Te Kohanga Reo Waitangi Tribunal Hearing

Press Release – Te Kohanga Reo Trust

Te Kohanga Reo Trust Board will have its urgent claim heard before the Waitangi Tribunal on 12 March 2012 at the Trust Board in Wellington, which will fight to return kohanga reo to realising the aim of the kaupapa as established by kaumatua in 1982.Te Kohanga Reo Trust Board will have its urgent claim heard before the Waitangi Tribunal on 12 March 2012 at the Trust Board in Wellington, which will fight to return kohanga reo to realising the aim of the kaupapa as established by kaumatua in 1982.

The Trust Board claims that the Crown has treated kohanga reo like an Early Childhood Education provider, thereby undermining its and contributing to the perilous state of te reo Maori.

“We have exhausted every possible avenue to inform the Crown of the kohanga reo kaupapa, and endeavour to gain their understanding that kohanga reo are not just an ECE centre. Kohanga reo are about the role and responsibility of whanau in the development of te reo me nga tikanga Maori. The Waitangi Tribunal was lodged as a result of whanau concerns,” said Dame Iritana Te Rangi Tawhiwhirangi.

“Kohanga reo are one of the most vital and crucial ways of protecting te reo me nga tikanga Maori. The Crown should be actively protecting kohanga reo, instead of imposing requirements that undermine the kaupapa ”, says Dame Iritana.

The hearing will be held at the Trust Board head office in Wellington from 12 to 23 March 2012.

“Many have come together to be the voice of kohanga whanau as witnesses. We are taking the claim to the Waitangi Tribunal on behalf of tens of thousands of kohanga whanau around the country. We have to take action now as the Crown’s policies and regulations are proving to be obstacles that are crushing the spirit and enjoyment of whanau nationally,” says Tina Olsen-Ratana, Co-Chair of the Trust Board.

Ms Olsen-Ratana said, “Without urgent action, the movement will continue to be assimilated as ECE providers. This will be a tragedy for Māori”.

The Trust Board proposes kohanga reo-specific legislation as a means to true partnership with the Crown. Specific legislation will also allow whanau greater control and responsibility over their taonga, kohanga reo, while still being accountable for public funding and allowing the Crown to actively protect te tino rangatiratanga over taonga.

“Kohanga reo is about whanau. We are fighting to restore the ultimate rights and responsibilties of kohanga whanau, particularly in terms of their mokopuna, te reo and tikanga Māori,” says Dame Iritana.

The Trust’s urgent claim will be heard from 12 – 23 March 2012 at the Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board’s premises at 67 Hankey Street, Wellington CBD, Wellington.

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