Te Kōhanga Reo Contingency Fund - Budget 2019

Budget 19 included a $32 million support package for kōhanga reo that will lift wages, including paying voluntary help, updating their ICT capacity.and doing a stock take of their buildings.

Details of the package:

The cost of making urgent improvements to the Trust’s and kōhanga reo ICT capacity and capability ($2.5 million).
The costs associated with the state of some kōhanga reo buildings. The Ministry of Education is working with the Trust to assess kōhanga reo buildings to identify the extent of the issues ($8.5 million).

The most pressing need is staff costs. Minimum wage increases have disproportionately impacted kōhanga reo. Budget 2019 funding will provide a further $21.4 million to:

  • Increase existing pay rates for kaiako and kaimahi (workers) to the Government’s stated 2021 minimum wage rate;
  • Maintain a level of existing relative pay rates for kaiako and kaimahi already above the minimum wage; and
  • Pay kaiako and kaimahi currently working as volunteers in roles that would normally be remunerated.

In 2011 Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal triggered by the publication in 2011 of the report of the Early Childhood Education Taskforce.

The claimants said that the taskforce had not consulted with them, that the report had seriously damaged their reputation, and that the report, and Government policy based on it, would cause irreparable harm to the kōhanga reo movement.

The claimants also raised wide-ranging allegations of Treaty breach concerning the Crown's treatment of kōhanga reo over the past two decades. In particular, they said, the Crown had effectively assimilated the kōhanga reo movement into its early childhood education regime under the Ministry of Education, stifling its vital role in saving and promoting the Māori language and leading to a long decline in the number of Māori children participating in early childhood immersion in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori.

In 2012 the Tribunal found in favour of the claim.

The Crown, through the Ministry of Education and other agencies, has been working through the issues identified by the Tribunal. Late last year parties identified some of the more pressing issues that have been addressed in this year’s Budget.

Talks with Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust are ongoing.

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