Two leading Māori educators, Sir Toby Curtis and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, have lodged an application to the Waitangi Tribunal alleging that the Crown’s actions in closing partnership schools will have a disproportionately detrimental effect on Māori and calling for a halt to the closures.
Partnership Schools (or Kura Hourua) are schools that are focused on delivering improved educational outcomes for priority learners and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) students in New Zealand.
Operating alongside other types of schools, they provide an opportunity for private and community education providers, including iwi, to establish schools and contribute directly to the educational success of young New Zealanders, many of whom have not had their needs met by traditional state-run public schools.
Partnership schools currently serve some of the most educationally disadvantaged youth in New Zealand, including Māori, Pasifika, deciles 1-3 and Special Needs students.
No they are not. The funding formula for Charter Schools was designed by the Ministry of Education and they confirm that partnership schools are funded comparably to state schools.
Despite being a young sector, three of the five partnerships schools with published National Standards results in 2017, and greater than 75% of their student roll as priority learners, are achieving results that exceed the national average for all schools.
Te Kapehu Whetu–Terenga Paraoa and Vanguard Military School (two of the three Kura Hourua with published NCEA results), are out-performing comparable state schools. Vanguard UE results are 3rd best in Auckland for Deciles 1-3, and Te Kapehu Whetu–Terenga Paraoa UE results are 2nd best in All Northland for Deciles 1-10.
The Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins on behalf of the Crown and his Labour-Greens-NZ First Government has terminated the contracts of 13 partnership schools and told them they will need to re-establish themselves as regular state schools by December or close their doors for good.
New partnership schools, including those still in the preliminary stages of application, have been blocked from proceeding and the PSKH Authorisation Board has been disestablished.
The early termination of Kura Hourua contracts is unjust, unprincipled and prejudicial to the 1500 students enrolled in these PSKH and their communities, in particular Māori.
The large majority of the students at the schools being shut down are Māori, many of whom enrolled there to get a fresh start in education and to get their lives back on track.
The government by its acts and omissions in failing to consult with Māori prior to issuing notices of termination, and in closing partnership schools more generally, is acting in defiance of its obligations of good faith partnership under the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and to the detriment of Māori.
The key principles breached are:
Firstly, the Crown’s actions will have a disproportionate affect on Māori.
Secondly, eroding Māori rangatiratanga by exercising kāwanatanga (the authority of Government):
dislocating Māori students currently enrolled at Kura Hourua.
The right of Māori to improved educational outcomes and the ability of Māori to provide education solutions for themselves. This has all been stripped away by the Minister and the Crown without any prior consultation.
The decision to close Partnership Schools is irrational (takes no account of Partnership School success) and prejudices all students, Māori in particular.
6 of 11 schools are owned by Māori entities and have predominantly Māori students:
The Cabinet Paper and the Ministry of Education Regulatory Impact Statement regarding the closures noted:
Sir Toby Curtis and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, on behalf of Māori.
Students, their parents and whānau, are distressed at the Crown’s failure to meet and consult with them prior to announcing the closure of their schools. Along with a wide array of business, education and community leaders, they are aghast at the Governments single-minded and arbitrary decision to close their schools or force existing Kura Hourua to convert to a state-model.
Read our media release here.
There have been mixed and misleading messages from MPs and Senior Government Minsters including Kelvin Davis (Labour Deputy Leader & Māori Electorate MP), who before the last Election committed to resigning if partnership schools were closed by his Government. Labour MPs like Willie Jackson also said they were committed to partnerships schools and believed in the model.
On the one hand, Prime Minister Ardern and Minister Hipkins have stated publicly in a number of forums that no Partnership School that is comparably funded (to state schools), that is teaching the NZ Curriculum and that uses registered teachers, will be closed.
Yet they are closing all of them.
Yes. Furthermore, the Government has proclaimed that addressing child deprivation is a key focus for them, yet here they are closing schools that are succeeding with their 75% plus priority learners (Māori, Pasifika, deciles 1-3, special needs).
The decision to close Partnership Schools has been made in the total absence of consultation with students, parents, school communities.
Following the application to the Waitangi Tribunal on 3 July 2018, the tribunal will consider the matter and either agree or decline to hear the Claim.
Keep visiting our website for regular updates and information on the Claim and follow/share on social media.
In the meantime, Sir Toby and Dame Iritana encourage New Zealanders from all walks of life and all ethnicities to discuss the issue of partnership school closures, to contact their local media outlets and Members of Parliament to raise their concerns, and to share information & updates with friends and whānau on social media in support of the Treaty Claim.