Labour and union want stop to Maori job cuts

  • 16/03/2016

Labour has backed union calls for universities to stop cutting out Maori roles - but the Government says it's up to schools to decide how they hire staff.

A study from the Tertiary Education Union has found the replacement of specialised Maori roles in universities, or whitestreaming, is widespread at all eight of the country's universities, 13 of the 18 polytechnics and even one wananga.

The survey of about 250 union member staff found 41 percent said whitestreaming was happening in their workplace and nearly 20 percent had their focus changed from solely Maori to all students.

Academic staff with permanent, full-time contracts were the hardest hit, making up 82 per cent of those affected, the study's authors said.

Labour's Maori education spokesperson Adrian Rurawhe today joined the union in calling for an end to whitestreaming.

"It beggars belief that our tertiary institutions are doing this when they are well aware of the need for better educational outcomes for Maori and increase the number getting post school qualifications," she said.

"Many universities and polytechnics have support officers for international students. Why wouldn't you give Maori at least the same level of support?

Of those who had experienced the shift, 93.33 percent said it had happened since 2008 when changes to funding processes were made.

TEU national president Sandra Grey earlier called for the government to restore equity funding.

But Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said it was up to universities to make their own staffing decisions and outcomes had been good for students since 2008.

"There has been a 60 percent increase in Maori completing bachelors degrees. Overall there has been a 50 percent increase in Maori gaining tertiary qualifications," he said.

"The evidence is that providers are improving outcomes for Maori learners at a greater rate than in the past. That is what is important."

The report will officially be launched in Gisborne on Saturday.