Chris Hipkins described as ‘aggressive’ by CEO of He Puna Marama Trust

Chris Hipkins Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Raewyn Tipene is the CEO of He Puna Marama Trust, which operates Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa, a Maori Charter school. In a recent radio interview with Waatea News, she discussed the closure of Charter schools.

She was scathing about how Education Minister Chris Hipkins had treated the Trust and she also was not at all impressed with how non-Maori PPTA members celebrated the demise of Maori Charter schools. She described Hipkins’ behaviour as “aggressive” and “bullying” and said that it reflected badly on Jacinda Ardern who said such nice things about helping Maori at Waitangi.

Tipene also confirmed that Hipkins met with her at Waitangi and that he made her feel that everything was going to be alright. The two Maori Charter schools in Whangarei have the personal support of Maori MPs Associate Minister of Education Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson.

There have been accusations of favouritism and special treatment as Kelvin Davis has worked closely with Tipene’s Trust and she was the only CEO of a Charter school to be granted a meeting with Chris Hipkins. She was shocked when, a short time after their positive meeting, he came out with what she described as a decisive and aggressive press release that in her opinion was not at all conducive to a negotiation conducted in good faith.

You can listen to the radio interview here.

My prediction (and I really hope that I am wrong) is that the Maori Charter schools will be assisted to transition and will be saved because they have the support of Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson. The other Charter schools on the other hand, although they are filled with Maori and Pasifika students, will be forcibly closed because the government will refuse to alter the legislation in order to enable them to keep doing what they are doing.

Credit: SonovaMin

I don’t believe that these schools will transition at any cost. They know that if they are not allowed to keep bulk funding then they will not have the financial flexibility that they need to keep doing the things that are at the very heart of their success. Their management structure and their ability to pay their teachers outside of the award cannot be negotiated away. If they are forced to give them up in order to transition then they will become just another State school and will no longer be able to make a difference.

Their students have already been failed once by a State school. The last thing they need is for their Charter school to transform into one.

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