15 Jun 2015

Minister accused of stalling kōhanga claim

7:42 pm on 15 June 2015

Kōhanga Reo National Trust co-chair Tina Olsen-Ratana is accusing the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, of delaying negotiations on the kōhanga reo Treaty of Waitangi claim.

National MP

Education Minister Hekia Parata - pictured at Parliament in May 2015 Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Wai 2336 claim accuses the Crown of assimilating the kōhanga reo movement into its early childhood education regime under the Ministry of Education.

The claim asserts that it led to a decline in the number of Māori children attending kōhanga reo.

Ms Olsen-Ratana said, now that allegations of misspending by its subsidiary arm Te Pataka Ohanga have been found to be groundless, the kohanga movement wanted to move on.

But she said Ms Parata was resisting that demand.

"She [Ms Parata] wants a modern governance model, well, I don't know what that means? None of us do," Ms Olsen-Ratana said.

Ms Olsen-Ratana said she wanted clarity and an explanation from the minister about what exactly was meant by her description of a governance model.

"Whatever that looks like, [it's] down to the kōhanga reo whānau and the board, and they've made their decision. They've clearly said to us that this is the board that they want in place to complete this claim," she said.

"Looking forward, there could be governance changes and the minister is fully aware of this and still she [Ms Parata] refuses to put the claim on the table."

Ms Olsen-Ratana said the kōhanga movement just wanted to move forward now and address the claim, after the Minister of Education took it off the agenda in 2013.

She said, as a result, the Kōhanga Reo National Trust has been subjected to about five reviews, all of which have found no illegal activity and no wrongdoing by the trust.

Ms Olsen-Ratana admitted that the reviews did find the need for system and process improvements, which the trust has adopted.

She said the kōhanga whānau have had to carry the burden of being scrutinised for 18 months, which had seriously tarnished the reputation of the kōhanga reo movement.

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