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Why I didn’t sit with the other Maori girls at school

Liana MacDonald |  31 March 2018

I grew up in a predominantly Pakeha town in the South Island. My mother is Pakeha. My father, who had Ngati Kuia and Rangitane whakapapa, was killed when I was seven. Mum juggled postal work while she raised me and my sister on her own — and in the school holidays, she’d ship me off to Nelson to reconnect with Dad’s side.

As the older child, it helped that I tried not to rock the boat.

It also helped that I knew how to get on at school. By the time I got to Marlborough Girls’ College, I understood the unspoken rules. Fail and you’re seen as just another Maori. Succeed and you’re just like everyone else.


Liana MacDonald


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