PPTA Te Wehengarua sets up Māori vice president role

By Te Ao - Māori News

 PPTA Te Wehengarua president Melanie Webber (left) and Te Huarahi Māori Motuhake's Shona West. Photo/supplied

The secondary teachers’ union, PPTA Te Wehengarua, has created a new role of Māori vice president on its national executive.

The decision –believed to be the first of its kind for teacher unions in Aotearoa New Zealand – was made by delegates at PPTA’s annual general meeting this week.  The AGM was held on Zoom and replaced PPTA’s annual conference due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Shona West, (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu), a member of Te Huarahi Māori Motuhake, PPTA Te Wehengarua’s national Māori body, says a Māori vice president is essential to integrate a Tiriti o Waitangi perspective into the organisation in a visible and meaningful manner.

“PPTA Te Wehengarua has never shied away from its bicultural commitments, it is a bicultural beast to be reckoned with and this new role will further champion the good that PPTA Te Wehengarua does for Māori teachers and our students.”

It was vital for the association to have a Māori vice president, particularly when talking to the government, who could articulate, in both languages, issues that affect Māori secondary teachers and students, West said. 

 PPTA Te Wehengarua president Melanie Webber said the decision to create the new role was truly historic. “It deepens and strengthens our Te Tiriti partnership and commitment; this new role is tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty) in action.”

The timing of the election process for the Māori vice president will be consulted on among the PPTA membership, and the new role is expected to take effect early next year.