Vocational training reform proposing radical changes in tertiary education delivery are rushed and will disadvantage Maori, according to a Hawke's Bay man who has lodged a Treaty of Waitangi claim to improve reform consultation.
The claim was lodged on Thursday by Whakatu man Des Ratima, a board member since 2013 of sport, recreation, exercise and performing arts industry training organisation Skills Active.
The organisation wants a consultation period which closed last week extended at least till June, and also seeks scrutiny of the Government's engagement with Treaty partner relating to the reform proposals which were announced in February by Education Minister Chris Hipkins, saying the education system needs to adapt to rapid change.
The claim alleges a rushed and inadequate consultation process has breached the Treaty, and was filed on behalf of Ratima himself and Skills Active's 50 per cent Māori shareholding.
It also asserts the inadequate consultation period and lack of engagement with the claimants has undermined the exercise of their mana and Tino Rangatiratanga over vocational education.
"Our claim asserts that the government has failed to recognise and provide for Māori taonga, namely vocational education; and failed to honour the principle of partnership under the Treaty," said Ratima, who was last year awarded the ONZM for his services to Māori over many decades.
He said 22,500 Māori take part in industry training and reap the benefits of the ITO system, and should be protected.
Skills Active has achieved parity between Māori and non-Māori completions, which Ratima said was something no other university or polytech had achieved.
"So, where is the evidence for dismantling the ITO system when it's not broken, and it's working for Māori?," he said.
"The Minister should be in no doubt that we believe these reforms will negatively affect Māori learners," he said. "Government needs to embrace the concept of co-design from the outset, and by collaboration, produce mutually beneficial outcomes."