• Georgina te Heuheu
Associate Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiation

Tu Tangata is more than an education programme it is a state of mind. It's about people "standing up" and doing things for themselves and their communities.

This is what the original concept was in the early 1980's and it remains the same today. I am very pleased to be here this morning to support the concept that has been a formal catch cry for our people for almost 20yrs. But of course Tu Tangata has always been there - it is part of our tradition.

There are two ways of looking at things, we can externalise things or we can internalise things.

When we externalise an issue or a problem we're saying, "Look at us, look at our problem. Who did this to us and who is going to fix it?"

When we internalise a problem we say - "This is our problem, now what are we going to do about it?"

All of you here today have seen the problem, and rather than wait for others to do something about it you have taken the initiative.

You have said what are we going to do about this? And now you can proudly say, "Look what we have done and we are committed to this because it works."

In return I say, "Kia ora" if more people of our people approached matters of concern to us all in the way you have, then we would be all the better for it.

The results of the last four and a half years of Tu Tangata programmes in schools show that we are capable of finding ways to reduce the serious gap in the education performance of our young. And the beauty is, this can work not just for those who are at risk but indeed for all our children.

For years there have been many different types of solutions thrown at communities all around the world. What the Tu Tangata communities have done is to place on the table for all to see, for politicians, bureaucrats, community leaders and parents alike, the opportunity - the new pathway which has always existed - for a chance to recover our strength as a people and to take a giant step forward for our young.

Tu Tangata, as demonstrated by your teams in our schools, offer New Zealand an exciting way "to get on with the job". We do not need feasibility studies, social reports, education surveys and major restructuring to get ourselves into Tu Tangata business.

It is an approach that is simple and something that we can all do. Because the first resource is there already - ourselves, that is us and our children and the schools are there also because some are part of our communities and they belong to the people.

Tu Tangata has shown how we can mobilise our communities into the classrooms to improve the prospects for our children and ourselves.

We need more of our people to pick up the opportunities for improving the lives of our families through our children. Tu Tangata is about our people and our communities standing tall. It is about improving the educational opportunities for our children to enable our whanau, hapu, Iwi and all communities to face the future with strength and confidence.

Tu Tangata involves supporting and sitting alongside our kids in the classroom every day. This is what has been going on now in a number of schools and it is producing amazing results.

Truancy and suspension rates are down, general classroom behaviour has improved, learning time is increased, school certificate passes are up by 25 % and kids are motivated to getting on with their school work.

And an important spin off is that some of you who are involved with the programme are deciding to take the opportunity to re-educate yourselves and some to sit School C, so families and communities are educating themselves.

The bottom line is that the Tu Tangata approach gives us the chance to move our communities into our schools, to be with our children at a time when they need our support and help most. It lets us encourage them through their school years and show our total commitment to their future. Because their future is our future.

Tu Tangata has shown if we are willing to commit in this manner to help our children through the education system then it can produce very successful results.

The question now is "How can we better mobilise and support our community workforce created by the Tu Tangata programme". This is something that we all should turn our minds to, community leaders and politicians included.

You have produced the results and "the way". We must now take up the challenge and ensure these opportunities expand and grow.

Thank you for bringing your message of opportunity to this place. It gives all of us a chance to focus on the results which your hard work has produced over the last four years, and hopefully points the direction for the coming years.

Tu Tangata is an "old way", reshaped as an new initiative to meet the needs of our time. It has opened up our minds. In the same way that Te Kohanga Reo came into being to provide a unique solution to a particular problem, so too does this programme presents our schools and communities with a way forward.

Tu Tangata in the 90's saw the need and decided to do something positive about it.

The great thing about the Tu Tangata programme was that it has foreshadowed the current Government approach which is to encourage communities to come up with their own solutions to meet their own needs and address their problems themselves.

This is a recognition by Government that home grown solutions are the best solutions because they better provide for commitments and buy in from community involved.

If people are committed then success is more likely guaranteed.
Congratulations to all those who developed this programme, which like Te Kohanga Reo developed and grew, against all odds.

Your presentations will help us all to move forward with a greater understanding of how to continue this good work. I wish you well today, congratulations.