Schools' Waitangi complaint
Mon, 17 Sep 2012 6:04p.m.
By Jane Luscombe
Two Maori-language schools in Christchurch have taken a dramatic step to avoid merging.
Te Whanau Tahi and Waitaha schools are lodging a complaint with the Waitangi Tribunal. They say the Government is threatening their cultural identity.
Pupil Aaria Rolleston holds the hopes of her entire school – inside an envelope is a complaint to the Waitangi Tribunal.
The Government wants her school to merge with the only other kura kaupapa in Christchurch, but the school believes it's breaching the Treaty by removing a choice of education.
“We want to keep our kura and still stay here in our classrooms and not close down,” says Aaria.
It's rare for a school to make a tribunal claim. The school board chairman's never heard of it before, but he's unrepentant.
“I think it's no more drastic than telling us we need to merge with another school,” says Huata Martindale.
The schools say they each have their own unique cultural identity that would be lost if they merged.
“It won't feel good because I've grown up here,” says pupil Taane Flanagan. “I've grown up with all this whakapapa.”
“We are ready to stand tall and fight for what we have worked really, really hard for and what we do really, really well,” says parent Stephanie Richardon.
The Government's trying to balance the demands of 18 schools earmarked for mergers, including the two kura kaupapa, and says it will talk to all of them.
But Education Minister Hekia Parata didn't accept the kura's cultural identity marked them out for special treatment.
“I think all of the schools would say they have a distinct and particular community flavour,” says Ms Parata.
The kura fear the proposed merger is part of a plan to open a charter school in their place – a claim firmly denied by the minister.
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21/09/2012 8:01:40 a.m.
Biggles theses schools aren't racist. I'm sure anybody can send their kids to these schools. In fact I think they would love it if more Pakeha went to their schools. Maori immersion schools still teach the important subjects like Math etc.
18/09/2012 1:11:59 p.m.
Both of them should be shut down, they are racist and there is no place for them. Kids should be taught at a school that will benefit them in the real world, learning Maori gives them nothing in future life.
18/09/2012 9:00:59 a.m.
Martin of course the kids hold thier own bias, what child would want thier own school shut down! And I'd have to disagree with you Mark.. there are only two full immersion Maori school in the whole of Chch, they are most definately special and worth protecting. However nice idea, maybe you should put it to the local iwi Ngai Tahu. Kia kaha Whanau tahi me Te Whakapumau, Mauri ora.
18/09/2012 7:29:42 a.m.
Its not fair on any of these schools that have to merge but none of these schools are more special than the other. It all comes down to numbers. End of the day if you want to stay then get one of these tribes that have been paid out to buy the school from the govt and become a private school.
18/09/2012 1:37:06 a.m.
I'm not saying this is bad but it's wrong, kids don't know any better and know nothing about politics, I'm totally against john key but you're sort of manipulating these kids... I hope your telling them from a non bias view and letting them decide for themselves.
17/09/2012 9:25:58 p.m.
Kia kaha koutou! Good on you for taking a stand and using the resources available to you to fight this unreasonable action!
17/09/2012 8:24:07 p.m.
It will be interesting to see what the outcome of this claim is if it gets that far. Most would already agree that this claim has no substance. The government is trying to save money by merging these schools and this does not make kura kaupapa any special. What action can the remaining 16 schools take if they dont wish to merge? Absolutely nothing! They cant lodge a claim with the waitangi tribunal, they just have to bite the bullet. This is getting stupid these claims and again at the taxpayers expense.
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