On my way to Law School yesterday I bumped into the Kohanga Reo hikoi moving from the Cenotaph, just outside of the grounds of Parliament, towards the Waitangi Tribunal Office on the Terrace. From 3 News:
An urgent claim to the Waitangi Tribunal today is alleging discrimination against Te Kohanga Reo.Protesters say Te Kohanga Reo needs to be left in the hands of Maori, after years of bumping heads with the Ministry of Education.
They say Kohanga should no longer come under the control of the ministry and be given statutory recognition as an independent and stand-alone initiative.
Kohanga Reo are defined as early childhood centres (ECC), although they were never intended to operate as such and, for all intents and purposes, do not operate as such. The crux of the issue is that Kohanga are unable to operate according to tikanga while defined as ECC. It appears that regulations governing the operation of ECC’s prevent Kohanga from operating as intended. For example, kaumatua who are not registered and qualified teachers do not receive pay from the Ministry of Education and Kohanga must be fenced off from the Marae.
The claim is calling for an independent body to govern and administer the Kohanga Reo initiative. I’m not sure whether this is entirely necessary, but the logic behind it is clear. In my opinion, rather than create a new body Kohanga should be treated as separate entities with appropriate regulations governing their operation.
I’ll close this post with a few observations from the hikoi:
· Police presence was low in comparison with the MCA act hikoi. Most of the cops were Maori and Maori Wardens were used as well.
· 3 News estimated the hikoi to be 1200 strong. At the Cenotaph I estimated only about 300 – I’m not sure where the other 900 came from.
· I only spotted Hone Harawira and Parekura Horomia at the Cenotaph. Maybe I missed the Greens and Maori Party, but it is recess week so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Greens and Maori Party could not send MP’s.
· The hikoi was loud but composed and the waiata were beautiful.
· The claimants have engaged Mai Chen, New Zealand’s top public lawyer.