Education major issue for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti voters

By Maiki Sherman

Education is the major issue for the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti electorate, the tribal area of the Education Minister.

Results of a Māori Television poll clearly show that this and family violence are the most important issues they want addressed.  Many have also decided which party is most likely to rise to the challenge.

If the election was held tomorrow, Labour would win the party vote in Te Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.

45% want Labour in Government.

There's a narrow gap between the Māori Party and Internet-MANA.

Both National and NZ First are on 10%, with the Greens on 8%, while the Conservatives, ACT and United Future did not rate.

According to Māori Television's poll results, 95% believe the most important issue in the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti electorate is education.

The students of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Māngātuna, in a small community north of Tolaga Bay, are growing a vege garden and certainly the same growth has been seen at the school.

However, there are still children on the waiting list, but the Ministry of Education says it's not possible to increase the intake.  What's more, despite currently having 53 students, the school only receives funding for 36.  

Tania Hunter says they don't want to send their children to another school or area.  Really, what they want is for the Ministry to give them the authority to build a new school at a new location where they will have the capacity to fit more students.

Funding is also an issue for Te Kōhanga Reo o Ngā Whānau Whānui in Tolaga Bay, and despite the benefit of 20 hours free ECE, that too has its difficulties.  

Ngoi Pewhairangi says although kōhanga is one of the oldest Māori education institutes, it's still at the starting blocks.

So, what policies are the political parties offering to help Māori education excel?

Labour will increase the number of teachers, while decreasing the number of students per classroom.

They'll also scrap National Standards and Charter Schools.  

National will introduce a bonus incentive for teachers who excel, build nine new schools in Auckland and increase funding for ECEs.

The Māori Party will increase the number of free ECE hours from 20 to 30.  It will also seek 10 hours free after-school care for primary-aged children, and provide scholarships for the first person in a family to pursue a bachelor qualification.          

The Green Party will increase operational grants for schools, while increasing funding for Māori language programmes.  It will also scrap National Standards and Charter Schools.

NZ First will focus on kōhanga reo, increase the number of teen parent units and scrap National Standards and Charter Schools.

Internet-MANA will increase the number of kōhanga and total immersion Māori schools, introduce free tertiary education and make the Māori language compulsory in schools.

So the voters in this part of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti say they have the ideas to ensure the children succeed, what they need is for politicians to listen.