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Kohanga Reo Take the Next Step in Their Hikoi

MEDIA STATEMENT

Kohanga Reo Take the Next Step in Their Hikoi

Te Kohanga Reo Trust Board has welcomed the Waitangi Tribunal’s decision to hear the Trust Board’s application for urgency on Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 August 2011 at the Waitangi Tribunal in Wellington.

“This hearing is an opportunity for the Waitangi Tribunal to decide to hear our claim”, said Dame Iritana Te Rangi Tawhiwhirangi.

On 25 July 2011, 1,200 kohanga reo whanau participated in the hikoi to deliver the urgent claim to the Waitangi Tribunal regarding the Crown’s failure to protect kohanga reo. Alongside the mokopuna, kaiako and Kaumatua were the Maori King, iwi leaders and Members of Parliament from almost all of the political parties.

Dame Iritana said, “the claim is very important to the future of te reo Maori and the kōhanga whanau and it has to be heard urgently. "

Members of the Trust Board such as Dame Iritana and Co-Chair, Tina Ratana, may be cross-examined on the evidence filed to support the urgency memorandum.

Dame Iritana said, " It is critically important that the kōhanga voice that we represent is heard by the Waitangi Tribunal and the Crown on why this claim needs to be heard urgently. I have seen the impact of prejudicial policies and regulations that are threatening the future of kohanga, including the ECE Taskforce Report”.

This week, the government consultation for the ECE Taskforce Report was concluded. The Report includes numerous factual inaccuracies about kohanga reo and there is a real and imminent threat that the government will take substantive policy decisions that will have a dire impact on the future of kohanga reo.

“Minister Anne Tolley has characterised our urgent Waitangi Claim as scaremongering over the future of kohanga reo but she has given no guarantee to kohanga reo that they will not be affected by the ECE Taskforce report. However, she has made assurances to Playcentres but not to us”, said Tina Olsen-Ratana.

The Trust Board has also welcomed the Waitangi Tribunal’s direction that the Crown, including Ministry of Education officials, are required to provide the Trust Board with documents that they had previously requested under the OIA to support their claim, but had been refused by the Ministry unless approximately $10,000 was paid.

Tina Olsen-Ratana said, “An Official Information Act 1982 request was sent to the Ministry of Education on information relating to kohanga reo. They had the cheek to say that they would charge us $9,500 to provide us with that information. We are pleased the Tribunal has decided that the Crown should release that information at no cost by 2pm this Friday so we can use it when we appear before the tribunal next Wednesday”.

ENDS

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