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Waitangi Tribunal Hears Wananga Claim

12 October 2005

Aotearoa Institute Te Kuratini o Nga Waka Trust Board

Waitangi Tribunal Hears Te Wananga O Aotearoa Claim

Dr Tui John Adams and Mr Harold Maniapoto, spokespeople for the Aotearoa Institute, say that they have mixed feelings about the Aotearoa Institute’s opportunity to have its say before the Waitangi Tribunal tomorrow when its application for urgency is heard.

They say “they are keen to have their day in court, the shame of it is that we have been forced to take the Crown to the Waitangi Tribunal again, because it has failed to work with Maori to ensure the prosperity of a unique education institution serving the needs of all New Zealanders.”

“The situation is urgent and we have no other remedy available. The Wananga Council is being dominated by crown interests. That Council is currently negotiating a charter with the Crown that will impose a quota of 100% Maori on the Wananga by 2008. The Wananga faces a future of expelled non-Maori students, reduced EFTS and staff being laid off.”

“If the Crown is allowed to continue down this path, Te Wananga o Aotearoa will be a wananga in name only, and it will be cut off from the iwi and communities that created it, who will have no role in its future.”

“We will not stand by and watch this happen.”

“We took the Crown to the Waitangi Tribunal in 1998, and it found in our favour. The Crown accepted the Tribunals findings and recommendations and apologised to us. Now, not only has it failed to fully implement the settlement by failing to pay the suspensory loan, the Crown is committing numerous new breaches of the Treaty.

As we speak, those breaches are causing irreversible prejudice to Te Wananga o Aotearoa and the students it serves.”

Mr Maniapoto and Dr Adams are particularly angry that the Crown’s lawyers have failed to understand the nature of Aotearoa Institute’s claim.

“They say that there is no need for the Waitangi Tribunal to inquire into our claim because the Auditor-General is going to report on the Wananga. That is an insult. We understand that the Auditor-General can only inquire into financial matters, and has no power to consider breaches of the Treaty.”

“The Crown cannot seriously be trying to tell us that the Auditor-General will be reporting on the Crown’s:

- Breach of the Treaty principles of partnership and good faith;
- Breach of the Article 2 obligation to guarantee Maori the right to exercise rangatiratanga over its taonga;
- Failure to actively protect a taonga under Article 2;
- Failure to allow the right of development of a taonga under Article 2;
- Breach of Article 3 to not subject TWOA to racial discrimination; and
- Breach of its obligations of proper governance.”

“That is just a selection of Treaty breaches that we have alleged in this claim.”

“It is true that the Crown’s failure to pay the suspensory loan was the cause of this claim. But it is the manner in which the Crown failed to pay the suspensory loan, and the actions it has been able to take as a result of non-payment, which lie at the heart of this claim. This claim is not about money alone. This claim is about who controls Te Wananga o Aotearoa and what a wananga is. It is also about how Treaty partners should deal with each other when problems arise.”

“We have stated before that the Wananga is a racially inclusive institution and that we will not allow the Crown to impose an apartheid policy on a cherished taonga. Te Wananga o Aotearoa is about what and how education is provided, and not about who it is provided to. As its name suggests, it is an institution for all New Zealanders. That is what the communities and iwi that created Te Wananga o Aotearoa envisaged when it was established, and we are seeking to protect their right to adhere to that vision.”

“That is why we have come to the Waitangi Tribunal, and that is why we are proud to be here.”

Aotearoa Institute applied for an urgent hearing of its Waitangi Tribunal Claim on 19 September 2005. The Waitangi Tribunal has decided to convene a conference to hear the claimants and other interested parties, rather than deal with the application for urgency on the papers. The judicial conference will commence at 1pm at the Duxton Hotel in Wellington.

If the Waitangi Tribunal grants urgency, it will determine the procedure to be followed for Aotearoa Institute’s substantive claim, with the aim of hearing and reporting on the claim as quickly as possible.


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