Turia: Health Sciences Academy Launch, Hato Petera College

Speech – New Zealand Government

I want to firstly mihi to Terry Dunleavy, to Hohepa Campbell, to our taiohi and kaumatua.Tariana Turia

9 November, 2011

Launch of Health Sciences Academy, Hato Petera College, Auckland

I want to firstly mihi to Terry Dunleavy, to Hohepa Campbell, to our taiohi and kaumatua.

Six years ago, at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education, Nathan Matthews presented a paper to the hui entitled, He Kura Mäori, he Kura Hähi.

His korero was focused on Maori Boarding Schools and I want to share a statement from that report:

“These schools, since their inception, have contributed significantly to the development of Mäori society, particularly in the production of dynamic Mäori leaders who have had a compelling influence on their Mäori communities and Mäori society and in some instances on the nation state”.

These are grand statements, but if we look through history, we would see ample evidence to demonstrate the veracity of these words.

We recall, for instance, the distinguished members of the Young Maori Party formed in 1909 from the Te Aute Students Association, involving great names such as Sir James Carroll, Paraire Tomoana, Sir Apirana Ngata, Sir Peter Buck and Sir Maui Pomare.

Hato Petera was later to contribute its share of great New Zealanders such as artists Ralph Hotere and Para Matchitt and academic Professor Ranginui Walker.

And if I could give you just three recent examples from this kura alone:

• Peter Douglas, chief executive of Te Ohu Kaimoana,

• Jamie Tuuta, the new Maori Trustee,

• lawyer Pierre Tohe, recently appointed as Head of Maori Business for the Bank of New Zealand – all tauira tawhito of Hato Petera College.

The question is, if everything is so good, why is it then, that we have lost St Stephens College for Boys and Queen Victoria School for Girls, and others of our traditional Maori boarding schools like Te Aute College, have been reported as struggling in today’s settings.

Why is it that successive Governments appear to have abdicated any real responsibility for looking into the status of our Maori boarding schools?

I am reminded of a report produced in 1996 by Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith – at the request of the Ministry of Education. In that report, Professor Smith said:

“If all the ex-Maori Boarding School people downed tools tomorrow, Maoridom would come to a standstill and probably the whole country would come to a standstill; they provide the bulk of the Maori management level in the public service, in schools and education; large numbers are in key professions such as lawyers, accountants, doctors, lecturers.

They are found in key positions within iwi structures – they have leadership roles on the marae and in Runanga structures – in our iwi a lot of key kaumatua went to Maori Boarding schools.”

Such words are in stark contrast to the negativity that so often is attached to any description of Maori education – and particularly the achievement and participation of Maori students.

The Maori Party today is announcing that we will not simply allow institutional inertia to creep in, with the end result of our Maori boarding schools disappearing into the realms of history.

We believe that a good starting point is to go back to the detailed report and recommendations of Professor Graham Smith in his 1996 report, to ask Professor Smith to review the situation of our Maori boarding schools as they are in 2012, and tell us after consultation with the kura and their proprietors and communities, how we can help them to recover and enhance the unique contributions they can make not just to Maoridom but to the whole of New Zealand.

I am aware of course that various bodies have evolved – Paerangi Limited in 2001, a memorandum of understanding between the Minister and the then schools; and more recently the establishment of Tutahi.

Tūtahi attempts to respond, strategically to issues common to all schools while at the same time recognising that individual schools will have issues peculiar to their circumstances, and that it will be more appropriate and relevant to respond at that level.

The Maori Party appreciates the commitment of Tutahi to maximise educational excellence, while also seeking to minimise administrative and financial management burdens – and we would envisage their involvement to be crucial to the review.

Even more so than in 1996, there is today an urgent need for new approaches, and a new vision which could include ideas such as:

• Whether there is potential for mutual agreement by the churches which own the traditional boarding schools to seek strength in numbers and teaching resource by combining their educational activities while preserving separate practices of their faiths;

• The extent to which the schools can widen the reach of their educational activities to co-education and day pupils as you have done here at Hato Petera;

• The part to be played by iwi in partnership arrangements with the traditional Maori schools to ensure that their tamariki receive not only high class academic secondary education but also become well versed in tikanga and te reo;

• The introduction of specialist academies, such as you are proposing here at Hato Petera with the establishment of a health sciences academy to help in overcoming the under-representation by Maori in the provision of health services in our hospitals and clinics.

In this last initiative, the health academy you have named Te Umanga Oranga, I want to assure you of the full support of the Maori Party, because we see it as a practical example of one of the key thrusts of our education policy announced by the wonderful Waihoroi Shortland here today.

And I want to acknowledge Edith McNeill and Waitemata District Health Board for the inspiration you have provided through your mahi in this regard.

We commend you for this vision, along with your partners such as the Health Work Force, Waitemata District Health Board, Auckland University of Technology, and Te Waipareira Trust Board.

I think this academy is a really exciting concept which brings with it many great possibilities for capturing the momentum our future demands.

Te Umanga Oranga provides all of the young leaders here at this kura with a fantastic opportunity to become aware of the vast range of vocations that exist across the total health sector.

It is more than just awareness raising however. It provides a unique platform to identify students with the potential to take up these careers; and the curriculum to match – to support you in preparing for seamless transition to the specialist tertiary education institutions.

In this way, Te Umanga Oranga meets many milestones for Government and of course for tangata whenua.

It will serve to actively increase Maori participation in health sciences.

It will accelerate leadership, achievement and educational participation of all students attracted to the academy.

It will ensure that Hato Petera College is improving and upskilling as an educational provider – tailoring its programmes to fit the market, but also to respond to the ambitions of your student body.

I am delighted to be associated with the establishment of this academy and you can be assured that the Maori Party will be actively watching your progress, during the 2012 school year and beyond.

Finally, once every three years, this nation throws everything up for scrutiny, exposing our progress as a nation in every area imaginable.

And so, night after night, the news trawls over differences in policy issues related to superannuation, unemployment, a widening of the wage gap, the rise in GST, crediting rating downgrades, beneficiary numbers, GDP growth, tax cuts and children living in welfare-dependent households.

Today, Hato Petera has reminded the nation of a very important fact.

Over half of the Maori population (53%) is under 25 years of age; one in four is under ten years.

Investing in young people is essential if we are committed to investing in our future.

The establishment of Te Umanga Oranga tells the nation that this College is preparing for our future; is nurturing the workforce of tomorrow; is establishing the capability that will lead this nation forward.

The Maori Party supports your vision; we endorse Te Umanga Oranga and we are delighted to share our thinking around education with representatives of the leaders of tomorrow gathered here today.

ENDS

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