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Term 'Maori child abuse' fuels racial stereotypes - expert

Published: 12:03PM Tuesday December 27, 2011 Source: ONE News

An expert in Maori history is calling on the media and government agencies to stop using the term "Maori child abuse", because it's racist.

Auckland University of Technology's Dr Paul Moon says putting the word "Maori" in front of "child abuse" creates a dangerous and inaccurate stereotype.

"There is no such thing as Maori child abuse or Pakeha child abuse", says Professor Moon.

"There is just child abuse. By putting the word "Maori" in front of it, a stereotype is created which is inaccurate and dangerous".

Professor Moon points to ethnic-based stereotyping that has occurred in New Zealand throughout the decades: from the 1900s against Dalmatians through to the 1970s against Polynesians.

He believes it's continuing now in the debate about Maori and child abuse.

Moon says highlighting ethnicity taints all Maori parents with the same brush, while in reality most are perfectly good parents.

"If a Maori parent abuses a child, it automatically becomes "Maori child abuse", yet when a Pakeha is involved in corporate crime, the ethnicity of the offender is almost never mentioned," he said.

However, in reaction to Moon's statement, Ngapuhi leader David Rankin claims the term is an accurate reflection of what some Maori are doing to their children.

In a statement Rankin said Maori need to take ownership of the problem and stop trying to "whitewash" it.

"'We come from a warrior race," said Rankin, "but colonisation has meant that we no longer have any battles to fight and we have too much time on our hands so that violent energy is not used up."

He said despite the Government throwing millions of dollars at the problem it is "only getting worse".

Rankin suggests whanau should employ a greater role in monitoring their family members.