|Kindly contributed by the Publications Group from the Proceedings of Treaty Conference 2000|
Racism: Researching A Tertiary Institution’s
Commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi Charter Provisions
Central Institute of Technology
ABSTRACT: This presentation focuses on three separate, yet connected investigations into senior management and departmental approaches and attitudes towards a lower North Island tertiary institution’s Charter commitments to the ‘principles’ of the Treaty of Waitangi. Two pieces of research were carried out on behalf of the institution’s Komiti Maori, and a third by a member of the bicultural Treaty Focus Group. All three provide a sad reflection of the monocultural racism reflected within the institute’s culture. And yet, the data provides some hope for the future.
For the past 12 years, educational institutions in both the compulsory and tertiary sectors have been required to spell out how they are meeting their Charter commitments to The Crown’s self-defined five essential Treaty of Waitangi ‘principles’. A small group of Maori and tauiwi staff at the Central Institute of Technology (CIT), unhappy about the institution’s indifference to its Treaty responsibilities, took matters into own hands. Their explorations confirm that institutional racism is rife. Yet there is real hope. Staff were frank in commenting on their own practices, and a significant number appear open to examining these. The greatest benefits to date are in how Maori and tauiwi activists are exploring and developing our own Treaty relationship.
This presentation provides a general summary of three investigations into how seriously CIT as a tertiary educational institution views its obligations and practices according to its responsibilities under legislation. In the process, Maori and tauiwi are gaining insights about our own Treaty relationships. These investigations, two reviews initiated by Maori staff in the past four years, the other, a survey conducted by me as a member of CIT’s Treaty Focus Group, provide a sad reflection of the monocultural racism reflected within the institute’s educational culture. The author of the two reviews and representative of Te Komiti Maori supports me in publicising the results of the reviews. I accept personal responsibility for the interpretation and choice of emphasis on critical aspects of the results.
CIT built its reputation as a national institution based in Upper Hutt offering specialised trades, electronic and engineering courses. It has traditionally been male dominated and monocultural - indeed a number of key tutors, specialists in their fields, were non-New Zealanders. In the past 10 years, through the introduction of hospitality, business, podiatry and other service courses, there has been a gradual increase in the number of female staff and students, and a smaller increase in the number of overseas students and non-pakeha teaching staff.
The number of Maori students and staff has remained proportionally small. Numbers increased with the creation of a Maori Studies Department, which coincided with government funding for return to work and TOPS programmes in the early to mid 1990s, However, these fell away from the mid 1990s when private providers, many of these Maori-backed, began successfully tendering for such funding initiatives. Following the latest CIT institutional Review this year, a significant number of programmes have been axed and more Maori staff have resigned or been made redundant.
The first review of CIT’s Treaty of Waitangi Charter commitments occurred in 1997, at the initiative of Te Komiti Maori, comprising Maori members of staff. Te Komiti singled out CIT’s Registry Office Service to review because (a) this office contained the Principal’s Suite and Human Resources Department, and (b), was viewed as the hub of the organisation, the central pivot for external and internal institutional activity with staff, students and their communities. Te Komiti focused particularly on the delivery of education and student services to Tangata Whenua.
Many Registry staff (allied and academic) were reluctant to take part in the review, and none responded to an initial written questionnaire. As a consequence, two academic staff (representing Maori and tauiwi) held one-to-one interviews with all members. Their review concluded that:
- CIT was not meeting its Treaty objectives. There were no formally designated positions for Maori staff within management structures or on decision-making bodies; and no formal policies, procedures or practices related to implementing Treaty objectives;
- Some staff were uninformed or ill-informed about, or not receptive to Treaty issues and Charter requirements;
- Maori issues in relation to the Treaty partnership were dealt with on an ad hoc, informal basis; and
- Treaty initiatives (by staff) were not being followed through.
The review concluded that the current Registry Office staff and structure did not enable Treaty issues to be developed in a true ‘Treaty partnership’ manner, which meant it was highly unlikely that the rest of the institute would be able to do so.
