Stats reveal Māori students over-represented in suspensions, expulsions

By Raniera Harrison

Latest statistics reveal that almost 41 out of every 1,000 Māori school students were expelled or excluded from school in 2017. 

The vice-president of the NZ Māori Principals Association says the results are "reflective" of society.

The stats also show that Māori students are more likely to be stood-down, suspended or expelled for schools- well above the national average.

However, the president of the NZ Māori Principals Association says that the onus should not necessarily rest upon the student alone.

"We know that Māori students tend to be kicked out a lot quicker and a lot earlier then non-Māori, we have a real issue with that," says principal of Ōtāngarei School, Myles Ferris.

"There is this bias and racism that happens in our schools and what we want is for schools to take a good look at themselves and say 'we need to do more before we kick them out'."

Ferris, who has been at the helm of Ōtāngarei School for the last six years, says he has seen the struggle to cope with children of methamphetamine-addicted parents and other socially driven problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome.

"I had an incident where I had three senior students around another student on the ground and booting the crap out of him, I had another student take a bat to another student and having to be pulled off of him," says Ferris.

Statistics show that male students were also more likely to be expelled.

Ferris says the government need to take action.

"We need better resourcing, we need better funding, we need more teacher aides in classrooms, we need child psychs to be working with our children, we need doctors to be able to assess them."

Ferris' call comes less then a week after 900 special educationalists nationwide went on strike around the country in protest against caseload support from the Ministry of Education.

"I don't believe any child should be kicked out of school, particulary up until Year 10 at least.

"What we're saying is that we've given up on them," warns Ferris.

This principal's ultimate hope is that negative statistics are not further perpetuated through these children.