Māori tertiary education providers have long argued for a change of law for more independence to reflect the way they operate and work with iwi. Their role has finally been recognised in an amendment to the law, as well as the unique role they play in the education system.
A new framework has finally been developed to deliver Māori education.
Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi chief executive Wiremu Doherty says, “Our wānanga have remained stagnant within the Education Act. This legislation will enable us to have more autonomy within our current settings. And within that, continuous support will help us to achieve our aspirations.”
Te Wānanga o Raukawa chief executive Mereana Selby says for Te Wānanga o Raukawa the law change is a pathway to autonomy. “We have longed for this time to come where our people will shelter the autonomy of our tertiary institution.”
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa chief executive Nepia Winiata: “Well, it’s no secret that we’ve had challenges with the Crown and different ministries over the years, but this particular journey has been incredibly collaborative, and I’m really impressed and want to thank the ministry officials and their teams for the work that they’ve done.”
Māori Education Minister Kelvin Davis says the unique role in the education system of Māori tertiary education providers has not been recognised until now.
“They now have the autonomy to manage their institutions under their own customs,” Davis says.
The bill also separates kura kaupapa Māori from character schools. Establishing kura and how they’ll be governed will now follow a new set of rules.
Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rito principal Heni Wirihana says, “We have our own unique character that stands alone and differs from the special character schools. We originate from this land and therefore we are very different.”
Wānanga have also changed the landscape of education in New Zealand. The new legislation recognises this and takes it another step further.
Selby says, “The responsibility has been given to our own respective tribes of Te Wānanga o Raukawa, for them to determine, to foster and to cafe for our institute.”
Winiata says, “So, for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa it’s really enabling a platform for us to be able to make some determinations over how we govern and some other borders and council decisions that we’ve yet to mak, but it sets the scene for us to make those decisions.
“Many say that they have Māori knowledge but do not have a focus on the Māori world. That is the importance of this legislation, which will allow our wānanga to function to appropriately show what Māori knowledge really is,” Doherty says.