Change can be scary, but this proposal is full of the type of courage that is required if we are ever going to experience the type of education and prosperity that our country has the potential to offer. Yes, I absolutely, without a doubt, will be supporting the Minister’s proposal for the reform of the ITPs and attending the public forums for consultation. As part of my PhD, I have just spent four years researching the well-being of my own tertiary institute, and the Minister has nailed the core issue in this proposal. The issues are the system. Our current system is based on a productivity and machine model, which no longer serves our communities. This proposal is yet another beacon of hope for Aotearoa New Zealand’s education and our community as a whole.

It is obvious in this proposal that the Minister and his people have listened with empathy and heard the desperate cries for change in education. He acknowledges that the current state is not form people’s willingness or innate ability to provide the necessary services, instead it is in the growth in the debilitating system that established a competitive environment that lead to over-duplication of courses and programmes. So the elimination of mechanisms that cause competition – ātaahua. Building a system that encourages collaboration – tino ātaaahua. But this is going to be a tricky environment to navigate.

A dramatic change of direction always does. But education has been on a waka that has been spinning so out of control that it has been creating its own vortex that disorientates many.  This proposal is like the Minister pulling back on the hoeroa (steering paddle) – slowing down the out-of-control waka, to get balanced and orientated. The proposal navigates ITPs out of the vortex and hopefully to a better future.

The success of this proposal will be in the leadership as this does require wayfinding leadership. It would be unwise to do a common managerial mistake of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” because though ITPs have struggled, within them there are some good caring and intelligent practices. Open Polytechnic with their knowledge on distant learning, and Otago Polytechnic who lead in the implementation of micro-credentialing and strong sustainability practices. The regional institutions have access with hapū and iwi that, like industries, struggled to build relationships with ITPs (but not unique of ITPs) to inform and influence curriculum designing that is agile and meets the needs of the community.

This proposal is bold and necessary if we want the future of Aotearoa New Zealand to be prosperous. Yes, there will be repercussions, however, not trying because fear, especially those focussed primarily around financial sustainability would simply be continuation of current debilitating and destructive management systems. Hence why this proposal requires courage, and agile thinking that is wayfinding.

And while the Ministry turn to international examples of good practice, my own research has revealed that there is a model of distributed leadership that is indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand, hapū and the marae. So I would recommend a closer look at those models as my own research has revealed that the sustainable practices within these institutions are grounded in care, wellbeing, and prosperity for all. For Maui’s waka was in fact a double-hull waka, two parties working together, maintaining balance, and forging forward together alongside each other.


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