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Flavell: Education (Freedom of Associations) Amendment Bill

Flavell: Education (Freedom of Associations) Amendment Bill

Te Ururoa Flavell, Education Spokesperson for the Maori Party; Wednesday 7 September 2011; 5.00pm

Mr Chair; I want to take a call on clause nine – the transitional provisions, and in particular the direction that this section applies to any student with an establishment date of 1 January 2012.

I think it’s very important that while we are debating this provision in the Bill tonight, there is a critical action taking place in front of the Waitangi Tribunal at the instigation of Te Mana Akonga – that is the national Maori Tertiary Students Association.

This is an urgent action which has only come to bear because of the significance given at Te Huinga Tauira 2011. For many years now Maori students get together to debate issues which are current – and this is done at an annual hui a tau.

Last week over 250 Māori students attended Huinga at Ngā Whare Waatea Marae in Mangere.

Part of the discussions at the hui included the breaking news at the time that Te Mana Akonga has lodged a Claim with the Waitangi Tribunal against this Bill, and the Māori students have asked that this House do, tonight, what is necessary to ensure they are heard at the Tribunal before the bill is an Act.

That is a tight timeframe and I understand that but things can happen if we really want them to happen.

At this point then, I guess I am calling on the compassion and the understanding of all parties in this House – to listen to the views of all of the different parties that have been in contact with the Maori Party over this issue. I am talking about:

• Te Mana Akonga, the national association;
• Ngai Tauira from Wellington;
• the Weltec Students Association,
• Manawatahi, Massey University,
• Nga Tauira Maori from Auckland,
• Te Akatoki from Christchurch;
• Te Roopu Maori from Dunedin
• Te Awhioraki from Christchurch
• Te Waka o nga Akonga Maori
• And all the alumni of the Maori Students Association that have come from throughout the country.

The claim has come from all tauira Maori, it has come from whanau, hapu and iwi – and importantly it comes from the perspective of being stakeholders and beneficiaries in the New Zealand tertiary education system.

It is their claim that Te Mana Akonga, and all Maori, tertiary students have been and continue to be prejudicially affected by policy and practices adopted by the Crown and exercised on its behalf, by successive agencies, and now by this bill in particular.

Mr Speaker, fast-tracking this legislation to take effect on 1 January 2012, as in this transitional provision, in effect is a massive slap in the face for tauira Maori.

I know that Mr Henare attended the hui but I want to put the case to ensure we all give it due thought.

And I want to simply lay out the case that has now proceeded through to the Waitangi Tribunal so that every member in this House can go on record and vote, knowing full well that they are voting against the claims put to Parliament by tauira Maori.

It is their contention that this Bill :

• will diminish the right of tauira Maori to form ropu;
• will diminish the right of those ropu to exercise Tino rangatiratanga over Maori student issues, including representation, whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, tuakana / teina, kotahitanga, me ona tikanga;
• will diminish the right of tauira and ropu to form a national representative entity to ensure fair and just tertiary education policies in Aotearoa New Zealand.

These are all very important points that I hope this Parliament will give sufficient time to address.

Te Mana Akonga conclude that the policy and practice of the Crown stemming from this Bill fails to protect Maori students' rights as stated above, and that this is contrary to Te Tiriti o Waitangi 1840 and Te Wakaputanga o Nga Rangatira o Niu Tireni 1835.

Mr Chair, they have therefore sought two very clear requests that the Bill is abolished, and that provisions be made to protect tauira Maori, their local roopu, and their national representation, Te Mana Akonga.

Mr Speaker, I think their case is clear.

The Crown’s failure to consult with tauira Maori is a breach of the Crown’s duty to act reasonably and in good faith as directed under te Tiriti o Waitangi.

It is the very strong view of the students that this Bill will result in prejudicial effects against tauira Maori in the tertiary sector and the impact on the overall framework provided by students’ associations which assist in strengthening the support of tauira Maori.

They contend also that the Crown’s inaction to include and or provide research and analysis into the impact of the Bill on tauira Maori, their whanau, hapu, and iwi development and advancement is sufficiently dire to warrant this that Bill be thrown out from the Order of the Day.

This Bill will stop the much needed national Maori student representation that will assist in helping to contribute to, inform, and change Government policy into the future and legislation.

It should be pretty clear the Maori Party opposes it in the strongest possible way.

Point of order, Mr Chair

I seek the leave of the House that this bill be deferred forthwith.

[opposed]

I seek the leave of the House that this bill be referred in its entirety to the Waitangi Tribunal under section 8 of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975.

[opposed]

ENDS

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