Overt and covert racism: Mispronunciation of Māori names and the impact on Māori students

By Helen Parker Edited by Dr. Rāwiri Tinirau

This paper presents the findings of research about Māori secondary school students in mainstream schools and their experiences of having their names mispronounced. It also discusses the associated racism in those schools directed towards Māori students. Participants were asked about the importance of their names, how they felt about their Māori names being mispronounced, shortened or changed without their consent, and how those experiences have impacted on, or continue to impact on them. The main findings from this study were that the repeated mispronunciation of Māori names can cause Māori students to disengage and withdraw from school and education. Recommendations arising from this research include making te reo Māori pronunciation compulsory for teacher training institutions to ensure that the mispronunciation of Māori names does not continue to disadvantage and marginalise Māori students in mainstream schools.

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