the post on social media in an attempt to show the ugliness of racism.
“What has been said is essentially a verbalized sample of how some New Zealanders think,” she told the Herald.
“The purpose of sharing was to expose ugliness. You take the bad with the good – you don’t necessarily have to take the ugly.”
Born in Tokoroa and raised in West Auckland, Tiatia-Seath said she rolled her eyes at the post but also felt hurt.
“There was a pain – and not for me. It was for the future and for all this Pacific [people] do. The pain was for those who came before me – for [people] who were killed for talking like that. “
A legacy left behind
Tiatia-Seath, whose family is from Samoa, paid tribute to her grandparents and other migrants who came to New Zealand in search of new hope.
“This land offers prosperity and success just to be … and that kind of rant is an attack on all that we are.”
However, the woman’s rant had also been a “one hundred percent” motivation.
“Last week we saw the graduation ceremony and we saw these students bearing their names, their ancestors and their beliefs. What that tells me is that you can’t hold us back.
“And that’s the legacy we’re going to leave behind.”
Foon said the woman’s comments were “silly” and “immature” behavior.
Pasifika, Maori and Asian academics have often been subjected to these experiences, he said.
“These are micro-aggressions. It happens in little bits, but they end up, cumulatively, very hurtful and demoralizing. Sometimes people feel strong… but it tires them out.
“We should all be safe in our environments, regardless of our heritage, ethnicity, religion, gender.”
Foon sent his aroha to Tiatia-Seath, her family and her peers.
The incident follows comments by national education spokesman Paul Goldsmith last weekend that settlement “on the whole” had been a good thing for the Maori.
Goldsmith was targeting the history curriculum offered in New Zealand, which emphasizes teaching about colonization and its impacts, particularly on Maori, and on topics such as white privilege.
Yesterday, Justice Minister Kris Faafoi told Parliament’s Justice Select Committee that proposed changes to hate speech laws would not criminalize “stupid” opinions or things people say unless they are. ‘they do not stir up hatred towards a particular group.
Faafoi said the public consultation on the proposals would take place “very soon”.
– Additional reporting: Julia Gabel
More about this article: Read More
This notice was published: 2021-06-10 17:00:30