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September 12, 2011 | by  | in News | [ssba]

VSM to face the Waitangi Tribunal

The battle opposing voluntary student membership continues, this time as Māori students’ associations come out against
the bill.

Te Mana Ākonga, the National Māori Tertiary Students’ Association, attempted to lodge a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal, stating that the passage of the VSM Bill has not taken into account Māori interests.

The claim was been made by Te Mana Ākonga on behalf of Māori Students’ Associations, including Victoria University’s Ngai Tauira, and all Māori engaged in tertiary education.
“We have submitted this claim due to the negative impacts this Bill will have on Maori development and advancement. It highlights the prejudicial effects of this Bill against tauira (students) Maori in the tertiary sector and the impacts it has on the overall framework provided by students’ associations which assist in strengthening the support of tauira,” says Te Mana Akonga Tumuaki Jacqualene Poutu.

Te Mana Ākonga claim VSM prejudicially affects Māori students and defies the Treaty of Waitangi. They believe VSM will: diminish the right of Māori at university to form rōpū (a group or association); reduce the right of those rōpū to exercise Tino Rangatiratanga (self-determination); and weaken the right of Māori students to form a national representative entity.

They asked for an urgent hearing with the Tribunal and for it to recommend the Bill be abolished, and that provisions be made to protect Māori at university and their national representation.

They are also appealing to the Tribunal on the grounds that the government did not act in good faith by consulting with Māori students and did not conduct any research into the effects this bill would have on Māori students and their associations.

NZUSA support the claim and agree that research should have been conducted into the effects VSM will have on students.

The disgraceful fact remains that the government has done no analysis or real consideration of what impact this Bill will have on student services, student representation, and the quality of education for students as a whole,” says NZUSA co-President David Do.

The claim was presented to Parliament by Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell last Wednesday. He asked for the entirety of the Bill to be referred to the Tribunal. However, the motion was not supported by the House so will not be referred.

The Waitangi Tribunal was set up in 1975 and is designed to provide redress for actions of the Crown, such as legislation, which breach the Treaty of Waitangi. The Tribunal conducts a series of hearings and makes recommendations to the government who can then decide whether or not to act on them.


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  1. Ted says:

    How dare the government enact legislation protecting the rights of the individual and letting them choose for themselves whether they want to join Student Unions. When will this racist attack on Maoridom end?!

    Don’t they know that being able to determine things for yourself, weakens self determination?

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