Te Tiriti Transformation.

By Tumu Whakarae | National President Tina Smith

When taking on a representative role, like the National President of the TEU, you bring your own expertise and experience to the table, and that’s important. But it is also important to listen and learn from the experiences and expertise of others.

As a Pākehā nurse tutor from a polytechnic, it is important to me to have a council that is representative of the people who make up our broad and varied membership.

The current council has a range of representatives such as university academics, general staff, ITP, and wānanga members, the Women’s Vice President and Vice President Māori, those under 35 years, and Pasifika representation. Each council member brings to the decision-making their lived experience and expertise that is invaluable to steer the TEU’s national actions and decisions.

As part of our Te Tiriti Transformation project we need to think through who gets a seat at the table, what experiences and expertise they bring to the decision-making, and what this means in terms of Te Tiriti relationships and responsibilities.

Members who have been joining in the discussion around the rules review process have identified that co-governance is the way to ensure proper accord is given to Māori as tangata whenua and the way to ensure Māori expertise and experience is adequately heard in decision-making discussions.

This doesn’t mean that the experience and expertise of other groups isn’t recognised. Co-governance means having decision-making bodies nationally that reflect the intent of the articles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It means 10 representatives with experience and expertise from tangata Tiriti (all who are non-Māori) would be matched by 10 tangata whenua (Māori) representatives and their experience and expertise. The expertise of ten Māori academic and general staff from across the sector will be matched by the expertise of 10 non-Māori.

In the council room we would talk and bring the varied experiences and expertise to the table in order to make decisions that work for all TEU members, because that is what we’ll be elected to do.

Our current council is not based on proportionality. Our academic membership is larger than general staff membership, but on council we have two academic and two general staff seats. This is to ensure that the interests of both groups are considered and that the needs of general staff are not submerged by the dominance of the larger academic group. The aims of co-governance would be similar.

Ensuring we have broad representation is essential, but it is also important that TEU’s actions, decisions, and policies truly fit our kaupapa and the future for Aotearoa as well as all of those working and learning in tertiary education.