Government failure to listen destroys Māori vocational training

June 21, 2019

On the eve of a Cabinet paper recommending radical and controversial changes to the polytech and on-the-job training sector, leaders representing the sector have accused the government of “thumbing its nose” at the interests of over a hundred thousand trainees currently undergoing on-the-job industry training.

“It’s an insult to those workers and especially to the government’s Treaty Partner, making a mockery of the much touted ‘special relationship’ the Labour Party has with Māori,” said Skills Active Chair Sam Napia.

“We’ve met with the Minister of Education and the Associate Education Minister, Labour’s Deputy Leader Hon Kelvin Davis. We’ve had discussions with representatives of Labour’s Māori Caucus and cannot tell whether their Deputy Leader has even engaged with them on this issue.

“The Minister waxes lyrical about ‘co-design’ and how much this government is doing for Māori but when faced with a genuine proposal to sit down and talk about co-design in the vocational training sector he won’t even engage.

“This is an insult to the government’s Treaty partner and is the last thing we expected from the highest ranked Māori leader in the Labour Party,” Mr Napia said.

“What I would like to ask Minister Davis is this – did you even read the paper that was put to you last week by Māori representing on-the-job trainees, and did you give the proposal even one minute of thought before you passed the buck to Minister Hipkins?

“That carefully crafted proposal leaned heavily on Minister Davis’s own comments about partnership, co-design and lifting the prospects of Māori in the education system, but there is not one bit of evidence that he has even bothered to read it,” Mr Napia said.

“So I am asking the Prime Minister to ask that question of him in Cabinet next week, and to ask him to explain what the proposal was that would protect the interests of Māori learners in the vocational education system.

“I am writing today to the Prime Minister to ask her to hold to account her Deputy on this incredibly important issue of the prospects of 147,000 on-the-job trainees, many of whom are Māori who are achieving better results than non-Māori in the current system.

“I predict that within three years Kelvin Davis will be hanging his head in shame at his lack of action in the face of destruction of Māori vocational training that has taken place under his watch as Associate Education Minister and Minister of Crown-Māori relations.  In our view, his lack of interest has removed his right to carry those titles,” Mr Napia said.


Media contact

Sam Napia

027 479 0511

About Skills Active

Skills Active Aotearoa is the industry training organisation for recreation, exercise, sport and performing arts. We are a non-profit organisation, 50% owned by Māori shareholders, and funded by government to promote careers and workforce development in our industries, work with those industries to create world-class qualifications, and support workplaces to train staff.