Last Friday I was privileged to join with Maori members of the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) at NorthTec’s Te Puna o Te Matauranga Marae in Whangarei. The purpose of the hui was to launch and celebrate Te Kaupapa Whaioranga – the Blueprint for Maori Tertiary Education.
The well-attended hui included Maori educators from all around the country, representing many of our universities, polytechs and wananga. In my korero I began by acknowledging the very difficult environment those in the tertiary sector are working in, and none more so than Maori. The government’s relentless assault on access, academic freedom, affordability, collegiality, and much else, has left many in the sector feeling shell-shocked and under siege.
Despite this debilitating context the TEU has produced an excellent, genuinely visionary document, outlining how much better the sector could be, and how opportunities and outcomes for Maori tauira and kaimahi could be enhanced. It begins with a set of key principles – Mana Atua, Mana Tangata; Mana Whenua; Mana Motuhake; Ahu Kawanatanga; Mana Tiriti – and offers an outline of how those principles could be realised in policy and practice.
The vision aligns well with Green party policy on the tertiary sector generally and Maori aspirations in particular. I look forward to a time when we are in a position to move the sector onto a much more positive and inclusive path.