Embracing opportunities for education reform: By the region, for the region

21 January 2020

A coalition of Māori entities, industry, education providers, Pasifika representatives and other stakeholders are developing plans that will see Te Tai Tokerau better served in education and training.

Acting chairman Pita Tipene said the government’s Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) provided the opportunity for the Tai Tokerau Regional Investment Plan (TRIP) group to work with other established groups, and use the planned changes to work on the region’s priorities.

“We commend the government for recognising that there needs to be some fundamental change in how we identify what is needed to make our region prosper, and from there provide strong planning and effective implementation,” Mr Tipene said. “We need to have a collaborative approach to how Tai Tokerau embraces and uses these changes.”

The 12 members of the TRIP leadership group submitted a plan to the Tertiary Education Commission, which had a clear purpose of identifying demand for learning, and barriers to learning, he added. In February 2018 the TEC released a Focus Area Brief for Tai Tokerau that requested a combined single investment plan for tertiary education in Northland, focused on the needs of ha¯pori (communities) and a¯konga (learners).

NorthTec, with Phil Alexander Crawford, one of its directors, as project sponsor, was tasked with achieving that within six months, so the initial and first regional investment plan was focused on He Whenua (primary and environmental industries). A kaupapa Māori methodology was used alongside a project management framework to ensure the plan’s cultural credibility and Māori focus, and to provide structure and a process that would enable the model to be implemented in other regions as well.

In a letter to NorthTec in October 2018, following the development of the regional investment plan, TEC stated that the TRIP would “act as an anchor for wider Tai Tokerau tertiary education and careers-related work in the region, and for the TEC. We also consider that the TRIP will be a key enabler in achieving educational success for people in Tai Tokerau, particularly Māori.”

"We consider this process can provide a framework for other regions throughout the country to develop a regional planning approach to tertiary education,” added TEC deputy chief executive delivery, Gillian Dudgeon, and deputy chief executive oritetanga — learner success, Paora Ammunson.

TRIP group member Wayne Jackson, acting chief executive of NorthTec/Tai Tokerau Wānanga, noted the challenges and opportunities for Northland. “We are all committed to helping Northlanders to achieve better lives through education.

“The lessons we have learnt from this can be brought to the table when Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs) are established under a new initiative from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment,” he said.

“By working with other key groups, we can all contribute to building a strong collaborative response and action plan.” Mr Tipene noted that the new policy suggested a great deal of change, and even those in the midst of the reforms could be confused.

A hui-a-iwi last week had been an opportunity to ko¯rero, share, inform and plan the way forward.

“There are some strong stakeholders already committed to this kaupapa, including Te Puni Kokiri and the Ministry of Social Development, and we look forward to working with them on what we can do in years to come,” Mr Tipene said