“The fact that the Prime Minister doesn’t know that white privilege is a core part of a new education programme being used across the country shows a Government in la la land”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Jacinda Ardern told media this morning that the words ‘white privilege’ aren't used anywhere in New Zealand's education curriculum.

“That’s incorrect.

“The Blueprint for Te Hurihanganui explains that ‘Building critical consciousness means reflecting critically on the imbalance of power and resources in society, and taking anti-oppressive action to do something about it for the better. It means recognising white privilege, understanding racism, inequity faced by Māori and disrupting that status quo to strengthen equity.’

Ka Hikitia, the Government’s wider Māori Education Strategy, also uses the idea.

“The Challenging Racism kit, intended for 12 to 14 year-olds, prompted the following response from a teacher: ‘An excellent discussion tool to start the vital conversation around reflection, understanding, and seeing how racism and white privilege affects the lives of indigenous people on a daily and recurring basis.’

“The Ka Hikitia reading list for teachers contains a key paper which claims that ‘many whites believe their financial and professional successes are the result of their own efforts while ignoring the fact of white privilege.’

Ardern also claimed that if white privilege is being taught that’s just ‘the way it's been used in a particular classroom’ and to say it’s ‘happening across the country would not be a fair representation.’

“Imagine a child who might be beaten, abused, or not given the necessaries of life. They go to school and are told they’re privileged. Why? Because of the colour of their skin. It’s a way of dividing children that’s frankly despicable.

Te Hurihanganui is actually being introduced by her former deputy Kelvin Davis in schools in Te Puke, Wellington, Nelson and Southland.

“The promise of our country is to value each person as we find them and value their human dignity without prejudice. A policy that asks children to apologise for their colour is the worst form of bigotry. Dressing it up as anti-racism is hypocrisy.

“Every human shares 99.9 percent of their DNA. Government policy should focus on our common humanity and the challenges we each face as we go through life, instead of racially profiling children.

“New Zealand children deserve a positive and inclusive education. No child should have to be apologetic about their creed or colour.

“We absolutely need to debate and discuss issues around race and inequality in this country. But covertly adding ‘white privilege’ to the curriculum is not the way to do it.”