Te Mātāwai chair rules out solely funding Northern whare wānanga

By Raniera Harrison

Chair of Te Mātāwai, Waihoroi Shortland (Ngāti Hine, Te Aupōuri) has ruled out single-handedly funding a proposed whare wānanga exclusive for Northland tribes.

The chairman of Te Mātāwai is remaining resolute on his position regarding the establishment of an exclusive school of learning in Northland.

"Te Mātāwai will not expend all of their money in Northland on a single initiative," said Mr. Shortland this afternoon, speaking from his Kerikeri residence.

However, there are those who see the credit in the idea floated by former Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori board member, Quinton Hita of Ngāpuhi.

Rāniera Tau of Te Rūnanga Ā Iwi o Ngāpuhi says that this is an initiative which has benefits for the tribes of the North- Ngāpuhi being the biggest, with close to 128,000 registered descendants.

"Te Mātāwai's budget is being spent on things that seem trivial.  That's the funding that needs to be put in to an initiative like this," says Mr. Tau, who welcomes the initiative.

The Executive of Te Mātāuru o Te Tai Tokerau will meet tomorrow in Kerikeri to make final decisions of the funding for language revitalisation strategies in Northland. 

"I won't give a number on how much because we need to see [in] the details of the submission [that it] is not intent on providing an employment opportunity first and foremost. If we see that, we will shake our heads. We are not in the business of creating jobs," he says.

Tau says that Te Rūnanga Ā Iwi o Ngāpuhi will give financial assistance to the establishment of an exclusive house of learning- however, it will be small.  He adds that it is an important conversation that needs to take place.

"What I am saying is if there is any wealth that we have as a people- it is our people.  They are skilled, and a lot of them are from here," adds Tau.

Shortland says that although the Te Mātāuru o Te Tai Tokerau Te Mātāwai funding round has closed- there are still numerous avenues for those who want to make the whare wānanga a reality.

"Why make a new wheel when the car travels fine on the wheels it already has?"

It is unclear whether Te Rūnanga Ā Iwi o Ngāpuhi will formalise discussions on the matter at this point in time.