Education and Training Act 2020: Giving better effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi at the national level

Te Tiriti o Waitangi clause in the Education and Training Act

As a partner to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Crown has a duty to actively promote and protect Tiriti rights and to develop education settings in a way that reflects Māori-Crown relationships.

The Education and Training Act includes a new section that sets out the key Te Tiriti o Waitangi-related provisions in one place. Section 9 identifies and increases the accessibility of the key provisions in the Act that recognise and respect the Crown’s responsibility to give effect to Te Tiriti.

Statement of expectations

To address education agencies’ obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, section 6 of the Act enables the Ministers of Education and Māori-Crown relations: Te Arawhiti, after consultation with Māori, to issue a statement specifying what education agencies must do to give effect to public service objectives that relate to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The intention of the statement is to provide greater specificity around what those agencies must do to be Te Tiriti o Waitangi compliant.

School boards to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi

In line with with Tomorrow School's recommendations, section 127 of the Act refocuses boards on a wider range of objectives, with educational achievement sitting alongside three other objectives. One of the objectives is for the board to ensure that:

  • the school gives effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi by:
    • working to ensure that its plans, policies, and local curriculum reflect local tikanga Māori, mātauranga Māori and te ao Māori
    • taking all reasonable steps to make instruction available in te reo Māori and tikanga Māori; and
    • achieving equitable outcomes for Māori students.

The new objective relating to Te Tiriti o Waitangi:

  • emphasises the importance of local history and practices;
  • challenges boards to improve the teaching of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori;
  • contributes to meeting the Crown’s duty to actively protect tino rangatiratanga rights; and
  • makes a significant contribution to achieving the Crown’s Strategy for Māori Language Revitalisation 2018 – 2023 – Maihi Karauna.

What support will schools get to help them give effect to Te Tiriti?

The Government is taking practical steps to support the growth of te reo Māori capability in the education workforce through initiatives such as Te Ahu o te Reo Māori. This will help schools provide te reo Māori lessons. 

Ministry staff will be able to provide boards with advice on how they can initiate conversations with their local communities to ensure their plans, policies and local curriculum reflect local tikanga Māori, mātauranga Māori and te ao Māori.

When do the objectives come into force?

The revised objectives for student educational achievement, physically and emotionally safety and inclusivity took effect upon enactment and are in force now. The objective relating to Te Tiriti o Waitangi will come into force on 1 January 2021. This will provide schools with more time to become familiar with the changes required under this objective and prepare to give effect to them.

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