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Report Documents Serious Failings

6 December 2005

Report Documents Serious Failings

“The findings of the Auditor-General’s Report speak for themselves.

“The report documents serious failings of management.

“The report clearly identifies the Tumuaki (Chief Executive Officer) as primarily responsible for the behaviour that led to those findings.

“The former Council is also identified as providing inadequate governance during the period covered by the report

“The rapid growth of Te Wananga o Aotearoa during the period covered by the report provides some context for the behaviour documented in the report but it is not an excuse for that behaviour.

“The report also acknowledges the role of Te Wananga o Aotearoa in providing second chance education opportunities for many thousands of people.

“After the Council was downsized from 14 to five members in June this year, the new Council took immediate action. It began its own inquiries into the behaviour of the Chief Executive Officer and placed him on paid leave pending the outcome of those inquiries.

This process was challenged by the Chief Executive Officer in the Employment Relations Authority and his challenge was dismissed. The Chief Executive Officer appealed to the Employment Court and the Council’s ability to discipline the CEO was delayed. The case will be heard by the Employment Court later this month and the Court has indicated the decision will be out before Xmas. “

At the same time, the smaller Council quickly began a programme of reform. The organisation was restructured, a new executive management team was recruited and existing courses were assessed for their value to students and the Wananga. A consultation process for staff and students on further changes is currently underway.

“The result of this reform process is that Te Wananga o Aotearoa is today a substantially different organisation to that depicted in the Report of the Auditor General.

“The Council of Te Wananga o Aotearoa understands that the behaviour depicted in the report will shock. It is also important to stress that the report does not touch on the quality of education provided by Te Wananga o Aotearoa and the Wananga continues, with dedicated teachers providing valued education to many thousands. That dedication and hard work has continued throughout the turbulence of 2005. I am confident that the commitment of staff and students will not waver in the days and weeks to come.”

Te Wânanga o Aotearoa: Background

• In 2005 TWOA delivered 101 programmes to 56000 full-time and part-time students (or 27000 Equivalent Full-Time Students EFTS). This is down from a peak of 34000 EFTS in 2003.

• These programmes covered areas such as Maori language, business and computer studies, traditional Maori arts including carving & weaving, employment & life skills, social sciences, and programmes for recent immigrants.

• The largest programmes in terms of students were Te Ara Reo Maori language with 6200 EFTS, Kiwi Ora – A New Life in New Zealand with 3500 EFTS, Computing with 2400 EFTS, Mahi Ora – Employment Skills with 1750 EFTS, and Small Business Management with 1350 EFTS.

• The 2004 student course completion rate was 74% and the retention rate was 83%. (“Completion Rate” is the proportion of successful students, the “Retention Rate” is the proportion of students who attempted all the assessments and stayed till the end of the programme)

• In 2004, 24% of students were enrolled in further tertiary education. Of the 2004 Wananga graduates, 78% have since been in full-time or part-time work. 94% of our students expressed satisfaction with our programmes.

• Programmes are delivered in classrooms, marae, and at home. The Wânanga has 11 main campuses throughout New Zealand and collaborates with 15 Private Training Establishments (PTE) and polytechnics to offer training opportunities where they are needed. One of our largest programmes, “Mahi Ora”, is also delivered by The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand as “Lifeworks.”

Student Profile

• The typical Wânanga student is a 34 year old Maori woman, with no secondary school qualifications, who was previously unemployed.

• In 2005 25,457 Maori were enrolled at Te Wânanga o Aotearoa, or 45% of our total student number. 67% of students are female, 33% male. The median age for students was 34 years. 40% of students left school with no qualifications.

“Wânanga providing effective access to tertiary education.

Wânanga continue to play an important role in providing access to tertiary education for Maori and other groups. The numbers of students at wânanga continue to grow, with wânanga achieving higher retention and completion rates at certificate level than other sub-sectors. 24% of students who completed a level 1 to 3 certificate at a wânanga in 2002 enrolled in a higher level qualification in 2003 (compared with 29% for universities and 18% for polytechnics)”

Extract from the Tertiary Education Strategy Monitoring Report 2004, Ministry of Education.

Waitangi Tribunal Hearings

The Waitangi Tribunal last week completed urgent hearings on a number of issues relating to Te Wananga o Aotearoa. The hearings followed a request from the Aotearoa Institute, a charitable trust which was instrumental in founding the Wananga. The Trust is the subject of comments in the Report of the Auditor-General into aspects of the administration of Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

The Trust’s claims to the Tribunal centre on allegations that the Crown is seeking to control the size of the Wananga and the range of courses offered to students. Part of the claim includes allegations that the Council of Te Wananga o Aotearoa is controlled by the Crown.

In June this year the Council decided to reduce in size from 14 members to five. The aim of this change was to form a Council that was better able to manage the following urgent issues:
• A trend of falling enrolments that began in 2003. This reduced income at a time when costs and staff numbers were rising. A deficit was recorded for 2004 and another is forecast for 2005. The deterioration of the Wananga’s financial position saw the appointment of a Crown Manager with responsibility for all financial delegations in March 2005 and the provision of a loan facility to assist the Wananga to meet its financial obligations. The Minister of Education subsequently began a process under the Education Act to determine if a Commissioner should be appointed to manage the Wananga.

• The investigation of the Auditor-General arising from allegations made in Parliament in February 2005.

• Changes in government tertiary education policy which reduced the priority of participation compared with criteria relating to relevance and quality.

A document setting out these issues for staff, Te Anga Whakamua, and explaining the need for restructuring of the organisation is available at www.twoa.ac.nz

Witnesses at the Waitangi Tribunal for the Aotearoa Institute alleged the Council’s decision to reduce the size of the Council was part of a bargain reached between the Council and the Minister of Education. This is not the case.

While the Council made the Minister aware of the changes proposed, at no stage was there an agreement that such changes would reduce the chances of a Commissioner being appointed. In any event, the primary criterion for the appointment of a Commissioner is a financial one. Improved management of our financial position in 2005 meant that the Wananga would pass this test.

The allegation of Crown control of the Council is also contradicted by:

• The vigorous debate the Council and management have had with the Tertiary Education Commission and the Ministry of Education on the range of courses for which the Wananga will receive funding in future years. This debate has yet to be concluded but we are confident that the Wananga will continue to offer a wide range of courses and that our most successful courses will continue to be funded.

• Our continuing objections to attempts by the Ministry of Education to impose a quota on Maori students at the Wananga. The quota issue arose during negotiations in 2004 over the final installment of the Treaty settlement on capital funding reached between the Wananga and the Crown in 2000. The final instalment is a suspensory loan of $20m, the first stage of which was due to be paid in 2004.

As part of that settlement the Wananga agreed to a condition that no more than 20% of students would be non-Maori. The Council and management argue that the restriction is no longer relevant because of the growth of Maori enrolments since the settlement was reached. In addition, Te Wananga o Aotearoa prides itself on providing an education to all within a framework of Maori values. We are the only tertiary institution in New Zealand that offers this opportunity to all New Zealanders. Negotiations on the payment of the loan continue.

Current members of Council are:

Craig Coxhead (Chair) - Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Waikato Tania Hodges – Educational Consultant Lloyd Anderson – Staff Nurse Wira Gardiner – former Director of Civil Defence, Chief Executive of Te Puni Kokiri, Company Director and Iwi administrator Richard Batley – Fishing company Chief Executive High Court

A High Court ruling was sought this month as to whether six members of the Council had in fact resigned when the Council reduced in size in June this year. The High Court agreed that the resignations had taken place. An appeal against this ruling has been lodged with the Court of Appeal and will be heard early next year.

ENDS

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