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Waitangi Tribunal Condemns Government Over Wânanga

Friday 23 December 2005
Aotearoa Institute

23 December 2005

Waitangi Tribunal Condemns Government Over Wânanga

The Aotearoa Institute welcomed the release today of the Waitangi Tribunal's report on the Institute's urgent claim regarding the actions of the Government against Te Wânanga o Aotearoa.

Harold Maniapoto and Dr Tui Adams, speaking on behalf of Aotearoa Institute, said they are not surprised the Tribunal has found that their claim was well-founded and the Government has breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in numerous and grave respects.

"We welcome the findings more with sorrow than with anger. For too long we have suffered sustained attempts by the Government to control, undermine, downsize and make the Wânanga for Maori only despite its indisputable achievements for all New Zealanders," said Mr Maniapoto.

"What is critical now is that the Government acknowledge the breaches and act on the recommendations of the Tribunal. Given that this was an urgent claim and the Treaty breaches are ongoing it is crucial that the Government implement the Tribunal's recommendations immediately.

"The Tribunal rightly found that the Government ‘has sought to impose a unilateral, poorly co-ordinated and from the claimants' perspective, apparently destructive response' on the Wânanga. The Government's pressure on the council to reduce itself to an inappropriate size that no longer represented the Wânanga's founding iwi was part of this destructive response.

"During the process of implementation of the Tribunal's recommendation that the council be brought up to its statutory requirements, it must be remembered that the interests of Ngati Maniapoto and of the Aotearoa Institute are a constitutional part of any Wânanga o Aotearoa council.

"The Tribunal also found that the Government's attempts to force the Wânanga to accept a charter that represents the Government's erroneous views of what a Wânanga is must be stopped.

"We are pleased that the Tribunal has seen through the negative public perceptions of the Wânanga and has now found that the Government must start acting as a good faith Treaty partner.

"The Tribunal has spoken and its mana must be respected by the Government. The Tribunal has made it clear that in the spirit of partnership there is an obligation to actively support and protect the Wânanga. Remember, this is not about actions in the past, but is about the Government ignoring Treaty principles today," he concluded.

The recommendations of the Tribunal for government action are as follows;
(a) To assist the Wânanga to bring the council up to the statutory requirements as soon as possible;
(b) To renegotiate the present version of the proposed charter with a view to making such amendments as may seem appropriate, bearing in mind the findings of the Tribunal;
(c) To assist the Wânanga to consult stakeholders as fully as possible in respect of the revised charter;
(d) To assist the Wânanga financially and administratively in meeting the costs and carrying out tasks involved in dealing with the reviews, audits and inquires undergone by the Wânanga;
(e) To meet the proper costs and disbursements of the claimants incurred in the preparation and presentation of their claim;
(f) To acknowledge formally the invaluable and innovative contribution made by the Aotearoa Institute and the founders of the Wânanga to education in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

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