University and Ngai Tahu re-sign memorandum

Sir Mark Solomon
Sir Mark Solomon
University of Otago and Ngai Tahu leaders spoke yesterday of the relationship between the tertiary provider and the iwi resulting in a Maori education renaissance.

The iwi and tertiary institution re-signed the Memorandum of Understanding, which acknowledged the relationship between both parties, at a ceremony in the university council chambers.

A signatory of the memorandum, Ngai Tahu kaiwhakahaere Sir Mark Solomon, said the memorandum, which was first signed in 2001, was a ''big thing for us''.

''It is one thing Ngai Tahu has struggled with for a long time was a good working relationship with all the tertiary institutions, and we have set up a joint venture to facilitate the entry of Maori into tertiary [education] and, in my view, it has been very successfully, particularly [at Otago University]''.

However, this success did not come without criticism.

Sir Mark said he went to see a surgeon three years ago for a knee operation and was told it was ''absolutely disgusting that Maori get into medical school and pass with less than a qualification''.

''I said 'I am not going to argue with you today, because you are operating on me tomorrow, but I will come back and make you eat your words'.

''I went back and said 'do you seriously believe a university like Otago would graduate people if they hadn't passed their qualification?' ''

Sir Mark said there was no doubt relationships such as that between Otago and Ngai Tahu had helped to create a ''Maori education renaissance'' and this could only benefit New Zealand.

More than 100 people who attended the signing yesterday heard of some of those recent success stories, which included research, scholarship opportunities, and enhanced relationships with local runanga.

University of Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said the memorandum was a ''living document and aspiration between the university and Ngai Tahu''.

University figures showed the number of research projects in association with Maori, the number of Maori as a percentage of total domestic students, pass rates for first-year Maori students, and Maori students completing qualifications had all increased markedly between 2008 and 2012.


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