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