The Education and Training Act 2020: Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The Education and Training Act 2020 aims to give all learners a high-quality, culturally responsive, seamless and inclusive education, from early learning, through schooling, and into tertiary education, vocational training and employment.

What is the Education and Training Act?

The Act is the biggest rewrite of education legislation in decades. Much of its content gives effect to the Government’s plans to transform the education system, following the Kōrero Mātauranga | Education Conversation and the Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce report.

The Act incorporates and replaces the Education Acts of 1964 and 1989, and also incorporates the Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act 2019 and the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act 2020.

How does the Act apply the Māori-Crown partnership under Te Tiriti o Waitangi?

Statement of expectations

To address education agencies’ obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, section 6 of the Act allows 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 the public service objectives expectations that relate to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

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

School boards to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The Act provides, in section 127, that one of the primary objectives for Boards is to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi by:

  • working to ensure their plans, policies and local curriculum reflect local tikanga Māori, mātauranga Māori and te ao Māori
  • taking all reasonable steps to make instruction available in tikanga Māori and te reo Māori and
  • achieving equitable outcomes for Māori students.

The new Tiriti board objective provision commences on 1 January 2021, so that boards have time to understand and prepare for the changes they need to make to their school to give effect to the new objective.

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, Te Aho Ngārahu and the Education Workforce Scholarship(external link) programme.

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

Supports and tools to help with this include:

New complaint and disputes resolution panels

The Act enables the establishment of new local complaint and dispute panels to hear serious disputes where these cannot be resolved at the school level. Panels will be accessible, free, flexible, and membership will reflect local school communities.  The provisions are located in sections 216 to 236 of the Act.

The panels will have mediation, recommendation and decision-making functions, and will hear disputes relating to:

  • rights to education (including enrolment and attendance)
  • stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions
  • learning support, racism and other types of discrimination
  • physical and emotional safety and
  • physical restraint of a student by a teacher or other authorised employee.

What’s next

The date for establishing panels has not yet been set. The panels will be established by regulations, which will also provide additional detail about panel processes and procedures. The Ministry will consult publicly as these regulations are developed. The Ministry will also prepare material, such as guidance and communications material, to provide additional information to principals, boards, students and their whānau.

New Te Tiriti section

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 sets out the key Te Tiriti-related provisions in section 9.

When do these changes take effect?

Statement of expectations

August 2020.

Boards to give effect to Te Tiriti

1 January 2021.

Complaints and disputes resolution panels

New regulations need to be developed to provide the detail for how the panels will work before they can be established. The Ministry will consult publicly on the content for these regulations.

New Te Tiriti section

August 2020.

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