Neither the review nor its results were widely publicised - it occurred at a time CIT was reviewing all department and activities to determine the ‘viability’ of programmes and services. One significant decision of the institution-wide review was to close down the Maori Studies Department and thus reduce for Maori students and staff, a place to come together for awhi and support. Along with the closure, came the folding of Te Komiti Maori.
My Masters studies the following year provided an opportunity to identify current blockages in institutional policies and practices, and working towards change. I chose to explore the attitudes of middle and senior management ( the institution’s ‘gatekeepers’) towards CIT’s Charter commitments related to the Treaty of Waitangi. My intention was to:
- Gauge the level of knowledge that this group have about the Treaty, and the level of awareness of their obligations under the CIT Charter;
- Determine what barriers the institution puts in the way of discharging its responsibilities, and how these might be dismantled; and
- Explore managers’ attitudes about the concept of bicultural partnership.
The research took place over a 10 week period, with the primary data source, a survey involving the distribution of 20 questionnaires to 12 Heads of Departments (HODs) and the 8-member Senior Managers Group (SMG). I also planned two follow-up focus group discussions, although this did not eventuate due to lack of volunteers.
The survey comprised a questionnaire containing 12 main and 6 subsidiary questions. Most questions were closed, through in particular areas, participants were provided with the opportunity to elaborate on their responses. The questionnaire was designed to elicit:
- length of time managers had been employed at CIT
- whether they were familiar with the Articles underpinning the Treaty of Waitangi
- their attendance in any Treaty awareness training
- their level of awareness of the relevant sections within CIT’s Charter relating to bicultural ‘partnership principles’
- whether they applied any of these ‘principles’ in their roles as managers
- whether they could identify any obstacles or constraints to implementing ‘partnership principles’
- what priority they placed on implementing such ‘partnership principles’ in professional practice, given the multitude of demands they faced as managers.
Three categories of professional practice were referred to in the questionnaire: educational administration, teaching/learning strategies, and student support strategies. These were identified because of their significance in contributing or impacting on both the life of the institution and the quality of service provided.
In all, 13 of the 20 managers responded - 5 of the 8 SMGs, and 8 of the 13 HODs. The results showed that the majority had worked at CIT for more than five years, and nearly half indicated a lack of knowledge about any of the Articles of the Treaty of Waitangi. Most were unaware under which legislation educational institutions are required to incorporate The Crown’s set of ‘Five Treaty principles’ as a guideline for bicultural partnership practices. The vast majority indicated they were familiar with the three sections of CITs Charter relating to these guidelines.
The response to how Charter requirements were implemented in educational administration, teaching/learning strategies, and student support strategies, was disappointing but not surprising. While one or two HODs were to be commended for their endeavours, on the whole, the degree of implementation appeared to either reflect the requirement of a specialist curriculum field, or dependence on the passion of individual tutors and managers. The vast majority of SMGs indicated they applied ‘partnership principles' either “a little” or “not at all” in the area of educational administration.
Only one of the 13 respondents, a HOD, showed a deep familiarity with and application of bicultural practice in teaching and learning practices. In the area of student support strategies some HODs consistently indicated they had little knowledge or awareness about their obligations or responsibilities. When it came to identifying a priority rating on incorporating ‘partnership principles’ into professional practice, the response was evenly spread:
- about one-third rated it a lowish priority
- about one-third a medium-ish priority, and
- about one-third a high priority.
Financial constraints, the practice of crisis management, lack of opportunities and work pressures were common responses to the low or medium priority rates by most respondents. A small, but significant minority indicated they saw bicultural practice as irrelevant to either their professional field of interest or student groups.
