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Te Kōhanga Reo to file urgent claim with Waitangi Tribunal

Te Kōhanga Reo to file urgent claim with Waitangi Tribunal

Te Kōhanga Reo met today at Waiwhetu Marae, Lower Hutt in preparation for filing an urgent claim with the Waitangi Tribunal.

"The Trust Board, with the support of 471 Kōhanga Reo, has agreed to file an urgent claim with the Waitangi Tribunal as the Crown has failed to meet its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi", said Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi Trustee and spokesperson for the Trust Board.

The Trust Board's claim sets out breaches by the Crown including discriminating against Kōhanga reo if they did not operate the same as early childhood education centres. This discriminates against Kaumatua, Kuia, whānau, extended whānau and the kaupapa and essence of the different Māori approach to whānau-based development.

Dame Iritana said, "Kōhanga reo has our own kaupapa; we are more than a centre where parents drop their children off and the kids do some finger painting. We involve the whole whānau, we have a total immersion environment, we pass on our culture and language to our mokopuna in order for our Māoritanga to be revitalized".

The Trust Board is seeking an urgent claim as it argues that if the Crown continues to not recognize Kōhanga reo then there is a serious threat to the sustainability of the kohanga reo kaupapa as was envisaged by kaumatua in 1982.

The lawyer for the Trust Board, Constitutional law expert Mai Chen of Law firm Chen Palmer, said "This is a significant claim and the request for the Tribunal to hear the claim urgently is real. The Government is due to take significant policy decisions that could irreversibly prejudice Kōhanga in early August."

Whānau and supporters of Kōhanga reo met today at Waiwhetu Marae where in 1982 Kaumatua gathered from all over the country to discuss the threat to te reo Māori.

"Come rain, hail or snow, we have whānau and supporters from all over the country who will Hikoi from Parliament buildings to the Waitangi Tribunal to deliver our claim. Kaumatua, Kuia, Tamariki, Mokopuna and prominent will walk with us because they believe in the value of Kōhanga reo, said Dame Iritana "Thousands of mokopuna and whānau have benefitted from Kōhanga reo. Kōhanga is about the right of Māori to be Māori."

The Hikoi departs from the cenotaph at the entrance of Parliament buildings at 11am Monday 25th July 2011.

Te Kōhanga Reo welcomes all those who support our kaupapa to join them. Nau mai, haere mai.

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