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Kohanga Reo Left at the Back of the Line

Kohanga Reo Left at the Back of the Line

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader, Maori Party; and Te Ururoa Flavell, Education Spokesperson for the Maori Party

Thursday 23 November 2006

Dr Pita Sharples today raised concerns in the House about the omission of kohanga reo from the list of approved early childhood centres who will qualify for twenty hours of free childcare.

“We couldn’t believe it when we looked at the list of 2715 early childhood centres that had been approved for the twenty hours of free childcare, and only one (Ritimana Kohanga Reo Childcare Centre in Ponsonby) appeared to be a kohanga reo” said Dr Sharples, Member of Parliament for Tamaki Makaurau.

“It appears from answers to questions in the house by Mr Horomia (Associate Minister of Education) that kohanga reo – and play-centres – are being discriminated against because they are whanau-led rather than teacher directed” said Dr Sharples.

“This is not only in direct contradiction to the tikanga and whakapapa pertaining to kohanga reo – it is also in breach of the Government’s own statement of Desirable Objectives and Practices” said Dr Sharples.

“Our whanau, hapu and iwi have always seen the strength of kohanga reo as providing a vital foundation for the growth and revitalisation of te reo Maori” said Te Ururoa Flavell, Education Spokesperson for the Maori Party.

“The decision to undermine kohanga reo by denying them the twenty hours free funding will have enormous implications for the viability of kohanga reo, and indeed kura kaupapa Maori” said Mr Flavell.

“Maori parents want to know, upfront, what explanation could possibly justify kohanga reo being left off the list”.

“I was involved many years ago now, in complex and extremely detailed negotiations about a training programme to achieve an outcome which would satisfy both the expectations of the Ministry of Education and the Kohanga Reo National Trust” recalled Dr Sharples.

“We were able to establish a Maori based training provider through Whanau Whakapakari which was agreed upon, paid for and able to operate as a bona fide qualification. It is of huge concern to now find that this qualification doesn’t meet the grade – and whanau will obviously want to know why”.


The government’s statement of Desirable Objectives and Practices (DOPs) establishes the agreed national objectives for the provision of early childhood education and care. It is mandatory for early childhood services in New Zealand to meet the objectives outlined in the DOPs statement. The DOPs are founded on two guiding principles.

The first principle requires early childhood services to work in partnership with parents/whanau to promote and extend the learning and development of each child who attends or receives the service.


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