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Racism Forces Unitec Rūnanga Resignations

Further resignations have been tendered from the Rūnanga, in the wake of what has been described as “institutional racism” at Unitec. Following the departure of Chairperson Tui Ah Loo on Friday, also resigning is the Deputy Chair, Megan Tunks, and Rūnanga member and Principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi, Hare Rua.

In her resignation letter Megan Tunks says, “I cannot be part of an institution that perpetuates structural inequities and racism”.

These three Rūnanga members have deep connections to Māori education communities in West Auckland, and are appalled at the blatant disrespect and disregard for Māori in recent months. On Friday, the ceremonial removal of a photo of Sir John Te Ahikaiata Turei from the Unitec Boardroom by the Turei whānau, was one of the most serious and significant things Māori can do to show a breach of trust and confidence. Over 300 people gathered in support and solidarity of the Turei whānau.

As a result of the inability of the Unitec/MIT Board Chair, Peter Winder, to engage honourably with the Rūnanga and Te Roopu Mataara (Unitec Māori staff collective), a vote of no confidence in the Chair and the CEO has been issued. Māori at Unitec assert that Treaty-based relationships require open and transparent dialogue, based on an authentic and respectful relationship.

The processes undertaken to appoint the new CEO, Gus Gilmore, and his restructure of the integrated Executive Leadership Team, have ignored the voice and mana of Māori. As a result, the Māori Executive Director also departed on Friday, leaving Māori staff without any senior Māori leadership and feeling vulnerable and unsafe.

Māori at Unitec and supporters begin their hīkoi to uplift the photograph of Sir John Te Ahikaiata Turei, Friday 29th January 2021.

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