Tina Smith on the Rules Review.

Transforming Aotearoa means transforming ourselves as well.

For TEU, part of this journey is to revise our rules and to think about how we can better play our individual and collective roles in advancing Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

This journey began even before the existence of TEU, as both ASTE and AUS constitutionally recognised Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Since then, work has been ongoing including a Tiriti audit by Dr Moana Jackson in 2015, the development of a Tiriti relationship framework, and the adoption of Te Koeke Tiriti.

Our rules review is a transformational exercise about creating our own tikanga for how we hui, mahi together, and act. How we ensure that core values, like fighting for decent work, and recognising the impacts of colonization on education, health, mahi, and incomes is woven into all that we do.

We see time and time again how Māori workers are paid less than their Pākehā counterparts. We know that there are too few Māori who are professors in our sector. There is no doubt that patterns of employment and unemployment during COVID-19 are uneven due to the crowding of Māori workers into seasonal work or precarious jobs.

A modern union wants all workers to have mahi tūturu | decent jobs but a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi means we need to look at the ways patterns of racism and colonisation land inequitably on Māori and on other members, such as those of Pasifika decent and women.

If TEU is to be truly Te Tiriti led, then we need members to better understand the articles of Te Tiriti, including the crucial right of Māori to hold tino rangatiratanga. For a union it probably best equates to ensuring everyone has a place in decision-making and co-governance (Māori and Pākehā sitting across the table from each other, equals in all conversations and decision-making).

So how then does this apply to our union, to our rules and ways of operating?

The final decision will be that of members, but those involved in the dozens of conversations and hui so far have suggested that there could be Co-Presidents nationally and locally, and even a Council (the national governing body) which is 50:50.

Let us know what you think by emailing tina.smith@teu.ac.nz

Mana Tiriti (tō tātou uniana, tō tātou hakakitenga) must be the foundation of TEU’s new rules. More than that Mana Tiriti must be a daily practice in a modern trade union that is about transforming Aotearoa.

If you want to engage more in this conversation, your branch committee can ask for a workshop to be run on-campus or online about the rules review and all Te Tiriti o Waitangi ought to mean to us.

We also encourage anyone wanting to join the broader movement to ensure we move forward actively honouring Te Tiriti to register for the free Tiriti Based Futures conference running from 19 to 28 March.