Signing of Kawenata between Ministry of Education and Ngā Iwi 

Signing of Kawenata between Ministry of Education and Ngā Iwi 

Tāpeka te wharepuni, Waihi Marae, Waihi Village


Thank you for the opportunity to share a few thoughts with you about this occasion.

Today we are breaking new ground in the development of Tiriti-based partnerships with public service agencies.

This is an historic occasion; it was 20 years ago when Māori educationalists gathered here under the mantle of Tā Tumu and carved out an agenda for Māori educational success.

The broad aim then, as it is today, was seeking active Māori participation in the design of education policies and programmes within a model of partnership and from the foundations of a focused Māori voice.

Tā Mason Durie in his summary report on Hui Taumata Mātauranga 2001 drew a link for me that at first was hard to understand.

He spoke about the event itself – denoting its significance because it was being hosted by the Paramount Chief, Tā Tumu, and Ngāti Tūwharetoa.

In the same breath he also talked about the Coronation of Te Arikinui, Dame Te Atairangikaahu that was occurring later that year and drew on the historical links between Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Waikato-Tainui that in essence forged the Kingitanga as we know it today.

Tā Mason then went on to say this:

It may not be clear how these events, occurring one hundred and forty-three years ago, are pertinent to The Hui Taumata Mātauranga. Underlying both occasions, however, was the interest in building a relationship between Māori and the Crown based on mutual respect and shared benefits.

Likewise, this occasion may be assigned to history like Hui Taumata Mātauranga 2001 or subsequent hui -- but for now I say we are standing at the precipice of change in how the public service partners with Iwi, Māori, hapū and whānau.

I must acknowledge the fact that it’s taken 20 years to get there.

For there are many people who have come and gone in that time who shared this moemoea 20 years ago. Thankfully, some of their mokopuna have taken up the wero.

The Kawenata is a Tiriti-based relationship agreement that sets out the principles, aspirations, and strategic aims of the partnership.

This relationship is guided by these words from the aspirations of Ngā Iwi:

“Kia Tūwharetoa ki te ao “

“Raukawa Kia Mau, Kia Ora“

“Ko te Mana Maatauranga“

This Kawenata is a commitment to build upon relationships, as well as the mutual and collective responsibility to ensure that the Ministry of Education and Ngā iwi put into action a true, enduring Treaty partnership by:

  • Co-designing a framework between parties to realise Iwi aspiration for Māori learner success.
  • Ensuring learners and tamariki can thrive and experience the world knowing and understanding who they are; and
  • Resourcing the growth of our own puna mātauranga within our learners and tamariki.

Currently educational priorities are Ministry driven and transactional costs are high on both sides.

Tūwharetoa, Raukawa and Waikato-Tainui span four Ministry regions, and their priorities align with multiple Ministry groups.

They work with four directors of education, seven strategic advisors Māori, a range of contract managers for multiple contracts, and produce numerous milestone reports annually.

While the Ministry can build capacity to service these contracts, Ngā Iwi has fewer resources. 

Ngā Iwi and the Ministry have worked together to design a plan to reduce transactional costs for both sides while giving effect to the principles, aspirations, and strategic aims of the Kawenata.

The plan is relatively simple:

  • Establish a framework to shape and develop initiatives.
  • Ngā Iwi will lead partnership arrangements with the Ministry.
  • The Ministry will work in partnership with Ngā Iwi to determine priorities, the best approach, solutions, and reporting milestones.
  • Key outcomes and priorities are developed in partnership with Ngā Iwi, and funding for out-years is determined based on need.

The Kawenata is timely.

The Ministry is currently in the process of redesigning the way it works and how it can give better effect to Te Tiriti.

The Ministry asks a lot of its partners but doesn’t always back this up with good processes or genuine partnerships.

Its systems and processes are complex and over time it has developed funding models that suit their requirements but are hard for people outside the Ministry to navigate.

Partnering does not mean taking the feedback of one iwi and applying it across all Māoridom. 

In this time of change the Ministry is committed to transforming the way they work with Iwi, Māori, hapū and whānau.

Last year I relaunched Ka Hikitia and Tau Mai te Reo, the Māori Education Strategies.

 They outline the following:

  • The education sector must put Māori learners and their whānau at the centre of their work.
  • We need an education system that gives Māori agency over education for Māori.
  • The system needs to account for the diversity of Māori; and
  • Māori learners need an environment that is free from racism, stigma and discrimination.

This Kawenata is a starting point. 

We look forward to working with Iwi to address the issues together. Iwi will keep us accountable to these outcomes. 

As I said at the beginning, the Kawenata is ground-breaking and its noise will shake up the public service. 

As I started my kōrero with a quote from Tā Mason, I’d also like to end that way and remind us that the echoes of the past are still reverberating:

In the end, the most important product of the Hui, gains in education aside, may be the endorsement of a relationship between Māori and the Crown - a relationship that is less preoccupied with the grievances of last century, and more committed to planning a secure future for the generations ahead.

In that process there will be tasks for the State, tasks for Māori, and tasks best managed by joint action.

Naa reira, i runga i te whakaaro nui aa raatou maa,  he puna wai nui,  he ia rere roa, tau ana!