28 Apr 2012

Tribunal ends public hearings on pre-schools

9:30 pm on 28 April 2012

Waitangi Tribunal hearings into Maori pre-schools has wrapped up - with a claimant thanking the Crown for fronting-up at the hearing.

Kohanga Reo National Trust Board brought a claim seeking self-management.

Among the Crown's address on Friday was evidence of the relationship between Maori pre-schools and the Government body which checks on the quality of education.

As part of its closing submissions, the Crown disputed an assertion that the Education Review Office examines kohanga in the same way as mainstream early childhood education centres.

The Crown told the tribunal that kohanga helped the Education Review Office develop a framework to report on Maori pre-schools.

Towards the end of the inquiry, a kohanga board member, Te Wharehuia Milroy, thanked the Crown's lawyers, Ben Keith and Damen Ward.

He said in te reo that if it wasn't for them, the movement wouldn't be able to air its views.

Mr Keith appeared to smile in acknowledgement of Mr Milroy's comment - which was translated to him through an interpreter.

Te Wharehuia Milroy said he understands the Government regulations are there to help teachers nurture children, but he indicated those rules risk killing the philosophy of kohanga.

The claimants now have the opportunity to submit to the tribunal in writing its response to the Crown's closing submissions.

Earlier , the Waitangi Tribunal heard that the Teachers' Council is capable of approving a qualification created by Maori for Maori.

It's one of many arguments being explored by the Tribunal, which is hearing closing submissions from the Crown in response to a self-management claim from Maori pre-schools.

The Tribunal has questioned the Crown about whether the Teachers Council could approve a qualification designed by the Kohanga Reo National Trust.

It also queried whether the movement would have to change its programme, Tohu Whakapakari, to fit the council's framework designed by western society.

In response, Crown lawyer Ben Keith said the Teachers Council did approve qualifications brought by other centres with a Maori philosophy, such as Kura Kaupapa.

The tribunal said kura were created well after kohanga and had to meet certain standards.

It said the evidence shows kohanga have been successful.

The Waitangi Tribunal earlier said evidence has suggested that Tohu Whakapakari appears to be the same as the qualification rubber stamped by the Teachers Council.

Mr Keith said for kohanga to get funding, the ministry required the movement to go through the council.

He told the tribunal that the kohanga engaged with the council in the early 2000s to have its qualification registered, but the kohanga didn't follow through.

Mr Keith said if the kohanga were to go back through the process, its evidence suggests there's some support for the programme.