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Address to Te Koru Puawai o Aotearoa National Hui

Address to Te Koru Puawai o Aotearoa National Hui

Hone Harawira, Maori Party MP for Te Tai Tokerau

I bring the best wishes of the leadership of the Maori Party to the New Zealand School Trustees Association and its President Chris Haines, and most especially to Te Koru Puawai o Aotearoa, your chairperson Richard Orzecki, and the membership gathered here today.

The concept of ‘strengthening governance - from good to great’ - is at the top of everyone’s agenda - evidenced by the record number of registrations for this hui.  It is a concept which the Maori Party is very interested in, and we look forward to receiving your recommendations at the end of your hui.

I was keen to take up this opportunity to speak to your conference today for a number of reasons.

What is ‘strength’?

The first is because I am a school trustee myself. I am chairman of Te Rangi Aniwaniwa, a complete Maori education centre in the far north which includes kohanga, kura, wharekura and wananga.

We’ve recently instituted a new pouarahi management structure, and we’re keen for new ideas. And like other kura we too are guided by Te Aho Matua, but areas like mainstream curriculum changes, monitoring, assessments, evaluations and other compliance requirements continue to

challenge us.

How do we ensure we meet local iwi aspirations, national guidelines and Te Aho Matua? Well, we try to keep our mind on the big picture, but focus our activities on the local stuff. Howard Fancy and even Te Runanganui o nga Kura Kaupapa Maori o Aotearoa may have views on how we should operate, but at the end of the day we are firstly accountable to the whanau of the Te Rangi Aniwaniwa and the iwi of Muriwhenua.

So when I think about the challenge of ‘strengthening governance’ I don’t think of adding rules or building bureaucracy; I think of how the whanau can be strengthened, and of how they can come to own their kura, its resources, and its future. At Te Rangi Aniwaniwa we take the view that

we must control our development, and that whanau are an integral part in our kura’s overall plan.

Representation:

Another reason I came was so that the Maori Party itself can learn from the commitment many of you give to your school communities.

School trustee elections are the nation’s largest democratic event, and the 2004 data shows there were about 19,800 school trustees, of which 11,700 were parent reps. That’s massive - almost as big as the membership of the Maori Party.

But in a country that says we can’t talk about targeting ethnicity - it seems board representation is definitely defined by ethnicity. Again from 2004, there was one Pakeha trustee for every 27 Pakeha students, but for Maori it was only one for 48. Worse still, nearly three hundred schools

had no Maori parent reps at all.

This was one of the aspects that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and indigenous issues commented on in his New Zealand report in March this year when he observed that Maori representation at the local level is “still rather low” and more needed to be done to

“guarantee adequate representation of Maori in the legislature and at the regional and local governance levels”.

Maori Electoral System:

An interesting comparative can be provided when looking at the fate of the 2006 Maori electoral option.

Maori have had a big wake up call this week with the release of the updated electoral figures which showed that while 12,000 Maori have gone from the General to the Maori roll, nearly 6500 have gone the other way. It beggars belief. Although Pio Terei comes on screen saying ‘kei a koe te

tikanga’, we have always felt that the bold, the intelligent, and the pro-Maori would always choose to enrol and to vote Maori.

I am a proud father of seven kids and any time now, will be the proud grandfather of my third mokopuna, and their futures are absolutely tied up with my choice to stay on the Maori Electoral Roll. Their tupuna signed a treaty which guaranteed them "tino rangatiratanga" - the unqualified

exercise of their chieftainship over their lands their forests and all other taonga. But in order for our generation and our descendents to ensure the responsible balancing of kawanatanga and rangatiratanga, we must be able to give the Treaty the mana it deserves.

More Maori seats means more Maori in the House; more Maori seats means more Mana in the House; and being on the Maori roll is the only way we can defend Maori rights and advance Maori interests.

It is the only way to ensure representation which is in direct line with our population. If every Maori enrolled on the Maori roll, we would have a maximum of 13 seats - the balance of power.

Representation or Repression:

So when we found out how sad the statistics were, we decided to take drastic action - and so we have embarked on a whirlwind nationwide roadshow to drum up some support for the Maori roll.

The goals are ones which I would think parallel your own.

We want to encourage Maori to step up to the mark, to have a say, to influence the way in which their nation is governed and their country is run; and I know that you want to encourage Maori to step up to the mark, to have a say, to influence the way in which their school, their community,

their district is run.

Back in 2004, the Ministry of Education ran a programme to attract more Maori into trusteeship. The campaign slogan was ‘stand and be counted - e tu tangata’, and the contract to encourage Maori to stand was won by NZSTA. The Association established Te Koru Puawai o Aotearoa to support Maori Trustees, and the rest is history. Numbers were increased and morale improved, although the ratio has a long way to go yet before Maori can be satisfied - for Pakeha one to 27, for Maori one to 48.

But having established a model that works, you would think that when it came to the 2007 elections the Ministry would simply consult its own records, and dial Te Koru Puawai. Not even. We hear that for next year’s elections, no money has been allocated to promote the important goal of supporting Maori to becoming governors of schools in their local communities.

The morale of the story is … ‘e tu tangata’ is ok - but once is enough maori boy.

When the Ministry’s review of school operational grants reports back on 31 October this year, we hope that they will remember the positive results of the tu tangata initiative; consider the vital role that trustees play in managing schools and developing positive behaviour, and back up that realisation with increases in operational grants for all schools.

Relationships and dreams:

Finally, the Maori Party believes that effective relationships are pivotal to the success of any activity, including education.

I salute you for your commitment to your children’s future. In particular I congratulate those of you who are Maori parent reps in mainstream schools. It’s tough enough running a kura. I wouldn’t have the resilience or the strength to last in an environment that can often be negative for Maori, and for that strength I honour you here today.

I also want you to know that the Maori Party is happy to walk with you to ensure our mokopuna’s interests are advanced, and to stand beside you should you need a hand.

Many of us have already taken the step of registering on the Maori roll to advance our peoples interests, and you have taken another step by putting yourselves forward as caretakers of your children’s educational future. We wish you well in your endeavours.

Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon one can use to change the world’.  We need to invest in that future - and that involves us all.


Ends

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