Crown accused of education racism
By Grant Johnston
The Crown has made a mockery of the Treaty and the principle of partnership, say the two men who filed a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal this week against the Crown on behalf of Aotearoa Institute.
Harold Maniapoto and Dr Tui Adams say the Crown has breached the Treaty in its recent dealings with Te Wananga o Aotearoa, through the pursuit of racially divisive policies.
“The Crown is squarely to blame for the financial predicament and negative publicity that has hounded the Wananga this year. It should have paid most of the suspensory loan by now as required by the Deed of Settlement. Instead, the Crown has reneged on its promise to provide adequate capital funding to the Wananga, appointed a Crown manager and tried to sack the council. It has pursued a relentless and ruthless campaign to downsize the Wananga in election year. Those are not the actions of a Treaty partner acting in good faith.”
The pair say they are seeking an urgent hearing because the appointment of a Crown manager is resulting in costs of around $90,000 a month to the Wananga. They say making matters worse is the fact that the Crown has tried to impose a quota of 80% Maori on the Wananga, which has always been a racially inclusive institution as required by the law.
“This was the real reason the suspensory loan was not paid. There is absolutely no place for racially divisive politics in New Zealand education, and there is no way we could stand by and allow that to continue.”
Mr Maniapoto and Dr Adams say they have brought the claim in the interests of all New Zealanders and that the Aotearoa Institute is not seeking any relief for itself.
“If we are successful in our claim then the Wananga, its students and the communities it serves will benefit, not the Aotearoa Institute.”
Briefs of evidence in support of the claim have been filed by the Mayors of Gisborne and Waipa, New Zealand Maori Council, Te Kohanga Reo National Trust and Maori Women’s Welfare League.
“Aotearoa Institute has been forced to bring the claim because the Wananga has been the victim of a calculated plan of action by the Crown to gain control over the Wananga and turn it into a significantly smaller institution for Maori only. It is bad enough that the Crown has blatantly tried to impose ‘by Maori for Maori’ on the Wananga when it knows it is illegal, but its aggressive actions have been so successful that the Council of the Wananga cannot bring a claim itself, because it is now controlled by the Minister of Education.”
The reduced Wananga Council now has five members, three of which were appointed by the Minister.
“The Minister of Education has been very conspicuous in a public campaign of allegation and speculation against the Wananga, so now it is time for the truth about the Crown’s conduct to be told in a fair and independent forum, where the Wananga won’t be treated as a political football like it has all year.”