COVID-19 lockdown an opportunity to plan the future of Māori education

By Jessica Tyson

The chief executive officer of Te Whare Wānanga o Aotearoa Te Ururoa Flavell says the COVID-19 lockdown provides an opportunity to make plans for the bigger picture of Māori education.

“That’s the upside of this in one sense, although the circumstances, that everyone has had the opportunity to open the door up to how we can contribute to the bigger picture of Māori education in the country.”

Māori youth unemployment is expected to rise because of the recession caused by COVID-19 and the different wānanga around the country could be an option for youth.

“I don’t think the potential of wānanga has been really seen as yet. With just the three wānanga we cover a fair chunk of the country, [Te Whare Wānanga o Aotearoa] by sites, Te Wānanga o Raukawa by people that travel from great distances from Kaitāia all the way to Whakatāne to Ōtaki," he says.

“So we know, that in some of our people’s minds, we are a valid and important part of education. People have always found our environment to be safe and to be a place that they can learn in a comfortable environment.”

Flavell says the lockdown has helped him re-imagine the path ahead.

“There’s still challenges ahead but we’re spending a lot of energy getting content online that we didn’t necessarily have before.”

His main focus is on delivering mātauranga Māori to students of his wānanga.

“That’s what they came to us for, that’s what they expect. We’ve got thousands of students throughout the country. They expect us to get the education that they ask for.”