300px-Faculty_of_Medical_and_Health_Sciences,_University_of_AucklandThis is a letter we received from a young supporter this week.

It highlights one of the many problems non-Maori face when one minority race, Maori, are giving special privileges not available to the rest of the population.

I know I’m only sixteen but I wholeheartedly agree with your policies.
One thing that I’m finding extremely frustrating right now, is the
preferential treatment that Maori and Pacific people get in tertiary
education. For example, I want to go to med school and I went to the
Auckland University Courses and Careers Day. Up to 108 undergraduates
are selected for entry into med school. But did you know that up to 57
spots (that didn’t get in through the standard undergraduate path) are
reserved for entry into med school for Maori and Pacific Islanders?
Purely because of their ethnicity. I just find that so frustrating.
Its not fair. At all. Everyone should have to get into med school
based purely on academic merit, rather than ethnicity. They even have
a Certificate of Health Sciences open only to Maori and Pacific
Islanders. A qualification that I literally would not be allowed to do
even if I wanted to. Why should Maori people get special scholarships
with the whole MAPAS entry. They should have to compete and reach the
same academic levels as everyone else.


This evening we received an email from another supporter. They had read this post and wished to add their own experiences:

I am a doctor – a GP. When I got into Auckland med school in the late 1980s we needed a bursary mark of 460/500  or greater. However, the Maori applicants only needed a mark in the mid 300s. It was interesting to follow those Maori students. Many of them failed at least one year. This was despite having special Maori / Pacific Island only study groups. Sometimes they were even given the examination questions ahead of time. I know one Maori student who failed five years but still completed the degree in the end.

No pakeha student would have been allowed to do that. When we graduated we had to do a provisional year in the hospitals as house officers at the end of which time we would be given our full registration.

When we arrived on day one we were told in no uncertain terms, by the head of the Maori unit at the hospital, that all the pakeha doctors were a temporary measure until the hospital could be fully maori staffed. When one pakeha doctor got up and challenged this as being racist she was told to be quiet or risk losing her position. This was the mid 1990s.

There was a Maori house officer in my year at that hospital who failed that provisional year but the head of medicine was forced to let him through because he was Maori. There were also extras given to young Maori doctors to keep them in the employment of the hospital, for example : $ 20 K bonus or a car.

Two of my med school peers – both Maori – went on to specialist training – and both took between 3 and 5 years longer than usual to complete that training – despite special classes etc for their being Maori.

A pakeha doctor would not have been allowed to continue trying for the specialty in such a situation.

It all reeks of racism to me.

A Further UpDate/Correction:

An interested member of the public decided to do some checking on the figures supplied by our 16 year old above. He found the following:

From the figures I got from AU, the places break down as follows:

  • Total available places: 263
  • Available to NZ residents: 233
  • Of those 233, 57 may be filled (but may not) by Maori and Pasifika students under their MAPAS scheme.*
  • Put another way, 24% of the total available places “may be” taken up by Maori or Pasifika students.
  • And Maori and Pasifika populations = 22% of the total.

It should also be noted that MAPAS was only introduced in 2006. Prior to then, AU offered only 135 med school places. As MAPAS was introduced, this increased to 155, with 30 places available under MAPAS. Today, there are a total of 233 NZ places, of which 57 are available under MAPAS. So the total number of places available to Pakeha students like the one who wrote to you, has actually increased from 135 in 2006, to 176 in 2013. And increase in 41 available places over the last 6 years. (Source: http://www.nzmsa.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Medical-Student-Numbers.pdf).

Also, I thought it might be worth mentioning that MAPAS policy is that students MUST meet the same educational standards as other students.

* I don’t have the full figures, but technically speaking, not al of these places are always filled. To my knowledge, 56 places of the 57 available in 2013 were filled. Presumably because no one met the grade for the 57th place.


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