Overall, the results indicate that only two or three departments are more exposed to aspects of Maori culture and custom than others, and that their programmes and courses have much higher intakes of Maori students and involvement with Maori clients. A significant minority of those indicating little knowledge or awareness about their responsibilities as a Treaty partner had been employed at CIT for less than two years or more than five years. Few respondents had been involved in Treaty awareness or education sessions in recent years. The apparent lack of incorporating information into educational administrative and teaching practices raised questions both about the effectiveness of such sessions, and the amount of ongoing support and encouragement to apply any such knowledge into their practices.
One unexpected conclusion I drew was that an analysis of the survey indicated a potential goodwill that existed among respondents. The questionnaire was carefully constructed to detect possible inconsistencies in participants’ responses, particularly relating to attitudes and behaviours. The details included in their responses, indicate they had given some thought to the issues, and also signalled an openness or neutrality ( as opposed to apathy or resistance) when reflecting on the implications of incorporating bicultural practices within their areas of responsibilities.
The largest obstacle to implementing bicultural practices within CIT, seems to be the one not mentioned by any of the respondents - ‘pakehatanga’, or institutional racism, which Rangihau (1986) says has resulted from the impact of the colonisation on the psyche of Aotearoa New Zealand. Like most tertiary institutions in this country, CIT is monocultural, reflecting the dominant society from which it draws the large majority of teaching and administrative staff and students. This is reflected in the wry comments of Royal (1987), who notes that despite attempts to “biculturalise” polytechnics, the foundations and beliefs continue to remain firmly based in "tikanga pakeha". He attributes this to the fact that institution regulations are written and maintained by people who created the same British social inventions.
It is interesting, and not altogether surprising that CIT’s ‘gatekeeping’ community does not choose to exercise its power and authority to provide a lead. I conclude from the responses of participants, that they perceived the issue as one for the institution “out there” to address, rather than one each has some responsibility and accountability for. It certainly bears out the comments of Rangihau and Royal (ibid.). Institutional racism has no legitimacy and highlights the urgency with which it must be challenged. This piece of research indicates a lack of management information, skills, confidence, education and training. It also reinforces a key 1997 Interview Review finding of a lack of coherent CIT policy for dealing with its responsibilities under its Charter.
2000 CIT Review
CIT experienced yet another academic review of its activities earlier this year. For the first time, and at the insistence of Maori staff, the review included an examination of whether or how the institution’s divisions and departments viewed their Treaty-related responsibilities under the institution’s Charter. The review surveyed 26 divisions and departments and received a total of 20 responses. The survey built on both pieces of previous research undertaken in 1997 and 1998.
As a general observation, this review concludes there are large gaps between what CIT currently delivers in terms of its Treaty obligation, and what staff expect or believe should be happening. Responses indicate that the staff expectations of what should be happening, exceed the reality of what is happening.
For example, the partnership principles currently have generally ‘no’ or ‘moderate to slight’ influence in the areas of strategic development, programme or delivery service, management and policies, and student/client support services even though respondents thought these should have highest priority.
The review also indicates that the largest gaps of partnership influence are in the areas of resourcing and organisational structures, public relations and marketing, and governance despite these being identified as needing to have a much higher level of influence.
The results emphasise there is no shared or common institutional understanding of, or commitment to, Treaty matters. While some departments or divisions have a good understanding of ‘partnership principles’ and apply this understanding in practice, others (at least three) believe the Treaty of Waitangi is irrelevant to their particular section.
One result, not highlighted in any earlier survey or review, discloses that while some departments or divisions are somewhat active in seeking Maori advice, support or approval in developing programmes or services (an NZQA requirement), they are less active in seeking Maori input which involves documentation or delivery of these. One division indicated that it was “totally inactive” in all areas, while some indicated they were “generally inactive” in all areas of Maori input.
The review finds that the current level of support is inadequate although staff do identify a wide number of institutional services or activities that could (be developed to) assist the development of Treaty-based initiatives. For instance, there are a number of departments and divisions which have programmes or services they are willing to share with others.
