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Te Kōhanga Reo Celebrates Historic Waitangi Tribunal Report

Press Release
Thursday 18 October

Te Kōhanga Reo Celebrates Historic Waitangi Tribunal Report

Today Te Kōhanga National Trust Board received the report of the Waitangi Tribunal, marking the conclusion of the Trust Board’s urgent claim to the Waitangi Tribunal.

The Report vindicates the claims of Te Kōhanga Reo and its decision to take an urgent claim to the Tribunal. It acknowledges that Te reo Maori is in a perilous state, and that Kōhanga Reo is inexplicably linked to the preservation of te reo as a living language.

The report is historic. Never before has a Tribunal report recommended that an interim independent advisor oversee and implement the Tribunal’s recommendations who will be appointed by, and report directly to, the Prime Minister. This demonstrates the significance of the Kōhanga report.

The Tribunal said that the Treaty of Waitangi protects the right of Maori to choose their cultural path. Kōhanga Reo is a result of Maori choice. It is the preferred vehicle to transmit Te Reo Maori. The Treaty requires Kohanga to be funded equitably with the western model of teacher led ECE. Otherwise, the Tribunal said there is a “looming disaster in the ability of kohanga reo to function” and there is “the very real prospect that effectively a third of the kohanga reo operations will have to cease.”

The Trust Board is committed to working constructively with whanau and Ministers to implement the report’s many positive recommendations as soon as possible.

“After decades of mainstreaming by the Crown, this report finally proves what we knew all along; Kōhanga Reo is driven by whanau, supported by iwi, hapu and a number of significant Maori organisations. Kohanga Reo is inexplicably linked to the revitalisation of Te Reo Māori” said Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Trustee of the Trust Board.

“The Tribunal has found that the Government’s policy does not adequately provide for the unique role and contribution of kohanga.” said Tina Olsen-Ratana, Co-Chair Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board.

The Tribunal upheld the Trust Board’s claims. Its key findings and recommendations are that the Crown:

• Through the Prime Minister, appoint an interim independent advisor to oversee the implementations of the Tribunal’s recommendations and to redevelop the engagement between government agencies and the Trust;
• The Tribunal supports the Trust and the Crown’s consideration of separate legislative recognition for kohanga reo, but “in the meantime, the Crown will need to ensure that funding support for kohanga reo is provided.”
• Through the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the independent advisor, oversees and facilitates the urgent completion of a work programme developed by the Trust Board and the Crown in accordance with the Tripartite Agreement.
• Through the Ministry of Education and Te Puni Kōkiri, discusses and collaborates with the Trust to research the effects and impacts of the kōhanga reo model including how to support and build on the contribution that kōhanga reo make to language transmission and Māori educational success as Māori.
• Through the Ministry of Education, Te Puni Kōkiri, and the Trust, informs Māori whānau of the relative benefits for mokopuna in attending kōhanga reo with respect to te reo Māori and education outcomes. They should also be informed of the importance of bilingual/immersion programmes if te reo Māori is to survive as a living language.
Formally acknowledges and apologises to the Trust and kōhanga reo for the failure of its ECE polices to sufficiently provide for kōhanga reo. In making such an acknowledgement and apology the Crown should also agree to meet the reasonable legal expenses of the Trust in bringing this claim.

Te Kōhanga Reo Trust Board is now taking the Report around the country to korero with Kōhanga whanau.

Te Kōhanga Reo Trust Board has written to Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key, Minister of Education Hon Hekia Parata, and Minister of Māori Affairs Hon Pita Sharples, requesting to meet with them to discuss the Tribunal’s recommendations.

In the interim Te Kōhanga Reo Trust Board is asking for a moratorium on any new policy decisions by the Ministry of Education that impact of Kōhanga Reo.


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