Discourse around Māori (indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand), positive discrimination and affirmative action-type measures in the Aotearoa New Zealand tertiary education system suggest that Māori are a ‘privileged’ group (Borell, Gregory, McCreanor, Jensen and Moewaka-Barnes, 2009; Barnes, Borell, Taiapa, Rankine, Nairn & McCreanor, 2012). This discourse is couched within narratives that condemn Māori-targeted scholarships, Māori-targeted support systems and Māori-targeted admission schemes throughout all tertiary education providers. In the wider Aotearoa/New Zealand context, mainstream media perpetuate this perception by depicting Māori as gaining access to these provisions as special privileges based on the fact that they identity as Māori (Abel, 1997). Justifications for these perceptions show an ill-informed understanding of the core notions of privilege (Black & Stone, 2005; McIntosh, 1989) which adds to the ignorance and further confusion around these intricate spaces. It also shows a continued distaste for Māori advancement and growth, but one impact of the colonial mind-set (Walker, 2004).
This paper proposes the term ‘Trequity’ as an apt term when addressing these subjects unique to the Aotearoa New Zealand context (Wharerau, 2015). It uses a whakapapa (genealogical) approach to highlight the importance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Treaty of Waitangi when discussing equity measures for Māori in this space. To not do so, would disregard the mana (integrity) of this partnership agreement and risk mismatched comparisons to other nations which have similar narratives around measures for minority and Indigenous peoples oppressed by imperial powers. This paper also discusses tertiary education policy that affirm the position that the national Government is obligated to ensure that Māori are proportionately represented and thriving in all Aotearoa New Zealand tertiary education institutions. These policies in the Treaty of Waitangi Act, the Education Act, and the WAI718 Waitangi Tribunal report.
Lastly, many of the ideas conveyed in connection to the education sector regarding Trequity Measures, also have implications within the broader Aotearoa New Zealand landscape. The Government’s obligations to Māori advancement extend as long as their decision-making affects the Māori population. Therefore this papers presents this term, Trequity, as one that can contribute to the narrative in a way that is both critical and thought-provoking. Through this exploration of the whakapapa of Māori dispossession to advancement, it will remain clear that all Trequity Measures within the tertiary education sector and beyond are merely the least that the Government should be providing for the trauma that past colonial structures have caused. These impacts are felt and will continue to be felt by generations to come.