Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Sharples: Te Wananga o Aotearoa

Te Wananga o Aotearoa

Dr Pita sharples

6 dECEMBER 2005

Shortly as we came into the House, Dr Cullen issued a release, stating that:

"I believe it would be in the best interests of the wânanga if Rongo Wetere listened to some of those closest to him and stood aside as chief executive”.

Such a statement is hardly surprising when we turn to the Controller and Auditor-General report which “ focuses heavily on Rongo Wetere and members of his whanau” while acknowledging that they were not solely responsible for governing and managing Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

We are not here to make judgements on either Mr Wetere or his whanau - our role is not to usurp the role of the judiciary, the police, the Auditor-General or any other statutory body that takes on this role.

But we are here, on behalf of our constituency, to ask questions about the basic standards of justice and fair treatment before the law.

Despite the reservation that governance and management didn’t reside solely with Mr Wetere, the report suggests that it was not necessary to name the other individuals whom they state “play important roles in its governance and management”.

The report then stated further that although TWOA’s Council and Senior Management have been so heavily involved,

“Rongo Wetere has not had adequate help and advice from those around them”.

On 9 May this year, the Education Minister described Te Wananga o Aotearoa as being in ‘very very serious financial and governance and managerial situation”. So began, the unprecedented pursuit of one man and his family. The question we have always asked, is why was the focus not put on those for whom oversight of these activities was their responsibility?

A “serious financial and governance and managerial situation” is surely something that needs a comprehensive analysis of all factors - including the Crown watchdogs, the nature of the support made available by Crown resources, and its early warning systems.

Can anyone in this House recollect a situation when an organisation, a flagship of Aotearoa, was losing over $1m a day, as a result of poor decision-making practices for significant expenditure?

Indeed, this organisation has experienced the biggest financial loss in New Zealand's corporate history.

So severe was the loss that Finance Minister Michael Cullen handed over a taxpayer "loan" of $550 million at "commercial rates," conditional upon a satisfactory outcome of "due diligence."

That $550 million was not enough….another $300 million was required from Brierleys and Singapore Airlines to get this flagship into a situation of profit again.

Madam Speaker, we are not talking about Te Wananga o Aotearoa here - this is Air New Zealand -the so-called national symbol of the Country’s airlines - with many of the top commercial brains in the country.

Four years ago, Dr Cullen was happy to bail out this flagship with tax payer money, without an inquiry such as that which Te Wananga o Aotearoa has to endure.

If further action needs to be taken now, then we would encourage the Government to do so. If crimes have been committed, then we would support natural justice following its course.

The $20 million suspensory loan that is being represented as a generous offering by the government should have been made available last year; moreover, it should be a capital grant and not a loan.

If this were done, the shortfall between Aotearoa's capital funding and that of the other tertiary institutions would still be substantial.

Madam Speaker, there is one further issue I want to raise at this point of inquiry.

The settlement agreement was made not to exclude students but to allow for the growth of Maori numbers in tertiary education.

This growth has exceeded all expectations - Ministry of Education statistics reveal Maori participation in tertiary education almost doubled from 1999 to 2003 (from 32,825 to 62,574 students).

But so too, has the growth of non-Maori.

Why then, would any thinking Minister want to inhibit such healthy racial interactions provided at the wananga.

This country's largest tertiary education institution, Te Wananga o Aotearoa, has single handedly created a Mäori tertiary education market. In three or four years it has achieved what successive governments have promised decade after decade but have failed to deliver.

The Maori Party wonders whether the real agenda by exposing Te Wananga o Aotearoa to successive inquiry upon inquiry, is because of its own inability to adequately monitor and give advice to all tertiary institutions, including the Polytechnics and Universities?

All these organisations have difficulty with managing budgets which is why they regularly increase fees to their students.

Indeed the government has had to bail out some of these organisations, as indeed they should.

Tertiary education is after all, very important for this country going forward.

What Te Wananga o Aotearoa has to offer students, many of whom are experiencing tertiary education for the first time, is also important for this country going forward.

To undermine its existence would be a blight on our society.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Mayor of Auckland: Alert Level Change Welcome News

Mayor Phil Goff says the government’s decision to move Auckland to Level 2 from 6am on Sunday will be welcome news for all Aucklanders.
“Moving strongly and quickly to contain this outbreak has once again proved effective in stopping the spread of community transmission and I thank all the Aucklanders who have followed the rules of Level 3 over the past week,” he says... More>>


Earthquakes: Tsunami Activity – Cancelled

The National Advisory issued at 2:48pm following this morning's earthquakes near the KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION is cancelled.
The advice from GNS Science, based on ocean observations, is that the Beach and Marine threat has now passed for all areas... More>>

Joint Press Release: Dirty PR Exposed In Whale Oil Defamation Trial

Three public health advocates are relieved that their long-standing Whale Oil defamation trial against Cameron Slater, Carrick Graham, Katherine Rich and the Food and Grocery Council has finally concluded and they are pleased that the truth has come out... More>>


Government: Next Stage Of COVID-19 Support For Business And Workers

The Government has confirmed details of COVID-19 support for business and workers following the increased alert levels due to a resurgence of the virus over the weekend... More>>


Government: Balanced Economic Approach Reflected In Crown Accounts

New Zealand’s economic recovery has again been reflected in the Government’s books, which are in better shape than expected.
The Crown accounts for the seven months to the end of January 2021 were better than forecast in the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update (HYEFU)... More>>

Covid-19: Auckland Back To Alert Level Three After One New Community Case Revealed

Auckland will move to alert level three for a week at 6am tomorrow morning after two new Covid-19 community cases announced this evening could not be directly linked to earlier cases, the Prime Minister has confirmed.
The rest of the country will move to level two.... More>>

NZ Initiative: New Report Highlights How Our Housing Crisis Could Worsen If We Don’t Act Now

If New Zealand politicians thought the housing crisis in 2020 was bad, the worst is yet to come, warns a new report by The New Zealand Initiative. In The Need to Build: The demographic drivers of housing demand , Research Assistant Leonard Hong ... More>>

Parliament: Kiwi MPs Among The “Most Educated In The World”

New analysis of MP qualifications reveals New Zealand’s Parliament is one of the most educated and highest qualified in the world, and significantly more educated than Australia’s. The research, by Mark Blackham of BlacklandPR and Geoffrey Miller ... More>>




InfoPages News Channels