Local iwi need space to have a say in Waiariki and Bay of Plenty polytechnics’ merger plans before they are approved says TEU’s Te Pou Tuarā Lee Cooper.
Cooper says the merger is not making enough space to hear the views of Te Mana Mātauranga, which represents the eight hapū in Te Arawa together with other neighbouring hapū and iwi – Whakatōhea, Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Whare to mention a few.
Te Mana Mātauranga is a trust which advises the Council and the chief executive of Waiariki, and ensures Waiariki fulfils its treaty obligations.
TEU met with Te Mana Mātauranga on Monday to discuss the merger.
Cooper says TEU is concerned that hapū and iwi within the region have not been involved actively in the current merger discussions so far.
“We know that each institution’s council has iwi or Māori representatives or advisors. But other than the cheif executive’s open letter to staff, students, iwi and stakeholders that formally announced the beginning of merger consultation, and an initial hui with iwi, we are not convinced that any formal processes are being undertaken by the institutions to work with those hapū and iwi.”
Cooper says the land Waiariki sits upon was gifted to it specifically for the purpose of educating local whānau, hāpu, iwi, and community and that Te Mana Mātauranga has a statutory role to decide not just what happens to that land but how the entire merger will proceed.
Cooper says TEU has raised these concerns with both polytechnics in its formal submission.
The union’s members are now lobbying to make sure the minister for tertiary education Steven Joyce hears from Te Mana Mātauranga and its Bay of Plenty Polytechnic equivalent Māori advisory body before he makes his decision on the proposed merger.