Today marks a historic change for Māori tertiary institutions, with Wānanga able to self-determine how they operate for the first time.
Wānanga is now to choose to remain a bespoke Crown entity Wānanga or convert to a non-Crown entity Wānanga in which they will be accountable to iwi, hapū or another Māori organisation while retaining some Crown accountability.
“This framework has taken many years. But it is an important and positive reflection of the relationship between the Crown and Wānanga and acknowledges how Wānanga differ from other tertiary institutions,” Associate Minister of Education, Kelvin Davis said.
This new framework has been designed in collaboration with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Te Wānanga o Raukawa, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and the Ministry of Education and provides for new administrative settings for Wānanga that are fit-for-purpose, and recognise their unique role, functions, purposes, and contributions to the tertiary education sector.
“Wānanga have been restricted in their ability to operate and express rangatiratanga. These changes will enhance Wānanga rangatiratanga and move them closer to achieving their own aspirations,” Mr Davis said.
The Bill will also see Kura Kaupapa Māori restored to their previous position as distinct types of state schools in the Act. It does this by separating the establishment provisions for Kura Kaupapa Māori from those of designated character schools, recognising their distinct nature.
Other changes to the Bill include strengthening school governance and putting better protections in place for children and young people at schools and early learning services.
“The changes include an extension of time for elect student representatives which we hope helps increase their participation in school board elections,” said Education Minister, Jan Tinetti.
“It also means a person convicted of an offence listed in Schedule 2 of the Children’s Act 2014 will not be eligible for election on to a state school board of trustees unless the Secretary for Education grants an exemption. The Secretary will also be able to conduct audits on board members to check they meet eligibility criteria.
“There is also a change to make it explicit in the Act that employers at schools and early childhood services must consider Police vetting and assess risks to the safety of children before non-teaching and unregistered workers begin work, or before contractors have unsupervised access to children,” she said.
The Bill also makes changes to help with the development of an early childhood education equity index, which will ensure equity funding is better allocated to support children from low socio-economic backgrounds.