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Director Says Wananga Delivers Benefits to NZ

Business School Director says Te Wânanga o Aotearoa delivers benefits to New Zealand

Keith Ikin, the director of Te Wanaga o Aotearoa’s School of Sustainable Business Management is confident about the future of New Zealand’s largest tertiary provider and proud of its accomplishments.

Te Wânanga o Aotearoa has been the subject of much media attention recently as politicians have sought to gain advantage over one another by making allegations about the Wânanga, its students and its staff.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard recently announced that he has taken further steps towards the appointment of a commissioner to take over the management of the Wananga. It is a move that Keith Ikin feels is unnecessary and based more on politics than on helping the organisation to manage change.

“It’s unfortunate and frustrating,” says Ikin. “As the political climate heats up, government gets more interested in political spin than in supporting positive outcomes for Mâori and New Zealanders.”

Ikin points out that New Zealanders aren’t getting the whole story about Te Wânanga o Aotearoa: “This is a successful and innovative institution that has learned to think outside the square when it comes to education.”

“We offer education for all New Zealanders that is accessible and relevant,” says Ikin. “And we provide real opportunities for second chance learners who have a desire to succeed. We take barriers to education seriously by offering flexible programmes where students live. Many of our courses build learning and life skills, with students completing these programmes “staircasing” into higher level courses.”

“What we have done has had a big impact on Mâori,” says Ikin. “In 1986, 68.5 percent of working age Mâori had no qualification, while in 1987, only 48 percent of Mâori students aged 16 stayed at school. In the last few years these numbers have got better – much better. In 2003, the number of working age Mâori with no qualifications fell to 39.3 percent, while the proportion of Mâori students staying at school past the age of 16 rose to 61 percent.”

“A large part of this turn around is due to Te Wânanga o Aotearoa,” says Ikin.

According to Keith Ikin, New Zealanders shouldn’t think that Te Wânanga o Aotearoa has just brought benefits to Mâori. Says Ikin: “A study conducted by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has shown that the Wânanga contributes almost as much as the entire forestry sector to New Zealand’s GDP.”

“The Wânanga has grown in recent years because it has been innovative in meeting the needs of students,” says Ikin. “Education Minister Trevor Mallard needs to remember that our programmes have had a positive impact on hundreds of communities throughout New Zealand. He needs to stop playing politics and start working more constructively with this country’s largest tertiary education provider.”


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