Wellbeing Budget recognises the importance of Kōhanga Reo

Kōhanga reo are set to get a boost with new funding support that will significantly lift wages, allow volunteers to be paid, update ICT capacity, and fund a stock take and repairs of their buildings, Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis announced today.

Kelvin Davis announced the $32 million Wellbeing Budget investment at Te Kōhanga Reo o Ngā Mokopuna in Wellington and said it acknowledges the crucial role kōhanga reo play in the survival and revitalisation of te reo Māori.

“This is the start of what equality for kōhanga reo looks like. Kōhanga reo are being sustained by voluntary work and lower than usual pay rates, and today’s announcement will go some way to recognising the importance of volunteers and staff,” Kelvin Davis said.

“Te reo Māori is a tāonga. We have a duty to protect it and kōhanga reo are essential to its survival and the first responders to teaching te reo Māori to the next generation.”

Kelvin Davis said the funding is a partial response to issues identified by the Waitangi Tribunal, who found in favour of a claim lodged by Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust (TKRNT) in 2011. The Crown has been working actively with TKRNT since 2017 to resolve these issues.

“The Crown, through the Ministry of Education, Te Arawhiti and other agencies, has been working through the issues identified by the Tribunal. Late last year some of the more pressing issues were recognised and these have been addressed in today’s announcement.                                   

“This is an example of how Te Arawhiti brings Māori and the Crown together. We have found a way forward to nurture and grow into the future,” Kelvin Davis said.

The funding

The focus of the funding is to address:

  1. The cost of making urgent improvements to the Trust’s and kōhanga reo ICT capacity and capability ($2.5m).
  2. The costs associated with the state of some kōhanga reo buildings. The Ministry of Education is working with TKRNT to assess kōhanga buildings to identify the extent of the issues ($8.5m).
  3. The most pressing need is staff costs. Minimum wage increases have disproportionately impacted kōhanga reo. Budget 2019 funding will provide a further $21.4m to:
    • Increase existing pay rates for kaiako and kaimahi (workers) to the Government’s stated 2021 minimum wage rate;
    • Maintain a level of existing relative pay rates for kaiako and kaimahi already above the minimum wage; and
    • Pay kaiako and kaimahi currently working as volunteers in roles that would normally be expected to be remunerated.

 

 

Notes for editors

  • In 2011 Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal triggered by the publication in 2011 of the report of the Early Childhood Education Taskforce.
     
  • The claimants said that the taskforce had not consulted with them, that the report had seriously damaged their reputation, and that the report, and Government policy based on it, would cause irreparable harm to the kōhanga reo movement.
     
  • The claimants also raised wide-ranging allegations of Treaty breach concerning the Crown's treatment of kōhanga reo over the past two decades. In particular, they said, the Crown had effectively assimilated the kōhanga reo movement into its early childhood education regime under the Ministry of Education, stifling its vital role in saving and promoting the Māori language and leading to a long decline in the number of Māori children participating in early childhood immersion in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori.
     
  • In 2012 the Tribunal found in favour of the claim.