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Mâori students meet with UN Rapporteur

25 November 2005

Mâori students meet with United Nations Special Rapporteur

Today’s poroaki at Te Herenga Waka marae, Victoria University in Wellington, concluded the four day Hui Kaiarahi of Te Mana Âkonga, the executives hui of the National Mâori Tertiary Students’ Association.

The hui included guest speakers Moana Jackson, Peter Moeau, Tere Harrison, Rangi Te Kanawa and a meeting with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples, Rodolfo Stavenhagen. The meeting with the Special Rapporteur was held at Archives New Zealand, organised by Bill Hamilton of the Human Rights Commission.

“We are extremely thankful to have been able to meet with him,” said Veronica Tawhai, Kaitûhono of Te Mana Âkonga. “We told him his visit to Aotearoa would not have been complete if he did not hear of the experiences of indigenous students in the current tertiary education system”.

The Te Mana Âkonga submission to the Special Rapporteur focused upon the need of Mâori to borrow more from the Student Loan Scheme to met the rising cost of tertiary education in New Zealand, and the current effects and long term implications of this debt on Mâori.

“Specifically we highlighted how our debt is reaching into decisions such as having children and becoming home-owners. Two thirds of Mâori students are over the age of 25, with a third of that group being over the age of 40. The need to save for a home, provide for ones children, all while paying back a sizeable student loan will doubtlessly have a massive impact on the wellbeing of our whânau” said Miss Tawhai. “We need to raise questions about the implications this will have for the Mâori economy as a whole in the future”.

The Special Rapporteur was presented with the submission accompanied by information on Mâori student participation, achievement, debt and economic position after studying. “He told us he would take our submission very seriously, by looking further into the issues for Mâori students’ in tertiary education.

He also spoke of Te Mana Âkonga connecting into other indigenous student networks world-wide” said Miss Tawhai. “To say the least we are thrilled with his response. It was a very emotional submission, we are glad to know we connected with him, and look forward to his report and the debate and growth it may produce in Aotearoa” concluded Miss Tawhai.


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