Live updates, June 14: Seymour faces pressure over ‘white privilege’ at schools story

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Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for June 14, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

8.05am: Seymour faces pressure over ‘white privilege’ at schools story

For at least a month, Act Party leader David Seymour has been using the example of a Whangārei school that made a student admit their white privilege as a means to criticise the government for its “race-based” approach to education.

But now, the school reportedly at the centre of Seymour’s claim has pushed back and told Northern Advocate they are unaware of such an event taking place.

Seymour originally said the incident took place was a primary school, but since told the Advocate newspaper it was in fact Whangārei Girls’ High School.

“I’d love him to be able to put the facts to that,” said the school’s principal Anne Cooper. “I’ve certainly had no complaints about it.”

The specific claim made by Seymour was that a student at the school had been forced to “acknowledge their white privilege that day”, but Cooper said she was unaware of anything like that happening. “Kids talk and we encourage kids to talk. Parents are very good at coming forward. I’d certainly like to know if it is the case,” she said.

“I suspect it was probably some enthusiastic graduate on a mission to put the world to rights. It may not have had an official sanction.”

Read the full story here

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

The government will make a formal apology for the “Dawn Raid” policies of the 1970s, which harshly targeted Pasifika people. PM Jacinda Ardern said the apology will be made at a formal event at the Auckland Town Hall on June 26. This Radio NZ story quoted Ardern setting out the specific harms caused during the era, and said “an apology can never reverse what happened or undo the decades of disadvantage experienced as a result, but it can contribute to healing the Pacific peoples in Aotearoa”. Two previous apologies of this nature have been made, to the Chinese community for the racist “poll tax”, and to Sāmoa for injustices during the period of colonial administration by New Zealand.

The human toll of the policy was thrown into sharp relief in this story, by One News. Savelio Ikani Pailate, 93, described being chased from his home by police dogs, and being deported anyway. Pacific People’s Minister Aupito William Sio was emotional during the announcement, saying the raids and associated police and immigration was disrespectful, racist and traumatising. Writing on The Spinoff Dr Melani Anae, who joined the Polynesian Panthers in 1971, covered the anger and action provoked by both the Dawn Raids and wider discrimination. It is not yet known what if any actions will accompany the apology.

Why is an apology necessary? What is the point of it after all these years? I’m open to people sending disagreements in the feedback from whatever perspective, but in my view an apology is warranted, and meaningful because of how it reframes the events in question. Apologies are a significant part of Treaty of Waitangi settlements, because they serve as a direct acknowledgement of Crown wrongdoing against specific iwi – I’d recommend you read E-Tangata on the complexities of that, and why an apology alone isn’t sufficient. But saying sorry for the Dawn Raids would make it clear the state now understands it was morally wrong for the government and police to target an ethnic minority.


SIS chief spy Rebecca Kitteridge has said the public must debate the line between digital privacy and security, in an interview with Stuff’s Thomas Manch. A review of some spying legislation will be taking place later this year, which could result in organisations like the SIS being given more surveillance powers. Kitteridge said at present, the security services are not legally allowed to conduct mass digital surveillance on the public, meaning – according to Kitteridge at least – they are less likely to stop or uncover terror threats before anything happens.

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