Medical School quotas and France's colour blind policies

Have the medical schools gone too far by favouring Maori and Polynesian applicants with average grades over others with exceptional grades?

An unexpected Stuff feature titled “Medical school: Who gets in and why” (May 16, 2020) profiles (with changed names) some who gained entry and some who didn’t.

For instance, Harry, an 18-year-old of European descent brought up by professional parents who always wanted to be a doctor, was not accepted into Otago Medical School.

This was despite completing the first-year health science course at the University of Otago with an A+ average grade and managing a top score in the required University Clinical Aptitude Test.

Yet Wiremu, a product of a kohanga reo pre-school and a low decile Maori-language primary school who said he worked “his guts out” in the highly competitive intermediate year at Auckland University, was one of those students who benefited from policies designed to train more Maori medical professionals.

He said that as a junior doctor, his experience in relating to gang families meant he was often able to get through to certain Maori patients just by saying his name.

“They suddenly realised there was a Maori person on the other side. You just have to see their face when I say ‘Kia Ora I’m Wiremu’ — some of them go, ‘True Bro I thought you were Pakeha’. In certain circumstances we will have a chat in Maori and obviously that's useful. Then we have a brief introduction period, you get to know the other person. Pronouncing someone’s name correctly is massive.”

Hobson’s Pledge promotes a “colour-blind” model of public policy in which no racial or ethnic group is favoured over another.

France has developed such an approach to dealing with ethnic problems that stands in contrast to that of many other advanced, industrialized countries. See

Read the full Stuff story at

A new Covid-19 model to justify spending $1b on Maori?

A research model that was released on the day after the Budget purportedly shows that if Covid-19 surged in New Zealand, health inequity could pose a big risk to poorer communities, especially Maori and Pacific Island.

Researchers at Te Punaha Matatini, which is a cluster of researchers from Landcare Research and the Universities of Auckland and Canterbury, modelled infection rates for two scenarios – one structured by age, and the other by access to healthcare.

The model based on access to healthcare cited a Waitangi Tribunal recommendation that “the Government has an obligation under Te Tiriti o Waitangi to deliver equitable health outcomes for Maori and other population groups”.

The Te Punaha Matatini study says it “highlights the potentially heightened risks of Covid-19 for Maori and Pacific peoples and communities, which experience inequities in health and healthcare access that not only increase the risks of infection but may also magnify the impacts of the disease”.

Te Punaha Matatini released another Covid-19 model on April 9, after two weeks of the Level 4 lockdown, and that model helped the Government justify an extended Level 4 lockdown. 

The timing of this new research, May 15, 2020, gives the appearance of academic justification for the $1 billion Budget allocation for Maori for Covid-19.


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