As tāngata whenua we share a vision of an Aotearoa where all our tamariki thrive in education, are confident in their culture and have the tools to navigate their life-long learning journey. A world where all our rangatahi enjoy an education that sets them on a pathway towards meaningful employment and a decent income so they can live a life of opportunity, mana and choice – tino rangatiratanga in action!
Our challenge is addressing the systemic bias and racism that acts as a barrier for many and channels too many Māori into low skill, low pay, low security jobs.
Getting it right for our rangatahi means re-designing our current education system to create something we haven’t had before – a system designed for Māori success where all our tamariki thrive, not just some.
The current Review of Vocational Education (RoVE) presents the perfect opportunity for iwi and the Crown to work together as Treaty partners to redesign the system to be free of institutional racism and systemic bias. Only by working alongside each other, mana ki te mana – holding hands as mutually supportive Treaty partners can we transform our education system to transform Māori outcomes.
Following the Canterbury Earthquakes, Ngāi Tahu were made statutory partners in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 which recast the relationships and dynamics of power in our region. Ngāi Tahu voice and perspective were entrenched in not only the legislation but also the mindset of our community. Our leaders appeared alongside our civic leaders where we often played a key role brokering and convening different partners together to advance the kaupapa.
Simply put the CERA Act was a game changer as it recast the relationships between our Treaty partnerships and rebalanced the dynamics of power. Our people played a pivotal role in the recovery and the unique perspectives of our communities added insights, innovations and direction that couldn’t have occurred otherwise. This one simple act changed the system and laid the platform for new relationships and dynamics of power in our takiwā.
This unique statutory relationship was the envy of many iwi but the point is it shouldn’t take a geological disaster for us to come together in new ways.
Given the significance of the opportunity and the pace of the current reforms and legislation, the current Review of Vocational Education (RoVE) risks missing the opportunity to not just reform the structural elements of our current education system but also address the culture, mindsets and biases that sit behind it.
To capitalise on the opportunity of our growing rangatahi population we need to shift Treaty partnership from consultation to co-designing and co-deciding the new world order for education. It is through authentic Treaty partnership that iwi can unlock their potential to contribute fresh thinking and future-focused solutions to support our rangatahi into the jobs of tomorrow.
We all have a part to play but we will all need to lead together to ensure all our rangatahi can live a life of opportunity in a fair and just Aotearoa.