Maori schools fight merger

By Kate Shuttleworth

The Education Ministry announced a proposal to close 13 Canterbury schools and merge another 18 - including the city's te Kura Kaupapa Maori immersion schools. Photo / APN
The Education Ministry announced a proposal to close 13 Canterbury schools and merge another 18 - including the city's te Kura Kaupapa Maori immersion schools. Photo / APN

Christchurch Maori immersion schools are lodging a complaint with the Waitangi Tribunal over a merger the Government announced last week as part of its reshuffle of education.

The Education Ministry announced a proposal to close 13 Canterbury schools and merge another 18 - including the city's te Kura Kaupapa Maori immersion schools.

The chairman of the board of Te Whanau Tahi school in Spreydon, Huata Martindale said merging their schools with Te Kura Whakapumau te Reo Tuturu Ki Waitaha, in Woolston, was part of a plan by the Government to create a new charter school targeting Maori.

Mr Martindale said neither of the schools suffered earthquake damage, and they had experienced only a small drop in the school rolls.

The ministry's website shows the combined rolls of the schools dropped to 151 in March 2012 from 196 in 2010.

In the proposal document released by the ministry last week a charter school for Years 1-5 was put forward.

"By forcing the two Maori schools to merge - it means they have kids for the charter school.

"These are our children, not the minister's. She cannot have them for her experiment."

Mr Martindale said the two schools have little in common and merging them would be like trying to combine a Catholic Diocese with a Jewish synagogue.

"The only rationale for the merger provided by the minister was that the two Maori schools are geographically close to each other.

"It seems to me there are 31 schools in Christchurch experiencing a new form of colonisation.

"The schools are being disenfranchised, forced to assimilate, to abandon their cultural histories and gathering places."

Both schools lodged complaints with the Waitangi Tribunal against the ministry and will reject the proposal in a letter to the ministry.

- APNZ

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