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Religious Instruction in State Schools.

Should religious instruction be permitted in New Zealand State Schools?

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The vote is already over! It ended on Wednesday, 30.April 2014 (00:00).

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Yesterday there was a article in the New Zealand Herald suggesting that karakia could be affected by the legal action being taken by Jeff McClintock, David Hines and Tanya Jacob. Regardless of the nature of karakia the status of prayer in class is already legally clear, The Education Act of 1877 established New Zealand schools as Universal, Free and Secular. This means that all children should be welcome at state schools regardless of race, religion or financial status. Reciting karakia does not depend on the legal loophole which allows Christian Ministries to enter schools to preach to children after the school formally closes. Holding prayer in class is already a violation of the Education Act. Our former President, Ngaire McCarthy, of Ngapuhi, Ngati Hako, and Ngati Tamatera has addressed this issue in an article on SciBlogs.

 

McCarthy says "The traditional karakia that is used to open and close ceremonies is not a Christian prayer, it is a ritual chant, a set form of words to state or make effective a ritual activity. Karakia are recited rapidly using traditional language, symbols and structures. The early missionaries saw Maori traditioHowever, regardless of the nature of karakia the status of prayer in class is already legally clear, The Education Act of 1877 established New Zealand schools as Universal, Free and Secular. This means that all children should be welcome at state schools regardless of race, religion or financial status. Reciting Karakia does not depend on the Nelson loophole which allows Christian Ministries to enter schools to preach to children after the school closes. As the current legal action does not affect the current practice. If  ns through a Biblical framework and believed that karakia was always a prayer, so they took the word and reinterpreted it to mean Christian prayer. The word karakia then became just another tool of colonization. If the few kaumatua (elderly Maori) who articulate the karakia, are Christian, they will continue to misrepresent our customary karakia. This puts them into direct conflict with our pre-colonization customary traditions."


McCarthy also talks about how forty six percent of Maori selected 'No Religion' in the latest census. So even among Maori Christian Prayer would be inappropriate during school, even if reciting it in Maori. As an association we support Maori rights to preserve their own culture. It is a uniquely New Zealand culture which has much to teach us, and we are richer for it. But Maori tradition should not be appropriated to promote a specific religion.

 

 

 

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