Tue 26 Sep 2017

WITT, Iwi establish partnership

WITT has formalised a partnership with two Taranaki iwi to better support Māori learners.

A memorandum of understanding was formally signed at Te Piere, on WITT's New Plymouth campus, between the polytech and two of the eight Taranaki iwi – Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa and Te Kāhui o Taranaki.

 The agreement recognises the importance of the iwi, their hapū and marae to the region and as major stakeholders in education outcomes.

It aims to assist Te Atiawa and Taranaki iwi achieve their educational aspirations by providing an environment in which learners will have access to successful outcomes in their chosen fields.

Te Atiawa chief executive Hemi Sundgren said the agreement provides an opportunity to influence and support the success of Māori learners. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement and part of Te Atiawa’s broader education strategy.

“It is also something we acknowledge we cannot achieve on our own” he said. “[WITT CEO] Barbara George has wanted to formalise our arrangement for a while, and the time was right.’’

Wharehoka Wano, who signed the memorandum of understanding agreement on behalf of Te Kāhui o Taranaki, also welcome the new agreement.

“Te Kāhui o Taranaki is also looking at ways to leverage and support our Māori learners where ever they may be so these relationships with educational institutions like WITT are important,’ he said.

 WITT had challenged itself to improve the success rate for Māori learners, and this agreement was a step in that process which also guaranteed regular and robust discussions between WITT and iwi, Barbara George said.

“I am delighted we have reached an agreement which puts us on the same page with two of the eight Taranaki iwi – and I hope we can also reach similar agreements with other iwi,’’ she said.

We will be cooperating and working with a shared purpose, and that can only be a good thing.’’

She also saw the memorandum as a welcome vote of confidence in WITT and believed it would result in greater participation and success for Māori learners. It will also see WITT and iwi look at student funding strategies to reduce barriers to participation and achievement, scholarships and research projects.

The agreement also aligns to the January 2010 Strategic Plan for Taranaki Māori Education report which says that by 2020 Taranaki Māori should be fully engaged with tertiary education as a vehicle for self-determined community development.