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A plan was launched in Gore yesterday to tackle racism.
Eleven preschools and schools from Mataura to Gorge Road School, near Invercargill, will take part in the initiative called Te Hurihanganui.
The programme is one of six that will run for three years throughout New Zealand and is
funded by $42million set aside in the 2019 Budget.
Ministry of Education deputy secretary Rose Jamieson said there were inequities in the education system that set some people up to fail.
"One of these inequities is racism," Ms Jamieson said.
"[Te Hurihanganui] is helping communities to have conversations about racism."
About 100 people gathered at the Hokonui Runanga for the launch.
Te Hurihanganui kaiwhakahaere Sarah Asher said having conversations about racism would be uncomfortable.
Menzies College head girl Brianna Ferguson and year 13 pupil Latasha Reriti also spoke to the gathering.
Latasha said Te Hurihanganui was needed because Maori faced racism and discrimination in the education system.
"Aotearoa is currently ranked 33 out of 38 developed countries for education inequality."
Brianna said addressing racism was a problem the community needed to face.