The proposed protest by the Primary School Teachers Union (NZEI) to deliberately coincide with the International Summit on the Teaching Profession to be hosted by Aotearoa New Zealand will not be tolerated and left unchallenged, say prominent iwi leaders from throughout the country.
We as iwi leaders stand together in strongly condemning the NZEI. We call on them to cancel their protest for the greater good of Aotearoa New Zealand. We also issue a strong call to all Maori members of the NZEI to withdraw their membership at once. Their mana as Tangata Whenua must surely count for something and take precedence over their unionship.
The tikanga of mana is at stake. We will not stand idly by and allow the mana of the Minister of Education, the Honourable Hekia Parata, her people, our people to be manipulated and trampled on. We, Dr Apirana Mahuika, Sir Toby Curtis, Sir Mark Solomon, Raniera Tau, Willie Te Aho, Awanuiarangi Black, Tiwha Puketapu, Naida Glavish, Sir Tamati Reedy and Pem Bird caution NZEI that they are putting their hard earned excellent reputation earned over a sustained period of time on the line and for what purpose?
The International Summit is the most prestigious educational event on the world calendar, a huge coup for our Minister of Education, Hekia Parata. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Aotearoa New Zealand to showcase all aspects of our fabulous education system to renowned educational leaders from throughout the OECD community of nations.
It should be an occasion when all diverse sectors of Aotearoa New Zealand, our cities, our towns, rural communities, whanau, hapu and iwi join together as one, putting any differences we may have aside and focus instead on the positives that make us a great nation in which to bring up our children. We have much to be proud of, indeed we have much to celebrate and share.
Ideas and innovations will be discussed. Inspirational addresses will be delivered and all for the express purpose of advancing not only our national educational interests but also those of the global community. And yet despite all of this, we are going to have to witness the deeply offensive and cynical spectacle of a once honourable union exploiting this event for their own selfish needs, whatever they are.
It is not to late to exit with dignity. NZEI we urge you to come into the whare.
I presume the protest being referred to is the rally in Queen Street this Saturday.
The teaching summit is being held in Wellington so it is unlikely anyone going to it will be troubled by or even know anything about the rally.
However, the timing is a coincidence which suggests a deliberate attempt by NZEI to emphasise the negative while the positive is being celebrated at the other end of the island.
It also suggests they are more interested in politics than education.
UPDATE – one rally is going to be marching on parliament.
Education Minister Hekia Parata said she was disappointed with the protest timing, especially given NZEI’s involvement in the organisation of the summit and being part of previous delegations to New York and Amsterdam.
She would continue to have a relationship with the union, which was one of the objectives of the cross-sector forum that was set up following the first summit.
“We will continue to try to work together but it does take two.” . . .
Nga Kura-a-Iwi, a federation representing Maori schools, has also spoken out against the NZEI and the “disrespect” it has shown the summit.
Co-chairwoman Arihia Stirling said it was an “inappropriate time to be airing dirty linen”.
“It’s wrong to do this now, we don’t have people dying in the street, we don’t have people bleeding at the hands of the education sector . . . it’s poor judgment of the leadership of the union to do this at this time.
“Why would you air your dirty linen in front of the world when it’s imperative we get the rest of the world down here to learn and strengthen our education system?” . . .
The timing and venue mean it’s not less about education and more about politics.
It’s far less about making a point about poverty, it’s directly aimed at embarrassing the Minister while she’s hosting an international event.