Since late 2018, the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand has been collaborating with the Human Rights Commission’s national campaign, Give Nothing to Racism, to create and foster conversations around racism in Aotearoa New Zealand. Through Unteach Racism, Matatū Aotearoa | Teaching Council can support teachers to have safe, productive conversations around racism that result in changes to behaviour and practice as set out in Ngā Tikanga Matatika, Ngā Paerewa | Our Code, Our Standards, the profession’s guiding documents. It might feel scary or uncomfortable at times, but it is more important than ever to forge ahead. Self-reflection and frank, open conversations grounded in Ngā Tikanga Matatika | Our Code, Our Standards are the first steps.  


Racism, it’s no joke  

We all know or have heard a joke based on race. Some are old ways of thinking, wrapped up in a bow of humour. Some are racist taunts or a more direct mocking of a group or individual based on race or ethnicity. But what if that same joke is taken into another context, such as a classroom, staff room, school assembly, or an early childhood centre? Does the joke still hold its own? Does it make sense in that context, or has it now gone past the level of an uncomfortable squirm in the seat for the audience and is just socially or morally unacceptable.  

How do you respond when you hear a race-based joke? Is it ok if it is not about your race? If you and your ancestors get off lightly, do you speak up? What if it is actually harming another, will you speak up? How do you raise the issue? 

What do you do when the person telling the ‘joke’ appears to be unaware that they are causing harm with their racist attitude? What if they are making fun of their own race? Take a look at Unteach Racism’s resource, Confronting Racist Jokes and Comments Framework for further advice and suggestions. 


Unteach Racism Module – Racist Exchanges  

The Racist Exchanges Module in Unteach Racism explores interpersonal racism. It supports teachers to identify the pathways they can take so that they, and their colleagues, feel safe to call others in to conversations about racism and includes the framework on confronting racist jokes and comments that is linked to above.    

Visit the Unteach Racism website to join the movement!

Please get in touch with us at if you want to share your examples of how the app and resources have already had an impact on your practice.