Minister Hipkins in denial over Treaty claim – Curtis
10:01AM, 23 August 2018
Māori educator and iwi leader Sir Toby Curtis says he is astounded that the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, has denied receiving a claim that is before the Waitangi Tribunal regarding the closure of eleven partnership schools/kura hourua.
In written responses to the National Party education spokesperson Nikki Kaye, released this week, the Minister says that “the Crown has not yet been formally served with the claim”.
Sir Toby says that the Minister is not being truthful. “He shows a flagrant lack of regard and respect for the process and the claimants, and complete disinterest in the legitimate concerns raised by a wide range of New Zealanders over the Crown’s failure to consult on charter school closures.”
Sir Toby Curtis is the spokesperson for the claimant group that includes Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Dame Tariana Turia and Pem Bird MNZM. The Claim, lodged on 3 July, has been widely endorsed by kaumatua and community leaders.
“Our Claim was served on the Crown via Crown Law at the same time it was filed with the Waitangi Tribunal, as is the usual practice. Crown Law has confirmed to our legal advisers that they are in receipt of the Claim. Why is the Minister denying this to Parliament?” asks Sir Toby.
“This has become a pattern. The Minister issued termination notices to kura hourua before the Select Committee has even completed its public hearings on proposed Education Act amendments, putting enormous stress on school communities. He sat on a Supplementary Order Paper for nearly a month before slipping it out to schools with a three working day deadline to respond (and with no notice at all to other submitters). And now, he denies the Crown has been served a well-publicised Treaty Claim.”
“Denying Māori the opportunity to be consulted on major decisions affecting us for generations to come goes against everything that the Treaty of Waitangi stands for. Minister Hipkins thinks he can eliminate partnership schools with the stroke of his pen, but he can’t wipe away his obligations to consult with Māori under the Treaty, and he cannot pretend our Claim doesn’t exist,” Sir Toby says.
“Māori have been key partners in kura hourua that are making significant inroads to addressing generational educational under-achievement by our young people. It is a model that works. I’ve had a lifelong involvement with Māori education – longer than any of these politicians – and I’m seeing our kids off the streets, off benefits, and back into classrooms with a renewed sense of purpose and direction.”
“Jacinda Ardern’s Government has put political ideology, formed in the absence of evidence, ahead of the best interests of young Māori, and they refuse to talk about it. So we made a formal Claim and now her Minister is denying the very existence of our upset.”