Iwi leader Sir Toby Curtis says he's “astounded” that the Minister of Education has denied receiving a claim that is before the Waitangi Tribunal regarding the closure of eleven charter schools.
According to Curtis, Minister Chris Hipkins said in a written response that the Crown had not yet been formally served with the claim.
Curtis is the spokesperson for the claimant group which lodged the claim on July 3.
The group also includes Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Dame Tariana Turia and Pem Bird.
"Our claim was served on the Crown via Crown Law at the same time it was filed with the Waitangi Tribunal, as is the usual practice. Crown Law has confirmed to our legal advisers that they are in receipt of the claim,” says Curtis.
The claim was also widely endorsed by kaumatua and community leaders.
Curtis says it is important because the large majority of the 1,500 students at the schools that are being shut down are Māori.
"Denying Māori the opportunity to be consulted on major decisions affecting us for generations to come goes against everything that the Treaty of Waitangi stands for,” he says.
Meanwhile, a statement provided to Rereātea by the Minister of Education states, “The process for lodging a Treaty of Waitangi claim involves applicants submitting a statement of claim and/or making an application to the Waitangi Tribunal directly.
“The Tribunal will then assign the claim a formal claim reference number (known as a WAI number) and formally notify the Crown. To date, the Crown has received no contact from the Waitangi Tribunal either to serve the Crown with a claim or to take steps to convene a hearing.”