Concerns flare up for Māori students at Unitec

By D'Angelo Martin

Irene Farnham (Māori Student Rep) and Aroha WiKohika Dykes (Student President).


Māori students at Unitec fear the decline in Māori leadership at the institution will leave them in an unsafe learning environment.

This comes following the resignation of multiple staff at Unitec in the last two weeks including.

Student president for Unitec, Aroha WiKohia Dykes, says these decisions have an impact on the students and it is they who have to suffer.

"I've got massive concerns and a lot of what informs that is that we're not being included in the conversations so we don't really know what's happening.

Irene Farnham who is a final year student graduating in Social Practise says that the opportunity for a Māori voice at the decision-making table has been silenced.

"For us as students what that means is the specific staff who are Māori who support us on the ground and represent us don't have the support they need and then it ends up becoming a systemic issue." 

"It ends up being that we get the support we need and they get the support that they need, and in the absence of that leadership at a higher level than safety isn't there anymore."

Chair of the Unitec rūnanga, Tui Ah Loo, says, "It feels like we've kind of gone back to a model where Pākehā sits at the top and then everyone else sits beneath."

In addition, education minister Chris Hipkins has stated in a letter to Ah Loo that his expectations of the Education and Training Act 2020 had not been met. 

Dykes says, "Conversations need to be had with all students and all staff as to what it would look like. We had a structure and a model that looked at a partnership approach which catered to everyone, that model works so why aren't we using it?"