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The Government must listen to Māori leaders who have lodged a Treaty of Waitangi claim alleging that the Government’s axing of partnership schools will have a detrimental effect on Māori, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye and Māori Education spokesperson Jo Hayes say.

“Partnership schools have a proven track record of helping vulnerable young people, many of whom are Māori, to succeed in education,” Ms Kaye says.

“Yet the Government’s Education Amendment Bill includes provisions that will scrap the partnership school model, with no regard for where it leaves the students and their families.

“Now in light of the Treaty claim, the Government should remove the provisions from the Bill and let partnership schools get on with educating our vulnerable young people.

“Education Minister Chris Hipkins has continued to show contempt for these schools throughout the process. He has already terminated 10 out of 11 partnership schools, most of which are in a state of limbo about whether they can open next year under another model.”

Ms Hayes says Labour’s Māori MPs are letting young Māori down by not fighting for the schools.

“Kelvin Davis once threatened to resign if the partnership schools in his electorate were closed by his Government, but since becoming a Minister he has ducked out,” she says.

“These schools currently cater to about 800 young Māori who have no certainty about their future. The schools have been run by iwi and have had some superb results for our kids.

"National stands strong in supporting these schools and their students, and we back Māori leaders in their fight for the schools.”

Ms Kaye says that regardless of Labour’s ideological opposition to partnership schools, the process to terminate them has been flawed at every level.

“The Treaty claim is just the latest development in people fighting for what’s right for our kids. Sir Toby Curtis and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi are highly respected Māori leaders who have said the Government has ridden roughshod over the futures of young Māori.

“It’s time for the Government to pay attention and leave these schools alone.”

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