Kohanga reo claim back on the table

Spurred by critical 2011 report.

Spurred by critical 2011 report.

UP FOR DISCUSSION: Recently-appointed chairman of the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust Matua Hook is pleased to be in negotiation talks with the Government over its Treaty of Waitangi claim lodged in 2011. Picture by Shaan Te Kani

A Treaty of Waitangi claim lodged by the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust in 2011 is back on the negotiations table, and the trust is hoping for a beneficial outcome.

Trust chairman Matua Hook is from Ngati Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, and was appointed as chairman last December — taking over from previous co-chairs, te reo Maori exponent Sir Timoti Karetu and Tina Olsen-Ratana.

Mr Hook said the Treaty claim, Wai 2336, was one of the big issues the trust was currently dealing with.

“We’re trying to resolve a pathway forward,” he said.

“This claim was put on hold, but now with the new Labour Government, it’s back on the table again.

“Negotiations continue at the moment and we both want outcomes.”

In 2011 the trust filed a claim under urgency to the Waitangi Tribunal after the then National government slammed the kohanga reo movement in a report titled Early Childhood Education Taskforce Report.

The trust said that the taskforce had not consulted with them, that the report had seriously damaged their reputation, and that the report, and government policy based on it, would cause irreparable harm to the kohanga reo movement.

The claimants also raised wide-ranging allegations of Treaty breach concerning the Crown’s treatment of kohanga reo over the past two decades.

In particular, they said, the Crown had “effectively assimilated” the kohanga reo movement into its early childhood education regime under the Ministry of Education.

They said the Crown stifled its role in saving and promoting the Maori language, which led to a decline in the number of Maori children participating in kohanga reo.

The Waitangi Tribunal found in favour of the trust.

But any negotiations to do with the claim had been put on hold in 2015 by the then Minister of Education Hekia Parata, who called for a reform of the trust.

Ms Parata had said that a new governance model was a pre-requisite for resuming discussions on the Treaty of Waitangi claim.

“Basically that report was the catalyst for our claim,” said Mr Hook.

“It is viewed as a contemporary claim but we consider this to be a traditional grievance as well.

“Kohanga was under the direction of Maori Affairs and then we came under the Ministry of Education. That had an adverse impact on kohanga reo.”

Mr Hook said Te Kohanga Reo could not be classed as just an early childhood centre.

“We focus on the survival of te reo Maori and tikanga Maori, and also the social development of whanau.

“We are the highest employer of Maori women throughout the country.

“Kohanga reo is a whanau development initiative. There’s a place for everyone in kohanga reo.

“Whanau development happens naturally through kohanga. It is a place where not just our tamariki, but our whanau are able to learn and thrive.”

A Treaty of Waitangi claim lodged by the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust in 2011 is back on the negotiations table, and the trust is hoping for a beneficial outcome.

Trust chairman Matua Hook is from Ngati Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, and was appointed as chairman last December — taking over from previous co-chairs, te reo Maori exponent Sir Timoti Karetu and Tina Olsen-Ratana.

Mr Hook said the Treaty claim, Wai 2336, was one of the big issues the trust was currently dealing with.

“We’re trying to resolve a pathway forward,” he said.

“This claim was put on hold, but now with the new Labour Government, it’s back on the table again.

“Negotiations continue at the moment and we both want outcomes.”

In 2011 the trust filed a claim under urgency to the Waitangi Tribunal after the then National government slammed the kohanga reo movement in a report titled Early Childhood Education Taskforce Report.

The trust said that the taskforce had not consulted with them, that the report had seriously damaged their reputation, and that the report, and government policy based on it, would cause irreparable harm to the kohanga reo movement.

The claimants also raised wide-ranging allegations of Treaty breach concerning the Crown’s treatment of kohanga reo over the past two decades.

In particular, they said, the Crown had “effectively assimilated” the kohanga reo movement into its early childhood education regime under the Ministry of Education.

They said the Crown stifled its role in saving and promoting the Maori language, which led to a decline in the number of Maori children participating in kohanga reo.

The Waitangi Tribunal found in favour of the trust.

But any negotiations to do with the claim had been put on hold in 2015 by the then Minister of Education Hekia Parata, who called for a reform of the trust.

Ms Parata had said that a new governance model was a pre-requisite for resuming discussions on the Treaty of Waitangi claim.

“Basically that report was the catalyst for our claim,” said Mr Hook.

“It is viewed as a contemporary claim but we consider this to be a traditional grievance as well.

“Kohanga was under the direction of Maori Affairs and then we came under the Ministry of Education. That had an adverse impact on kohanga reo.”

Mr Hook said Te Kohanga Reo could not be classed as just an early childhood centre.

“We focus on the survival of te reo Maori and tikanga Maori, and also the social development of whanau.

“We are the highest employer of Maori women throughout the country.

“Kohanga reo is a whanau development initiative. There’s a place for everyone in kohanga reo.

“Whanau development happens naturally through kohanga. It is a place where not just our tamariki, but our whanau are able to learn and thrive.”

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