Donna’s come­back

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

Three years ago she was por­trayed as a vil­lain – an MP who for the sake of van­ity, stole from her con­stituents.

You would have thought that Donna Awa­tere Hu­ata was a mass mur­derer given the way she was con­demned by most of the coun­try.

Donna’s ac­tions had to be ad­dressed, but her crime of tak­ing $50,000 didn’t de­serve the level of con­dem­na­tion and the jail term she got.

In­stead of go­ing to jail, she should have been or­dered back to the com­mu­nity so that her con­sid­er­able ed­u­ca­tion skills could be utilised for their ben­e­fit.

In the 1980s Donna pro­duced a nu­mer­acy and lit­er­acy pro­gramme that has proven to be a great suc­cess with Kiwi kids.

So it’s in her ca­pac­ity as an ed­u­ca­tion­ist that John Tami­here and the Na­tional Ur­ban Maori Author­ity have en­gaged her to or­gan­ise a much needed ed­u­ca­tion con­fer­ence called The Wai­pareira Way.

Un­for­tu­nately too many Maori kids are fail­ing un­der the cur­rent ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. One in ev­ery two Maori boys fails NCEA level one.

Some fail be­cause they are from dys­func­tional homes, but many come from fam­i­lies with good par­ents. So to put the blame just on par­ents is wrong.

We also have to look be­yond fam­i­lies to the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and ask why Auck­land and Mt Eden pris­ons are ed­u­cat­ing our kids by de­fault.

That is the main aim of the con­fer­ence – to find com­mu­nity-driven so­lu­tions.

Bring­ing Donna on board is a de­ci­sion to be ap­plauded al­though some crit­ics are ask­ing why a fraud­ster has been given this task.

JT’s re­sponse is that th­ese crit­ics would be bet­ter off cap­tur­ing the white col­lar crim­i­nals who re­cently stole $1.5 bil­lion off good Kiwi in­vestors rather than vil­ify Donna whose skills are much needed by our kids and com­mu­nity. I reckon JT’s right. The con­fer­ence starts next Wed­nes­day at the Trusts Sta­dium in Waitakere.

Lis­ten to Wil­lie Jack­son on Mon­day at 10am on Ra­dio Waatea 603AM

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