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Last night Chris Hipkins was forced to correct a Parliamentary answer which confirms the Crown was served papers regarding the Waitangi Tribunal partnership school claim (Wai 2770) back in early July, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.

“While it is embarrassing enough that for several months the Crown has failed to seriously consider the Tribunal claim, more questions remain regarding Crown Law’s ‘email error’ and the Government’s disrespectful treatment of the claimants over the last few months.

“Education Minister Chris Hipkins has been denying that a claim has been formally served against the Crown and using this as a reason to avoid responsibility for the matter. This has also caused the Education and Workforce select committee to have an incorrect view of the status of the claim.

“Mr Hipkins repeatedly claimed that ‘the Crown has not yet been formally served with the claim’ when, in fact, a Statement of Claim was served on the Crown by Sir Toby and Dame Iritana via its solicitors, Crown Law, on the 3rd of July.

“The select committee was forced by the Government to deliberate on the Education Amendment Bill during recess, despite repeated requests to extend the timeline. The day after the select committee met and deliberated on the Bill removing partnership schools from law, Crown law discovered their error in not formally recognising the claim.

“The Minister’s ignorance of the Waitangi Tribunal claim calls into question his decisions on this matter since the claim was lodged. Mr Hipkins has shown no leadership on this issue or any care for iwi leaders and other submitters who have genuine concerns about potential treaty breaches.

“The Minister now needs to seriously consider the Tribunal claim and reflect on the appropriateness of proceeding with legislation to remove the partnership school model at this time.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the serious issues of process and fairness surrounding the Government’s termination of partnership schools and their model.

“The Minister should remove provisions relating to partnership schools in the Education Amendment Bill until the Crown has done the decent thing and met with iwi leaders to work through the Waitangi Tribunal claim.

“If the Government continues to push ahead and pass legislation removing the partnership schools model it will be demonstrating its arrogance and further disregard for iwi leader’s concerns.”

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