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Refitting the Colonial Cap and Gown

Refitting the Colonial Cap and Gown

Dr Pita Sharples and Te Ururoa Flavell

Friday 24 November 2006

Dr Pita Sharples today raised concerns about recent statements from the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee which would appear to carve out an exclusive status for universities at the top of the hierarchy of learning in tertiary education.

In the last month the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee has released two separate statements, one encouraging Government to increase funding to universities at the expense of other institutions such as polytechnics and wananga, and another claiming that only universities should be funded to run post-graduate courses as they alone hold the expertise to do so.

“Their argument has been that this would bring the greatest returns to all New Zealanders” said Dr Sharples. “What is clear to us is that such a funding model would bring the greatest returns to universities. End of story”.

“The privileging of universities as at the upper echelons of higher learning has been a prevailing concern for all players in tertiary education” stated Dr Pita Sharples, tertiary education spokesperson for the Maori Party.

Prior to his election as a Member of Parliament, Dr Sharples was Professor of Education at Auckland University. He has also been intimately involved in developments to create tertiary education institutions which encapsulate the philosophies and pedagogy of kaupapa Maori education.

“Over the years at every Maori education hui I have attended, the discussions have been about how we can work together across the sector” said Dr Sharples. “Our focus has been on increasing collaboration so that as a whole, the sector can better deliver in all locations and to all people”.

Education spokesperson, Te Ururoa Flavell, has also been involved in a wide range of tertiary education institutions, including as CEO of Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi; Dean of Faculty at Te Pakaro a Ihenga (Waiariki Institute of Technology) and Head of Maori Studies, Tumu Paetaki, at Taranaki Polytechnic.

“All our experience tells us if we continue to shove polytechnics and wananga to the bottom of the pile of priorities; casting them as intellectually and academically inferior, then the quality of and access to tertiary education will be compromised” said Mr Flavell.

“The Maori Party celebrates the fact that tangata whenua have taken up every opportunity to become involved in strategies and studies which will advance Matauranga Maori” said Mr Flavell.

“The key issue for us, is in ensuring there are real choices available, so that our whanau, hapu and iwi can find the right institutions to support their aspirations to advance”.

“Having plenty of choice is also important for lecturers, tutors, and other academic staff” said Dr Sharples. “The flow of Maori staff from universities to wananga over the years demonstrates the opportunities our academics see opening up to them in whare wananga”.

“It is a misnomer to believe that universities have the monopoly on Matauranga Maori” said Dr Sharples.

“Matauranga Maori is located with our whanau, hapu and iwi – and as we know, wananga locate their academic and philosophical approach within the institutions of the whanau, hapu and iwi. They are not apart from the whanau, hapu and iwi”.

“Rather than fighting over the last crumbs at the table, we should be encouraging greater co-operation and effective relationships between all the key players” said Dr Sharples.

“It would be fantastic if all the movers and shakers in tertiary education could be working together at challenges which confront all institutions” ended Mr Flavell.

“For a start, investment into preparing a greater number of Maori school students for tertiary education, would be great for Maori; and great for the nation. The Maori Party would welcome the opportunity to be involved in such discussions”.

ENDS

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