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Tertiary Education Minister Penny Simmonds wants to restrict the use of the term ‘wānanga’

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Te Wānanga o Aotearoa kaiwhakatere (chief executive) Nepia Winiata says “wānanga” should be a protected term. Photo / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

By John Gerritsen of RNZ

Tertiary Education Minister Penny Simmonds wants to restrict the use of the term “wānanga”.

Simmonds told RNZ the word should be protected in the same way “university” and “polytechnic” were protected terms.

“What I am very mindful of is the protected status of the terminology is not there. So universities and polytechnics are protected, it’s a protected term. That isn’t the same situation for wānanga. It’s complicated, but I think that’s something that we need to keep working on because it’s important to them and it’s important to me that they have that same protection,” she said.

There are three wānanga — Aotearoa, Awanuiārangi, and Raukawa — offering degrees, diplomas and certificates in a Māori kaupapa.

But other institutions such as Waikato, AUT, Canterbury and Otago universities used the word “wānanga” in their Māori titles.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa kaiwhakatere (chief executive) Nepia Winiata said “wānanga” should be a protected term.

“Wānanga are regarded as the peers of universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education. Therefore, the fact that we have been unable to use the term “university”, but those types of organisations have been able to use the term “wānanga”, has in our view created an inequitable environment, signalling to some that wānanga are less than. Protecting the term “wānanga” is an important way of stressing a different but equal tertiary education institution status,” he said.

“We appreciate that the word wānanga is in common use and therefore, wānanga as a protected term should be narrowly applied to tertiary establishments and facilities only. This is to make sure we don’t capture a more general use of the term ‘wānanga’ in te ao Māori.”

Winiata said wānanga discussed protecting the term when they worked with the previous government this year to change their governanance arrangements.

Simmonds told RNZ the Government would not seek to repeal those changes, which allowed wānanga to choose to become principally accountable to iwi rather than to the Crown.



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