Te Pihopatanga is to make a serious claim for 50% of the $300 million putea held in the church’s treasure chest – the St John’s College Trust.
They will present a case to next July’s General Synod after Professor Whatarangi Winiata argued today that the St John’s College Trust had an obligation to support Maori Anglican schools – and had mostly failed to do so.
He noted that three of these schools – St Stephen's, Queens Victoria and Te Waipounamu – have closed “as a consequence of inadequate funding” and that two more, Hukarere and Te Aute, are both facing “financial distress.”
Professor Winiata later said the resolution was about achieving “Maori control over a share of the accumulated surpluses.
“If the trust had made a bigger contribution,” he says, “those schools would still be open.
“They needed a lot of money, and a lot of development. The St John’s College Trust Board is the only show that could have provided that – and they had an obligation to do so.
“It’s not like us begging to Lotto – the Trust Board should have funded those schools, because they should be supporting Maori, and in particular supporting them in education.”
Neither Professor Winiata, nor the seconder of the Pihopatanga resolution, Turi Hollis, underestimate the scale of the challenges before their proposition.
In the first place, Tikanga Maori must persuade General Synod of the merits of the resolution.
Even if General Synod does adopt the resolution, the St John’s College Trust Board – which is an independent legal entity, governed by its own trust deed – will make its own decision..
Professor Winiata puts it this way: “General Synod will decide how much instruction it will give to the St John’s College Trust Board.”
The final step would need to be taken in Parliament, which is the only body that can amend the St John's College Trusts Act in the way the Pihopatanga resolution seeks.
That Act spells out that the college funds can be used for three purposes.
There's provision for “the maintenance and support of the college” itself; and for the education of candidates for ordination.
It’s the third clause that is relevant to the Pihopatanga resolution.
It says that trust board funds can be used: “For the costs of the education of students of all races in such manner and in such places as the General Synod shall from time to time direct, so long as such education includes instruction in the principle of the Christian faith.”
“The wealth of this church,” says Professor Winiata, “is in Pakeha hands. It’s in the parishes, and the dioceses.
“I expect that the General Synod will try very hard to see that (a change) occurs.”
The full resolution
(a) the financial resources of the St John’s College Trust Board have accumulated to a figure in excess of $300million and continue to grow
(b) in recent years St Stephens, Queen Victoria, Te Waipounamu and Hukarere have closed as a consequence of inadequate funding
(c) Hukarere has reopened and Te Aute continues to operate, both are facing financial distress
(d) Te Whare Wananga o Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa Charitable Trust is attracting criticism for building its financial reserves to ensure its stability
(e) many areas of educational activity based on Kaupapa Maori that are consistent with Mihingaretanga lend themselves to advancement by Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa.
THEN Te Runanganui resolves to ask the General Synod to take action to ensure that 50% of the retained earnings of the SJCTB are put under the control of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa.
Moved: Prof Whatarangi Winiata Seconded: Ven Turi Hollis