Proposed changes to Māori faculty spark protest at Waikato Uni

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Over 100 protesters gathered outside the University of Waikato to oppose proposed changes that would see the University's Faculty of Māori and Indigenous studies lose its status and be placed under the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.  Students say it's a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

Many students are angry at the lack of consultation for the proposed restructuring of the faculty. 

A University of Waikato student told Te Kāea, "In the University of Waikato's advertisement they say they are in partnership with Māori.  They are not and it's evident today. 
There was supposed to be a three-year plan for the amalgamation."

Another student said that a lot of the complaints are arising from the disregard of the principles of the Treaty.

But Vice-Chancellor Neil Quigley says consultation for the proposed changes has been fair. 

He told Te Kāea, "The idea was first raised with the academic board in February.  Everyone is represented on the academic board and then to the deans where we talked for about six weeks before putting out the proposal to the rest of the university for comment."

But the students disagree. '

"This is where we feel safe, this is where we can be Māori.  Without that, we will lose an environment that is conducive and will help Māori students prosper at university."

Professor Quingley says the changes will streamline administration and won't affect funding for the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies.

"It's the standard process that universities in New Zealand use and we're considering adopting it as well," says Quingley.

Students met with the University of Waikato representatives today to present a petition in an effort to stop the proposal.

The University will make a decision by early September.