Māori members at Te Ã…ª hui-ā-motu have voted to oppose Hon Sir Roger Douglas’ Education Amendment (Freedom of Association) Bill.
The bill would compel students to make the membership of their representative associations voluntary.” Under the current legislation, introduced by the National Party last time it helped form the Government, students have the right to vote collectively about the membership of their associations.
Sir Roger, a list member of parliament for the ACT” Party, had his private member’s bill drawn from the ballot a few weeks ago and has since been campaigning for its passage through parliament. The National Party has not yet indicated if it will support the bill.
Hui-ā-motu debated the” bill last week and resolved to support the NZUSA position that “the current legislative framework is both flexible and inclusive, allowing for both voluntary and universal membership of students’ associations”.
Te Mana Akonga, the national Māori tertiary students association, believes that student representation is imperative to all students accessing quality education. Tumuaki for Te Mana Akonga, Jacqualene Poutu, said that “the student voice is important to institutions and stakeholder engagement from students is a transparent and accepted practice.”
The hui resolution reads “we believe that the current legislation allows students to be the decision-makers on whether their association is voluntary or compulsory through transparent democratic referenda and have accordingly and consistently chosen to remain compulsory.”
Some staff at tertiary institutions have expressed concern that were students to be” compelled to convert their associations” to voluntary membership, and” then subsequently suffer a fall in membership, those associations could stop offering many of the services that they currently provide.” This could result in increased workload for tertiary education staff as a result of students receiving less pastoral support on campus.
Photos of the hui-ā-motu are available on the TEU website.