Waikato Uni axes successful Maori briding course, breaks committment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi

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A Waikato University course that helps Maori into tertiary education has been scrapped, placing the jobs of four staff in jeopardy. Deputy vice chancellor Professor Doug Sutton announced on Thursday that the Te Timatanga Hou (TTH) bridging programme would not be offered next year or in the “foreseeable future”.

The programme has an impressive reputation and has been mirrored right around the country. TTH director Linda Ward said her staff were struggling with the fact that they might not have a job after Christmas.

But they were also “grieving for the loss of an ideal”.

TTH is a concept, an idea, that looks like it’s just coming to an end,” she said. “I keep wondering `do they really understand what they are throwing away. The staff are upset, not for themselves, but for what the programme is.”

A lot of Maori students “needed” the bridging programme to make the transition to university life, she said.

The Tertiary Education Union branch president Paul Harris said the branch is very disappointed at the universitys proposal.

It is the only Maori specific bridging programme on offer at Waikato, and appears to be at odds with the universitys supposed commitment to Tiriti o Waitangi principles.

TTHCProfessor Sutton said the programme had to be cut to keep the university’s domestic student numbers in line with Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) targets.

The university had already exceeded its ministry-funded student numbers by more than 5 per cent this year, he said. Domestic applications to enrol at Waikato University next year were already up about 30 per cent on the same time last year, yet the commission had made little funding provision for that growth. Professor Sutton said cutting the programme was a “difficult decision”, particularly since Waikato University had the highest percentage of Maori students of any university. “But at the moment we don’t have any other options.”

He was in consultation with the affected staff. It was not yet clear if they would be made redundant or repositioned elsewhere in the university. He said Maori students could still have the chance to prepare for university study through an agreement signed with Wintec. From TangataWhenua.com’s experience (i.e. ex-Waikato staff members of the School of Maori and Pacific Development, whose contracts were not extended during the first restructuring (aka redundancies) that took place in 2005) the future does not look bright for Maori staff from TTH.

Waikato University has slowly been dismantling the School of Maori and Pacific Development (which TTH was apart of) and looking at shifting it from it’s own school (SMPD) to one which sits under the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). Earlier in the year, the programme lost their wonderful premises in which they were housed since their inception to Asian students.

It was hoped that Wintec might take over the programme but they have opted to instead run most of the university’s pre-degree Certificate of University Preparation (CUPs) programmes of which 42 per cent of students this year are Maori or Pacific Islanders. Wintec would have places for 150 equivalent fulltime students (EFTS) on top of the university’s offering of 40 EFTS. This year the university had 200 EFTS CUP positions. A critical issue with these programmes are that they are not geared towards teaching Maori, they are a mainstream course which Maori attend. Tikanga, whanaungatanga and manaakitanga are not values that are integral to vision of these programmes.

Wintec would contract university staff to deliver the Certificate of Preparation programme at the university’s Hamilton campus.

Professor Sutton was saddened that funding cuts had forced the difficult decisions. He said a large number of potential students would have to be turned away from tertiary study next year for want of sufficient places.

That would have an adverse effect on the whole country and in particular Maori communities.

Tertiary education increases personal income, increases family well being and adds quality of life. So one would expect those to be reversed.”

What was unique about this programme is that it embraced Te Ao Maori, its students were givin the kind of support they needed to excel and succeed. Potaua Biasiny-Tule, Managing Director of TangataWhenua.com was one such graduate and believes without the course he may not have been able to go on to graduate with a BA and begin his Masters of Social Science degree.

Are you a graduate of TTH? Do you have stories or photos, share them with us. What are your thoughts on the closure of such an important and vital programme?

Kia ora to the Waikato Times for some of the above content.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I am saddend that Waikato loses this programme because of economic decisions. However, my first year at Te Wananga O Raukawa doing the teaching programme has been a true success because of the learned environment and support available from the WHOLE CAMPUS. If Waikato wont cater for you then come to TWOR.

  2. Preparing Maori to enter university studies is an ongoing issue that requires our attention. Is TTH a late intervetion? Should we be looking at earlier stages for input such as high school, intermediate, primary etc. The adaptation of maori students to ‘university life’ is not as much an issue, we are already proficient at adaptation. What role do we see for Te Wananga with regard to university preparation? Job loss for TTH staff is an issue but this should not be used as leverage to maitain a programme that may not meet the need for which it was first instigated.
    Kia ora ano

  3. Thanks for posting this Nkolasa and Potaua. I have filed it to my own fb link. This is concerning. Isn't Dr Aroha Yeates an ole girl of TTH? I wish I had gone there before doing law as I am learning now while doing a Bachelor in Matauranga Maori TWORaukawa that learning in a Maori environment sure suits my character. Excellency in learning outcomes!

  4. I did TTH in 1997 as I knew I wouldn't get straight into University having no secondary education, and it was an awesome course, I graduated and was accepted into TTP, after doing TTP I went to the school of Ed and did ECE. I now am running my own centre here in the Bay of Plenty. All thanks to TTH.

  5. Aww I remembered this programme. I didnt use it but HEAPS of the cuzzies, aunties and uncles went through it – theyre all now Principals, Teachers, and one even became a Museum Curator! Ka aroha!

  6. A few inaccuracies in here. SMPD is not being dismantled. TTP is still going strong. UOW is the only university that has a formal relationship at the governance level with 16 central north island iwi.- Te Ropu Maunukura sits with the University Chancellor, vice Chancellor & University council. it celelbrated Kingitanga day this year – a whole day, … Read Morecampus wide, no classes – that wouldn't happen at any other uni. All due to the efforts of the Pro Vice Chancellor Maori office ENSURING the commitment is realised and practised. I don't support this decision, but if it wasn't for PVCM, UOW would be just like all the others.

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