Media Statement from Catherine Isaac
Former Chair of the Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua Authorisation Board
I welcome today’s announcement by Sir Toby Curtis and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi that Māori have lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal over the failure of the Crown to consult them on the imminent closure of Partnership Schools Kura Hourua (PSKH) nationwide.
Māori are doing a great service here for all New Zealanders by pursuing a Treaty Claim.
While Māori children will likely be the most affected by the closures, the removal of the partnership schools model in fact strips away the right of all young people and their parents, irrespective of ethnicity, to choose a school now, or in the future, that meets their particular learning needs.
These are sometimes children in low learning deciles, kids with special needs, Pasifika youth, those with specific vocational requirements, or often simply young people for whom the typical state school system is just not working and so they don’t bother turning up to class.
Partnerships schools have been a circuit breaker for these children.
I encourage members of the media and the public to visit these schools and engage directly with the students and their parents – something that the Minister of Education has failed to do. There you will see just how effective partnership schools have been in turning young lives around.
In February, I resigned as chair along with the rest of the PSKH Authorisation Board due in large part to the lack of consultation occurring under this Minister’s watch, and the fact that we just couldn’t support the closure of schools that were delivering great results.
The coalition Government is rushing ahead with cancelling Crown contracts and pushing legislation through the House right now to scrap the kura hourua model, despite admitting the only parties they’ve consulted are the state sector teacher unions.
Māori have a special mechanism uniquely available to them via the Treaty Claims process to have inequities and unfairness affecting their people reviewed by the Waitangi Tribunal commission of inquiry.
If Sir Toby and Dame Iritana are successful with their application and the resulting claim, it will be a victory for New Zealand kids of all backgrounds, not just those with Māori whakapapa.
The two claimants are wonderful, lifelong advocates for education. They must be commended for the steps they are taking in pursuing this Treaty Claim against the Crown, and for the positive flow-on effects it will have for everyone if the partnership school model is saved for current – and future – generations of young New Zealanders.
I hope that the Tribunal accepts their application and moves quickly to investigate the claims.
For further information about the Claim visit: http://etipuerea.org/the-treaty-claim-explained/