Forty years since the beginning of kohanga reo and just as the government is celebrating the achievements of Kohanga, Kura Kaupapa, Wharekura and kura-a iwi, those driving the kaupapa say an independent Māori Education Authority may be the right next step.
They cited the independent Māori Health Authority being set up, and a Māori transitional service for state care of Māori children on the way as showing the way.
But they also said Māori independence in education seems to be a given.
As of July 1, 2020, there were 22,391 students enrolled in Māori medium education, representing 2.7% of the total school population; a 0.1 percentage point increase on 2019. Of the 22,391 students who were involved in Māori medium, 97.1% identified as Māori.
Today a new Education Review Office research report found Te Kōhanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Māori and Ngā Kura ā Iwi provide models of excellence for Māori education, and offer exemplars for supporting Māori learners to enjoy and achieve education success as Māori, in Māori-medium settings.
Māori Education Minister Kelvin Davis told the launch gathering the report, Te Kura Huanui: The treasures of successful pathways, published in both te reo Māori and English, would be treated as a taonga. The report included links to five short documentaries that "provide rare insight and a deep dive into the common conditions for success in Māori-medium education," he said.
Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti said the report shared the vision of an inclusive education system where every child felt a sense of belonging, "where their identity, language and culture are celebrated, where they are engaged – and making real progress. Educators know we must take a broader view of success, and put children’s wellbeing is at the heart of our efforts,”
Kohanga reo chairman Raniera Proctor said the report provided another layer of evidence to what Māori already knew and believed. He said it was a dream of those before "and it's important for this generation to look forward and progress on the work that has been done."
Kura-ā-iwi director Watson Ohia said all the mihi shared today would be taken back to the many whānau and marae who did the work to raise proud Māori children.
The report sings the praises of the many whānau, hapu, iwi, kura and kohanga who have contributed to the success: "This study clearly shows Māori-medium education provides nurturing learning environments with excellent outcomes for Māori learners. It highlights the resourcefulness and determination of early founders, which remains a constant through the communities of leaders, tumuaki, kaiako, whānau, hapū and iwi who uplift and support Māori-medium sites throughout Aotearoa today."
But this is nothing new for the drivers of the kaupapa.
Te Runanga nui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori chair Cathey Dewes says it's about time this information was circulated publically.
Dewes said Kura Kaupapa Māori is determined in its resolve to work toward Māori self-determination in education.