15 September 2005
Keith Ikin, Director of the School of Sustainable Business Management at Te Wânanga o Aotearoa is urging politicians not
to jump to conclusions about the future of the troubled Wânanga.
“Both the Wânanga and tertiary education as a whole present complex issues that cannot be resolved through soundbites
and partisan bickering,” says Ikin.
The business school director is adamant that a political campaign is not the right environment in which to determine the
future of an organisation that has contributed so much to improving educational outcomes for students in Aotearoa.
“According to the Ministry of Education,” says Ikin, “Te Wânanga has had a significant impact on Mâori participation in
tertiary education, with numbers of Mâori students participating in tertiary education doubling from 1999 to last year.”
Ikin continues: “Te Wânanga o Aotearoa has earned praise from the Ministry of Education for its retention rates, with
the Ministry stating that in 2001 the Wânanga had the highest rate of progression to diploma-level study and the highest
rate of progression from diplomas to degrees".
“We simply cannot afford to ignore the positive contribution of this institution to the educational landscape,” says
Ikin. The Director of Te Wananga o Aotearoa’s business school points to figures showing the participation of Mâori
students in tertiary education is at 20%, compared with a participation rate for the rest of New Zealand’s population at
“Government’s own figures show that much of this improvement can be attributed to the Wânanga,” says Ikin. “I’m saying
that in an environment where we must improve basic adult literacy, where we must lift educational achievement to compete
in the new global economy, it makes no sense to decide to get rid of an institution like the Wânanga that is making such
Ikin points to the accomplishments of his own School of Sustainable Business Management. Its flagship programme, the
Certificate in Small Business Management (CSBM), has alone resulted in over 1,000 business start-ups since 2003.
It’s an accomplishment that Ikin is proud of, particularly in light of the students enrolled at the School. “Less than 5
per cent of the School’s students in 2003 and 2004 came directly from secondary school,” says Ikin. “Most of the
students enrolled in our Certificate in Small Business Management are either unemployed or are workers on low-income
wages. These are students that get left behind by traditional institutions.”
“It’s vital that we stay away from dangerous rhetoric and concentrate instead on careful policy for the benefit of all.
I don’t want to see Te Wânanga dragged through political mud for the benefit of politicians. Quality education is too
important for that.”