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Brash's Visit an Honour

Brash s’ Visit an Honour

Susan Cullen, the daughter of Chief Executive Officer Rongo Wetere, has come out today in defence of Dr Brashs visit to the Wananga yesterday, saying that it was an honour for the people to meet face to face.

“ We all were honoured and excited by the National Party calling in at short notice, it shows that the National Party obviously feel comfortable in coming to visit.” She said.

When questioned about the fact that Brash said that Wananga was an embarrassment to the Labour government, she said she agreed.“ We are so successful at delivering education to the community in a way that has never been done before, of course we are an embarrassment. The education system has struggled for 150 years to deliver education to marginalized Maori and Pakeha communities, it has struggled for years to protect and maintain Maori language and customs, it has never created immigrant settlement or small enterprise development, and it never protected Maori trade training. It’s embarrassing because we show the government up.”

I agree with Brash and English’s view that the issues of Wananga are issues of lack of government leadership, but only in terms of continuous lack of understanding about the pedagogy of the institution and the value of its contribution to society. I don’t agree with their suggestion that we offer low value soft meaningless programmes, or any programme of low value, 300,000 people over the past few years in New Zealand wouldn’t enrol in low value programmes, that speaks for itself. I admire the National caucus for coming here to create a better relationship and to encourage understanding.”

Cullen is one of the key family members who is part of the audited review in respect to her Mahi Ora and Kiwi Ora programmes. Her father Rongo Wetere is currently on leave working on his response to the draft. When asked about the audit report and it’s findings she responded that the report is a very thorough review of the issues, and that she looked forward to its publication so that everything could be in the public arena.

She said she recently received a very warm letter from Ken Shirley the Act MP who made all the allegations about her family under parliamentary privilege in February, saying that all he wanted to ensure was that there was good governance at the Wananga.

She says that letter might have something to do with the publication of Tihei Wananga a book on the 25 years of history, which shows the length of service and support the Wetere family and the leaders of the Wananga have contributed to the institution. “ Its about honouring our past and honouring each other”she said. “ It’s just sad that Ken Shirley, didn’t know then, what he knows now, its why he has been so quiet in the media lately.”

She is positive about the future for the Wananga. “ Its about change and it’s about the institution maturing it’s leadership, its about keeping the government honest about its obligations to ensuring and protecting Maori education, not just for Maori but for all New Zealanders, that’s our collective inheritance. We welcome this and trust that the people will bring the right leadership into being this election night.”


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