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Respected Kaumātua Demand Resignation Of Unitec/MITBoard Chair

Respected kaumātua have supported a call from Māori staff at Unitec to remove the Chair of the joint Unitec/MIT Board and one remaining member of its Rūnanga.

Māori staff collective Te Rōpū Mataara are calling for the resignation of the Unitec/MIT Board Chair and the one remaining Unitec Rūnanga member, amid claims of structural racism and conflicting interests.

Te Tira Kāpuia a group of prominent Māori kaumātua who’ve influenced major advancements in education and community development are reinforcing this call and stepped in to provide support and advocacy for Māori staff.

Te Tira Kāpuia Chair, Rangi McLean says “This is a major issue for Māori in tertiary education. The voices and concerns of Māori have been stifled at governance and management levels. Now, five of the six of Rūnanga representatives have resigned as a result of the disrespect shown towards mana Māori.”

Conflict of interest concerns were raised in an open letter to the Minister of Education Chris Hipkins and Te Pūkenga Board Chair Murray Strong last month, despite this, no sufficient resolution has been implemented to secure the safety of staff who spoke out.

Te Rōpū Mataara spokesperson Rihi Te Nana says “The situation at Unitec has been exacerbated by the fact that Māori staff have clearly stated that they have no confidence in the Unitec/MIT Board Chair, as well as the last standing member of the Unitec Rūnanga”.

To protect and support staff, Rangi McLean, Dr Haare Williams, Mere Tunks, Awi Riddell and Awa Hudson have agreed to support Te Rōpū Mataara under the banner of Te Tira Kāpuia.

McLean says, “Despite the Minister of Education being notified last month of the grave concerns for the wellbeing of Māori at Unitec, no sufficient action has been taken to keep staff safe”.

Te Tira Kāpuia have called on the Minister again and Te Pūkenga to enact six resolutions passed by Te Rōpū Mataara, which includes a vote of no confidence in a senior Board member and one other governance member; the establishment of mana ōrite at governance and management level; and the immediate halt of the appointment of a Tumu and establishment of a new Rūnanga until this is done.

While a response letter has been sent to Te Tira Kāpuia and Te Rōpū Mataara, it is not satisfactory and the inaction of those with the mana to support Māori staff in crisis is condoning their continued mistreatment. However, Te Rōpū Mataara say they will continue to fight for mana ōrite and uphold the mana of Te Noho Kotahitanga and the legacy of Tā John Te Ahikaiata Turei.

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