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Maori students lodge Treaty of Waitangi claim against VSM

Maori students lodge Treaty of Waitangi claim against VSM Bill

Joint NZUSA-TMA press release

Maori student representatives have formally lodged a claim into the Waitangi Tribunal seeking an urgent Tribunal hearing into the impacts of ACT’s bill to end universal membership of students’ associations. The Tribunal has acknowledged receipt of the claim and is currently being considered as a single new claim.

“We have submitted this claim due to the negative impacts this Bill will have on Māori development and advancement. It highlights the prejudicial effects of this Bill against tauira(students) Māori in the tertiary sector and the impacts it has on the overall framework provided by students’ associations which assist in strengthening the support of tauira”, says Te Mana Akonga(national Maori students’ association) Tumuaki Jacqualene Poutu.

Te Mana Akonga asserts that Maori students will be affected because the Bill:

1. diminishes the right of tauira Māori to form roopū;
2. diminishes the right of those roopū to exercise tino rangatiratanga over Māori student issues, including representation, whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, tuākana/teina, kotahitanga, me ōna tikanga;
3. diminishes the right of tauira and roopū to form a national representative entity to ensure fair and just tertiary education policies in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The claim seeks the Tribunal’s recommendation that the Bill is:
(a) abolished and
(b) that provision be made to protect tauira Māori, their local roopu, and their national representation.

“NZUSA supports this claim. The government does not seem to care about the real impacts this will have on the ground. The disgraceful fact remains that the government has done no analysis or real consideration of what impact this Bill will have on student services, student representation, and the quality of education for students as a whole,” says NZUSA co-President David Do.

“For Maori students this is particularly urgent giving continued gaps in retention and completion rates. For example, the Bill’s Regulatory Impact Statement Bill 2009, and in the Education, Science and Select Committee Report in 2010 contained no reference of the impacts of the Bill on tauira Māori,” says Do.

“The Government still has an opportunity today in the Committee stage debate of the Bill to act reasonably and in good faith to ensure the active protection of tauira Māori in the tertiary sector. All Government parties (including National and the Maori Party) should refer this destructive Bill in its entirety to the Waitangi Tribunal under section 8 of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975”, concludes Poutu.

The full claim is available here.

NZUSA is the national representative body for tertiary students and has been advocating on student issues since 1929.


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