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Labour Votes Treaty out, Again

Labour Votes Treaty out, Again says Maori Party

Te Ururoa Flavell, Education Spokesperson for the Maori Party

Friday 16 November 2007

“What part of the Treaty commitment don’t they get?” asked Te Ururoa Flavell, reflecting on Labour’s latest actions in voting down the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in the Education (Tertiary Reforms) Amendment Bill.

The tertiary reforms legislation was considered, in committee, late Thursday afternoon. Te Ururoa Flavell sought to move two amendments, one to specify consultation with “local hapu and iwi, Maori staff and students” by tertiary institutions in the preparation of proposed plans; the other to insert the phrase “acknowledge the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi” into section 159G of the Education Act which determines the principles guiding how the Tertiary Education Commission operates.

“These were hardly revolutionary, earth-shattering changes” said Mr Flavell. “They are just two ideas, about how to make progress in achieving a constructive and mutually respectual relationship between Maori and the Crown. What the vast number of submissions to the select committee told us was that for a Treaty relationship to be meaningful, it needs to be at all levels of the tertiary education system. Our two amendments, were ways of making the Treaty visible”.

“What we know from experience” shared Mr Flavell, “is that if you don’t spell it out in black and white, despite the best intentions in the world, consultation becomes a hit and miss affair”.

“What we also know from experience, is that those who take the time to consult, come to value it a great deal, and as a result, productive decisions can emerge”.

“But no, Labour – along with National, NZ First, United Future and the independents - chose to act in ways which clearly reflect the lack of value they place in Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the foundation document for Aotearoa”.

“We commend the Greens for their commitment to Treaty justice, and we remind all other parties that New Zealanders are counting up the number of times political parties vote down the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi”.

Background

Under the Bill’s current provisions, an organisation can choose not to consult with Maori in the preparation of a proposed plan. The Maori Party proposed an amendment to specify that, in the preparation of a proposed plan, tertiary education organisations would be required to consult with Maori.

The Education Act 1989 requires that a council of a tertiary education institution is to acknowledge the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in the performance of its function and the exercise of its powers (section 181(b)). However, there is no corresponding requirement on the Tertiary Education Commission to also acknowledge the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in the performance of its functions. The amendment proposed by the Maori Party required the Commission to do so.

ENDS

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