All three investigations referred to make a number of detailed recommendations. One of the most significant is that of the need:
- to appoint a Treaty Coordinator, directly reporting to the CEO, to provide a centrally driven, considered and coordinated approach to developing Treaty initiatives within CIT.
Three other key recommendations involve:
- adequate funding to provide Treaty-based training,
- funding for ‘bi-lingual’ signage, and
- funding for a whare as a focal point for staff, students and visitors, as a first step to establishing a marae on campus.
Closing Ranks, Building Bridges
All in all, the results of our probes only confirm what we’ve always known - that our educational institution is built on, and continues to permeate monocultural and institutionally racist culture and practices. While this might appear depressing, the investigations have created a positive spin-off. Most significantly, it resulted in the establishment of Te Komiti o te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty Focus Group) and the bringing together of Maori and tauiwi staff committed to challenge and change CIT’s culture.
It is ironic to observe that only through the disbanding of Te Komiti Maori that we have come together under another umbrella to support and carry on Te Komiti’s work. The institution owes a debt of gratitude to Karl Wixon, who as out-going secretary of that committee, challenged us to actively apply the principles of ‘partnership’. Karl is the driving force, the glue that helped bring and bind together, Maori and tauiwi activists to form the Treaty Focus Group. Since its formation two years ago it has concentrated on developing and implementing strategies designed to dismantle institutional racism. Initiatives include:
- exploring and developing our own relationship
- working closely with our CEO to support and encourage his burgeoning interest in Treaty change practices
- developing, for the first time, a relationship with the CIT Council, through closer contact with key members
- providing a pathway for the Council to liaise with tangata whenua, Te Atiawa and the Wellington 10ths Trust
- the on-going provision of Te Reo Maori language classes within CIT
- the current advertising of the newly created position of a Treaty Coordinator, a senior management position with direct authority to the CEO.
- activists' involvement in institutional structures where key policies and decisions are influenced.
I do not wish to paint a rosy picture, because things are not particularly clear and bright. I suspect CIT’s culture reflects the norm for most education and public service sectors. All these achievements are in the initial and often foggy stages where only vague outlines are apparent. Considerable energy and careful strategising is needed to ensure they are nurtured and merge into a much wider and stronger form. I have focused on the potential that these initiatives signal because these offer hope. I view these as the first phases in project management.
The first significant phase was designed by Te Komiti Maori. This provided a framework, a blueprint. Most of this was done behind the scenes, though some aspects became visible through Te Komiti’s lobbying of the CIT Academic Board and Council. The second phase has involved the coming together of Maori and tauiwi and the building up of trust, relationship and commitment for a united cause.
The third has involved extending communication and dialogue with key institutional groups and individuals. This is where much of the energy remains focused. Sadly, Karl resigned his position as a lecturer in design last month, and has headed for greener, more harmonious pastures. He leaves in his wake, a challenge whose ripples our Treaty Focus Group must grasp if the spirit and energy of his contributions and those of his Maori caucus colleagues are to be harnessed. We can take comfort from the thought that the foundations have been dug and the first batch of concrete has been poured. It is now up to a revamped crew to take over the shift for the next phase of the journey. We continue to venture into the unknown, with a clear vision of the future, drawing on the experiences of those who are both behind and before us.
CIT is committed to:
- the overarching partnership principles embodied in the Treaty of Waitangi and will apply those principles in all aspects of its business
- (‘Honouring the Treaty of Waitangi’)
- its role in honouring the partnership principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (‘Statement of Values’)
- special importance being placed on relationships with its community of interests so that products and services are relevant to their needs; and the Maori community (is) represented by Tangata Whenua on all campuses (‘CIT’s Communities of Interest’).
Rangihau, J. (1986). Ministerial Advisory Committee on a Maori Perspective for the Department of Social Welfare. Wellington: Government Print.
Royal, T. (1987). The Bicultural Partnership Imperative in Polytechnics. Speech to the NZ Polytechnic Principals’ Conference, on ‘Maori Education Needs: The Role of the Polytechnics’.