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Maori Party calls for Inquiry into Kohanga Reo

Maori Party calls for Inquiry into Kohanga Reo

Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party Monday

27 February 2006

Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party, told a Marae documentary into Te Kohanga Reo National Trust, that the "practices at a national level are highly questionable".

Her comments were made following concerns that have been raised from kohanga reo throughout the motu into the legality and ethics of the National Trust Property Putea policy.

Te Kohanga Reo National Trust was established in 1982 to advocate for, promote, encourage and support kohanga reo and whanau.

"Maori have always celebrated the unique initiative pioneered by the kohanga reo trust, to immerse our mokopuna in their language, customs and values. Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Maori" stated Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party.

"We have, however, been concerned about the questions that have come from kohanga whanau regarding the impact of the Property Putea" stated Mrs Turia.

"Kohanga members have been concerned that the amount of disposable income available to kohanga reo was being limited" said Mrs Turia "because a proportion of the funding kohanga receive from their bulk grant was being directed to the National Trust".

The Property Putea was a policy agreed to by the Kohanga Reo National Trust and the Ministry of Education in which the distribution of the Discretionary Grants Scheme (DGS) was able to be used as a loan by the National Trust.

"The Gallen report in 2001 suggested there may be 'legal questions' around the Ministry's involvement in allowing past DGS payments to be used as a loan" said Mrs Turia.

"It also suggested the Trust would be answerable for

"the inequity created amongst the kohanga reo whanau, namely those who have repaid their loan, those who are currently paying off their loans, and those who will receive the grant and will not be required to repay as a loan".

"In light of these ongoing concerns last week our education spokesperson, Te Ururoa Flavell, tabled a request for an inquiry with the Education and Science Select Committee" said Mrs Turia.

"The inquiry calls for an assessment of user satisfaction at the individual kohanga level, in the interpretation of compliances and regulations at the local level initiated by the National Trust; and their impact on kohanga reo".

"Within the context of this inquiry, we will also be asking questions of the Government as to the legality of the Property Putea scheme, with particular interest in the role of the Minister of Education at that time, and the Ministry of Education in this policy" said Mrs Turia.

"The original vision from the early beginnings of kohanga" said Mrs Turia, "was that the assets and resources would be devolved to whanau, so that the decision-making and accountability would reside at a whanau and hapu level".

"The reason we have asked for this inquiry is that we have received too many questions, asking who has benefitted from the Trust's activities".

"The Maori Party is also asking questions as to why such concerns are still current, five years after the Gallen Report first brought them to the attention of the Government".

"We will await the response of the Select Committee with great interest".

Background Information

The working group chaired by Sir Rodney Gallen recommended that DGS monies be used to establish new kohanga reo buildings, to enable buildings to be licensed without incurring repayments by those kohanga reo receiving capital funding.

The working group called for the Property Putea to be discontinued, but stated that "the Government has a responsibility to support the Trust to work through the implications of changing its policy".

On 27 March 2003 a new tripartite agreement was signed between Education Minister, Maori Affairs Minister and Te Kohanga Reo National Trust. The agreement was to provide a significant opportunity for the Government and the National Trust "to strengthen its relationship so that quality results for both whanau and mokopuna, are delivered in kohanga reo, as recommended by the joint working group chaired by Sir Rodney Gallen".

ENDS

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