Saturday, December 18, 2004

Kia kaha Orauta

Yesterday I blogged about a school in Venezuela which had resisted attempts to force its closure and which is now operating under the control of the working class community it serves. Today's Herald reports on a school in Moerewa which is defying Ministry of Education demands that it close, and which plans to operate next year under the control of the community it serves:

School board chairman Ken Brown says local whanau have retained control of the school, and an occupation will continue until it reopens to students next year. He said the school, now known as Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Maara o Hineamaru Ki Orauta (Maori school in the garden of our ancestor Hineamaru in Orauta), had alarms and moves by officials to enter buildings would be met with protests...

The 30-child school has continued to be a thorn in the side of Education Minister Trevor Mallard, who in February announced it was to close. In August, Orauta's board moved to set the school up as a private institution. Mr Mallard said no. In October, it offered to buy the school and sent a cheque for $3, one dollar for each of its buildings, which was promptly returned with a warning that the group must vacate the site by January 28. Then last month a Maori incorporation set up to manage the school's assets issued Mr Mallard with a trespass notice barring him from the school. Mr Mallard responded by saying he had no plans to visit.

Read the rest here.

The people of Orauta are not the only group of Maori challenging the government's authority head on right now. In the Far North, Ngati Kahu are refusing to acknowledge the passage of Labour's seabed and foreshore legislation through parliament. A Ngati Kahu hapu blockaded a road leading to disputed land and foreshore last week. Earlier this year Ngati Kahu elder Margaret Mutu sparked hysteria when she compared Labour's legislation to Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people, and warned of civil war in Aotearoa.

Let's hope that the left rallies around the people of Orauta, if they end up having to confront Mallard's goons late in January. Keep you posted.


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