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Matt Robson MP, Graduation Te Wananga o Aotearoa

Matt Robson MP, Graduation at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Tokoroa

Speech for delivery 11am Friday 11 June

Graduation ceremony Te Wananga o Aotearoa Tokoroa campus, Ashworth Street

To our tupuna

To the Tumuaki of Te Wanaga o Aotearoa Dr Rongo Wetere To the director of this campus Carlson Winihana To the staff of this wonderful institution of learning To the tauira here today To all of the distinguished rangatira and guests from far and wide who have gathered to celebrate and honour those who have made this day possible To those who have sacrificed but cannot be with us And to my special friends Ta Howard Morrison and Mita Mohi who have accompanied me today

He mihinui ki a katou katoa

It is a great honour for me to be asked to address the graduates of Te Wananga o Aotearoa at the Tokoroa Campus.

I salute the staff and the faces of Te Ao Apopo that I see in front of me. You, tauira, are the new leaders who will step forward in our communities utilizing the skills and knowledge fostered here at the Wananga.

I address you in the presence of a great visionary who saw that the wisdom and knowledge handed down and maintained by generations could lay the basis for an educational institution that would benefit the whole nation, Maori and non–Maori, and would continue to develop over time.

The vision of Buck Nin as laid out in the prospectus has come to fruition through the Wananga:

Ko te whakarite matauranga E hangai ana ki nga wawata O tenei whakatupuranga, kite Whakau hoki I nga moemoea O nga whakatupuranga o te Ao turoa, kite whakatikatika Kia marama ai kit e ha o te ao Tawhito.

To provide an education that Best fits the aspirations of This generation, enhances the Dreams of future generations. Prepares for understanding The essence of past Generations

Ki te whakato ki roto i Te hinengaro tangata te Mohiotanga o nga taonga Tuku iho, to ratau reo, to Ratau torotoro I nga iwi o te Ao I runga I te maia me te Manawanui

To equip our people with Knowledge of their heritage. Their language, their culture So they can handle the world At large with confidence and self-determination.

The tauira graduating are proof that this vision has been fulfilled.

The tauira of this Wananga and the other campuses I am sure are not He rangi ta Matawhaiti. The person who with a narrow vision sees only a narrow horizon. But He rangi ta Matawhanui, the person who with a wide vision sees a wide horizon.

And with that whakatauki I have a humble plea to my Parliamentary colleague, the National Party spokesperson on Education, the Hon. Bill English, who sits with me in Te Whare Paremata.

Bill I believe has pledged a National-led government to cut funding to Te Wananga o Aotearoa. With respect, Mr English, please have more faith in our young people. Get in behind and be happy that laptop computers are now going to students who need them to overcome hurdles to learning and improving their lives and the lives of those around them.

Mr English, please re-read Buck Nin’s words which I am sure he would agree are visionary: It is important to:

Kia Mutu tonu. He Kainga pai tenei ao.

To make contributions of consequence. To care. To Make our world a better place. Mr English, two years ago you went to the country asking to be our Prime Minister and Leader. You promised that you would do your best to make society a better place for all.

I came late to knowing about the work of the Wananga. And recently I took a hikoi with my eldest son to four campuses.

We saw enthusiasm and commitment from kaiako and tauira.

We saw learning from bridging courses, through traditional arts through to information technology that is state of the art learning. And I learnt of future plans to take learning into new and unchartered waters like the Polynesian navigators of old.

We saw a “unique whanau environment,” as stated in the prospectus, translated into reality and embracing all cultures that make up our present day New Zealand.

When I first heard of an educational institution that took literacy seriously through the Greenlight programme, which your wonderful tutors from a far-away developing nation in the Caribbean called Cuba are implementing, I knew that here was an institution that did not want anyone to miss out on the treasure that is learning because they had missed out elsewhere in the educational system.

And I say to the kore take MP who attacked that: I think that you could benefit from enrolling in the Greenlight programme.

The Wanaga is meeting the challenge of the future without disregarding the wisdom of the past, of our tupuna. It is showing a way forward in the unity of learning.

On our recent hikoi I was challenged by one of the students at the Te Awamutu campus and I want to read you part of her letter to me:

“I feel that my basic right to learn in an environment where I feel positive about learning has been denied me with the capping of our numbers in Te Wananga O Aotearoa.

"The things that I wish to learn about are not available to me under any other learning establishment in my area.

"I take it as a personal attack on my learning potential as a woman, a mother, a nanny, and especially a Maori.

"We are a minority in this country now – surely any form of learning for my people should be looked upon as positive.

"When numbers are so great within this establishment that it threatens the existence of other learning institutions shouldn’t government be asking ‘what are they doing right?’ ”.

The question is a good one. The Progressive party will take up this question in government. We will also give our support to the success that is evident before us. To the tauira I say in conclusion:

He maramatanga to Tenei whetu He Maramatanga ano to Tera whetu

Each star has its own luminescence or presence in the sky.

I am sure that we will see the star of each you shine..

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