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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Old methods no best methods in modern classes

The head of Canterbury University's school of Maori and Indigenous Studies says the exclusion of references to the Treaty of Waitangi in education policy is starting to make an impact.

Rawiri Taonui says the new national standards developed for Education Minister Anne Tolley ignore any sort of Maori dimension.

He says Maori ideas and Maori communities are being left out of the mix.

“We're seeing a return to a call of one standard, one size fits all, if teachers are good to people then everyone will do well and of course that’s really the formula we had during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s which didn’t work for Maori at all so there are real concerns in terms of education policy,” he says.

Rawiri Taonui says the national standards testing regime will do nothing to lift Maori performance.

SMOKEFREE GROUPS MEET TO CONSIDER INQUIRY STRATEGY

Anti-smoking organisations meet in Auckland today to consider responses to the Maori affairs select committee's inquiry into the tobacco industry.

Smokefree coalition director Prudence Stone says submissions close at the end of January, so it's important a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the case against the tobacco industry is not lost during the holiday season.

She says coalition members such as the heart, asthma, cancer and diabetes foundations can all shine a light on how Maori are affected.

“The tangata whenua wrap up all that’s wrong with the tobacco industry for all of us. If we can say it about Maori and what tobacco use has done, you can say it for all populations,” Ms Stone says.

She says the coalition wants its member organisations to leave the select committee in no doubt that the tobacco companies are killing Maori.

LONG TERM PLAN NEEDED FOR AUCKLAND MAORI SEATS

Green MP Keith Locke says a long term strategy will be needed to get dedicated Maori seats on the Auckland super city council.

Mr Locke, who has been involved in protests since the Vietnam War, says the first step is probably backing candidates at next year's local government election who are prepared to introduce such seats.

But long term a campaign of little and big protests may be needed to keep the issue in the spotlight.

“I think eventually we can win because it is so common sense to have dedicated Maori seats and not this idea of a consultative board that people might or might not listen to,” Mr Locke says.

A good start to the campaign would be a boycout of dial-a-Maori ceremonial functions and the government's proposed Maori statutory board.

QUESTIONS OVER IMPACXT OF STANDARDS TESTS ON CLASSES

Labour list MP Kelvin Davis says the new national education standards leave Maori immersion classes in mainstream schools up in the air.

The former Kaitaia intermediate principal says while testing for the mainstream standards will be imposed next year, it will be three years before Maori national standards are due.

He says the Maori standards won't be a direct translation, but the move to a levels-based system does raise questions about what is expected of Maori.

“There's no reason the Maori national standards can’t refer to those same levels unless of course the levels expected of Maori kids are different to the levels expected of mainstream kids and I wonder why that would be. Are the levels lower and there is a lower expectation of Maori kids to achieve. All these things just haven't been answered,” Mr Davis says.

He says school boards and teachers aren't convinced the standards will improve achievement.

INDIGENOUS VOICE NEEDED IN COPENHAGEN

Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson Keith Locke says Maori attending this week's United Nations climate change have a responsibility to make sure the indigenous voice is heard.

Forestry and land specialists Chris Insley from Ngati Porou and Roger Pikia from Te Arawa and Tainui are part of the New Zealand delegation in Copenhagen.

Mr Locke says the Maori Party's support for the National government's changes to New Zealand's emission's trading scheme means Maori are an important part of any solution here.

“In New Zealand of course planting trees is a big part of the solution and Maori can be part of that and leading the way there,” Mr Locke says.

He would also like to see the Maori delegates stand up for the other indigenous people of the Pacific such as those from Tokolau, which would be inundated by a one metre sea level rise.

MAORI REVIVAL INSPIRING HAWAIIAN EFFORTS

A visiting Hawaiian academic is crediting Maori with providing a template for the Hawaiian cultural revival.

Dr Mitchell Eli is leading a group to see how marae work, with the aim of building something similar in the islands.

He says on one of his first trips to Aotearoa back in the early 1980s, he was inspired by whhat was being done at places like Hoani Waiti Marae in west Auckland.

“We had one kohanga reo in a one bedroom house but to see this grow where the children are being taught by the elders and to see their ability to speak the language and learn the culture and build self esteem is astonishing to us, we never had anything like that in Honolulu back in 1981, so we took the information back and said we need to do this in Hawaii as well,” Dr Eli says.

There are now pre-schools and schools where native Hawaiians can regain their language and culture, so a marae would be a logical next step.

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