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Cullen on Waitangi Tribunal report on wananga

23 December 2005
Media Statement

Cullen on Waitangi Tribunal finding on wananga

Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen said today that Te Wananga o Aotearoa's status under the Treaty of Waitangi had to be balanced against its obligations as an organisation in receipt of public funding.

Dr Cullen was commenting on the release this evening of the Waitangi Tribunal report on the claim brought by the wananga's parent body, the Aotearoa Institute, that the Crown had been in breach of Treaty principles in its treatment of the wananga.

"Clearly it is too early to give a full response as the Tribunal's findings will need careful analysis by officials and this will not be available until next year," Dr Cullen said.

"I think, however, that the Tribunal has underestimated two things: the systemic governance and management failures identified in the Auditor-General's inquiry released earlier this month and the government's responsibility to ensure that the hundreds and millions of dollars disbursed through the wananga are correctly spent.

"This is not a small social service provider where some lenience may be appropriate. It is a large, publicly funded tertiary education provider with responsibilities to both the taxpayer and to its students.

"The problems raised by the Auditor-General must be addressed and the wananga must be held accountable for the large sums of money it receives," Dr Cullen said.

"The government will do everything in its power to ensure that both these objectives are achieved.

"The issues around the wananga council's formation and return to full strength are being dealt with. Immediately a full council is in place, we will be wanting to discuss with it the basis for an on-going relationship between the wananga and the government."

ENDS

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