Māori education: 'We certainly have got a lot of work to do'

3:49 pm on 8 December 2018

The Tomorrow School's Review has shown changes are needed to the education system to stop it failing Māori.

A He Kākano student works on his art.

A He Kākano student works on his art. Photo: RNZ / Mihingarangi Forbes

The review taskforce is calling for a national Kaupapa Māori education hub committed to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi to be set-up.

The review showed it was yet to significantly improve Māori students' learning experiences and success.

The taskforce recommends setting up a national hub dedicated to Kaupapa Māori allowing principals, boards of trustees, iwi, and the community to work together and lead change.

And it's estimated Māori educational inequity is costing the economy $2.6 billion a year.

Mainstream education failing Māori

President of the Te Akatea Māori Principals Association Myles Ferris was part of the reference group for the review.

Mr Ferris said the systemic racism within the education system was a key concern for Māori education.

In particular the appointments of leadership roles in education were often made by non-Māori and pākehā.

"Even with their best interest at heart [they] don't always value the experience of the Māori education leader or kaiako."

Māori make up 25 percent of the school-aged population.

But for too long cultural competency had not been focused on schools, Mr Ferris said.

"When we have students in this country saying in their own words that 'my teacher is racist,' we certainly have got a lot of work to do."

Mr Ferris said the proposed changes in the review needed to have significant financial backing.

"If it's going to be a watered down response due to the fact the funding is not available then I would think this whole process has been a bit of a waste of time."

Lack of support for kaupapa Māori

The review found there's also been a poor provision for Kaupapa Māori schooling.

This includes inefficient management of the network of schooling and the underutilisation of The Correspondence School - Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu.

Around two and half percent of school aged students go to Kura Kaupapa Māori, Kura a iwi and Wharekura.

Te Rūnanga Nui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa chief executive Rawiri Wright said he welcomed the shake up to the education system.

"The significant theme that came through is the built in inequity, built in racism within the education system as it is - which disenfranchised us as a movement."

Mr Wright said the review findings offered a complete overhaul of how education worked in New Zealand.

He wants kaupapa Māori schooling to be at the centre of the changes.

"We need more kura [teachers]. There aren't enough kura to meet the demand, there are not enough kaiako to meet the demand.

"There are not enough high quality te reo Māori resources."

The Ka Hikitia strategy, which was set up 10 years ago to rapidly change how the education system served Māori, was highlighted as not working in the report.

However, Rawiri Wright said kura kaupapa settings made the strategy work and this shows in NCEA results.

"It has not worked for Māori kids who are in the majority culture stream education system."

A lack of representation

The report shows 58 percent of schools across the country do not have enough Māori on their board to adequately represent the proportion of Māori students at the school.

In particular, Māori whānau, Pacifica parents, and parents of children with disabilities or additional learning needs felt they were lone voices on their board.

New Zealand School Trustees Association president Lorraine Kerr is on her school board of trustees which has a 90 percent Māori student roll but only two of seven members are Māori.

It was a similar situation on school boards around the country where Māori were often the lone voice, Ms Kerr said.

Ms Kerr said Māori should be the ones teaching boards about whanaungatana (relationships) and manaakitanga (support) on boards.

"When we operate it's not about treading on people's mana it's usually about the kaupapa on the table."