INDEPENDENT NEWS

MP Refuses To Be Bullied By Education Minister

Published: Thu 13 Apr 2000 03:25 PM
ACT MP and reading expert Donna Awatere Huata today said she was saddened and disappointed by Education Minister Trevor Mallard’s attempts to bully her off a Select Committee Inquiry into reading that she is credited with establishing.
Mrs Huata has campaigned for over 30 years to improve the teaching of reading and the reading ability of New Zealand children, particularly those from poor areas. She began her work with the children of South Auckland in the early 1970’s founding the four minute reading programme which had exceptional success in homes with parents learning how to teach their children to read.
That programme has now been adopted by the PIPI Foundation and is running in the Hawkes Bay and West Auckland giving a second chance to children who reading recovery failed to help.
Donna Awatere Huata today said the Minister was attacking her for helping the PIPI Foundation to get the four minute reading programme up and running to give hope to the children of Hawkes Bay and West Auckland who had been given up on. “As a Maori Education expert and as an MP it is most certainly my duty to make representations on behalf of constituent groups who are making outstanding contributions to the education of children.
“My interest is in giving children the chance they deserve to read. If Mr Mallard sees that as a conflict of interest for an Education Spokesman then he’s in the wrong job. If the Minister is against programmes such as the four minute programme PIPI is running he should tell New Zealanders why.
“This is typical of the Education Minister whose mode of operation is simply to bully anyone who disagrees with him on Education into submission. He’s done it with the Bulk funded schools and now he’s trying to do it with me. This is a counter attack on me for securing the inquiry. He’s angry that this inquiry is getting underway because he knows the findings are going to be alarming and they will force him to get on and tackle this issue.
“Trevor Mallard knows that when it comes to reading I have the experience and expertise that are very important to the inquiry. That I have a passion for ensuring the children in our schools have the right to read. He knows how serious the crisis is with reading in our schools and that I will be the one monitoring the his performance once the Select Committee makes its recommendations.
“I am absolutely committed to making sure we do better with teaching our children to read. The Minister is mistaken if he thinks he can bully me off the Committee. Quite frankly I find his behaviour offensive and demeaning to his position as Minister of Education,” said Donna Awatere Huata.
ENDS

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