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Consultation At A Standstill


Today the bank balances of every tertiary institution have increased to the advantage of Maori students. The Government has given every TEI a lump sum of money to develop support systems for Maori and Pacific students. Te Mana Akonga; the National Maori University Students’ Association has welcomed the extra funding, although there is a sense of mistrust around the country as some institutions fail to consult with Maori students and staff about how their needs can be meet.

The funding package was announced at the end of 2000 by Steve Maharey in response to improving participation and achievement of Maori in tertiary studies. It was part of a three-pronged approach which also includes the production of a manual outlining good initiatives that are currently happening and changes to Charters to ensure a mechanism is in place to report outcomes.

“This Government directed approach is welcomed. It addresses the need for institutions to be more responsive to the needs of Maori students, after all, students are their bread and butter. For too long we have been proactive and ignored. Its time that institutions come to the party”, comments Danica Waiti, Kaituhono for Te Mana Akonga.

The funding is focused on improving participation and achievement of Maori students, with an impetus placed on addressing low levels of retention.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that retention levels for Maori students are low. Although the development of initiatives to help Maori students complete their studies instead of dropping out is a worthwhile approach, the Government must conduct nationwide research on retention levels at TEI’s”, says Miss Waiti.

The onus is on institutions to develop Maori student support systems or initiatives, made clear in all Government communications.

“It is the responsibility of the institution to see that this funding is used appropriately. We do not want another situation similar to that which has been reported to occur within schools and Maori Language Factor Funding”, says Miss Waiti.

In a letter sent out to institutions the Minister of Tertiary Education made it very clear that consultation with Maori communities must take place in order to prioritise initiatives for funding.

“We have heard stories that suggest that consultation is not taking place. Institutions are taking it upon themselves to decide how Maori students can best be supported. I am confident that many of them will not have a clue about what works on the ground level and the needs of Maori students and staff. Lets start the consultation ball rolling”, concludes Miss Waiti.

For further information contact:

Danica Waiti Ph. 04 498 2506 or 021 440 279
Te Mana Akonga (Inc).

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