Question nine December 6th: Partnership schools and Te Reo Maori

Parliament: Questions and Answers – Dec 6

9. Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) to the Associate Minister of Education: What plans does he have to strengthen the capability of the education system to respond to the identity, language, and culture of children and young people to raise educational achievement, and how does he plan to lead work to grow the quality and quantity of Te Reo Māori in the education system?

She didn’t say the words Partnership schools but you just know that Partnership schools are what she is alluding to.

Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Associate Minister of Education): To answer the second part of the question first, I will lead this work from the front. To answer the first part of her question, I’m very keen, now that I have had my delegations confirmed, to hear from Māori as to what they want and to work with teachers to determine what they need, because we all have a shared goal of raising educational achievement, both in our official Te Reo Māori language and through the use of the official Te Reo Māori language.

In other words, he is buying time to come up with an answer using his leader’s strategy of needing a conversation with stakeholders first.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Given that Te Kāpehu Whetū and Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Teranga Parāoa are both providing bilingual education services that if closed would decrease the number of young people learning Te Reo, will he resign if these two Whangarei partnership schools close?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: The Minister of Education has actually said that he’ll be working with each of the kura hourua to sort out their situation, and we don’t expect any of them to actually close.

“We don’t expect” is not a clear answer and he has avoided answering the question about his resignation.

Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a very simple question, which—

Mr SPEAKER: No, no. The member will resume her seat. It wasn’t a simple question. She started it with a given, and that was something that the Minister addressed—the given. If the member has two parts to her question or a phrase that starts it and the Minister answers the phrase rather than the bit she wants, then it is her fault.

Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Look, I think a number of members in this House have raised that this is a bit of a change in the way that the Speakers have managed Parliament. In not allowing this statement at the beginning of the question, I would asked him to—

Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume her seat. It is a longstanding practice of this House that members do not start with an assertion. Again, I was probably kind to the member in allowing the question to be asked, but what I’m trying to do is stand back a little bit, and if the Minister takes advantage of a poorly worded question to give an answer that the member is not happy with, then that is the member’s responsibility.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Will he resign if these two Whangarei partnership schools, which are providing bilingual education, close?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Really, I just need to repeat what I’ve just said: that the Minister of Education will work with each of these schools and we don’t expect that they will close. We’ll just see over the coming months how it all pans out.

So that’s a no then. He won’t resign if the schools are closed.

Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Speaker’s Rulings 177/3, which says, “where a question is clear, I think New Zealanders expect Ministers to answer”—

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, and plenty of Speakers’ rulings have said—we’ve actually changed, because a hypothetical question can be asked, but there’s no requirement to answer it.

I don’t think it was a hypothetical question. Kelvin Davis stated quite clearly during the election campaign that he would resign if they were closed.

Rino Tirikatene: What other reports has he seen on the importance of ensuring identity, language, and culture as part of our education system?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Kia ora, what a fantastic question. I’ve seen evidence of what happens when identity, language, and culture is not part of someone’s education. Some people tend to see the language as pointless, complain about being forced to listen to 10 Māori words on Radio New Zealand every morning, and want to limit the use of Te Reo to Māori language – only broadcasters. And by people, I mean Don Brash, former leader of the National Party. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Nikki Kaye. [Interruption] Order! I have called Nikki Kaye. I think that if I took questions off for every person who interjected after I called Nikki Kaye, the National Party would have none and New Zealand First would have none for the rest of the week.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Does he think it’s acceptable for 50 young Māori enrolled at the Te Rangihakahaka partnership school to be in a situation where they don’t know if their school is opening next year, and will he step up and advocate to the Minister of Education to sort this mess out?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Those students aren’t in the situation that she describes.

David Seymour: Does the Minister understand that a third partnership school / kura hourua also resides in his electorate—that being Vanguard Military School—and does he treat it the same as the two in Whangarei?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Partnership schools aren’t actually a part of my delegation, so I have no responsibility to answer your question.

Yet he was happy enough to talk about overtly Maori partnership schools. What a convenient way to avoid answering a simple question that would reveal his bias.

 


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