One of the main organisors of the recent China trip by young Maori students was educator, Toni Waho.
Mr Waho is principal of Palmerton North’s Mana Tamariki total immersion school and a Trustee of the National Te Kōhanga Reo Trust.
In 2006 he was appointed by Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard to the New Zealand Teacher’s Council.
Toni Waho and his wife, Penny Poutu, are key drivers of the Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa (total immersion) Maori language schooling movement.
In my opinion, the Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Maori movements are designed to foster a seperatist, radical, even revolutionary culture among young Maori.
Both Waho and Poutu have radical backgrounds.
During the early ’80s the Maoist Workers Communist League dominated student politics at Victoria University and in the New Zealand University Students Association.
As a Vic law student, Toni Waho worked closely with a fellow radical, Joan Ropiha. The pair wrote an article in a 1983 issue of the student paper Salient entitled “Two Peoples, One Struggle” calling on pakeha to join the struggle for Maori self determination.
In 1984, Toni Waho was Maori Vice President of NZUSA.
Penny Poutu was involved in student politics at Massey University in the early ’80s.
She was active in the Workers Communist League linked Palmerston North Unemployed Rights Centre.
In November 1983 she signed a Socialist Action League statement condemning the US invasion of Grenada.
From 1985 to 1989 Poutu was an editorial advisor on Race for the WCL linked “Race Gender Class” radical studies forum-as was Joan Ropiha..
In June 1984 Toni Waho, Penny Poutu and Allanh Marriott were NZUSA delegates to an “educational” conference in Quezon City, Philippines.
The conference was organised by the Asian Students Association, a federation of Maoist leaning student organisations. It was hosted by the League of Filipino Students, a well known front for the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The Workers Communist League had links with all three organisations.
The NZ trio presented an NZUSA paper to the conference on Maori education;
The school system was used by the state to destro Maori values with a particlar focus on the Maori language….The maori community has demanded that their language and culture be included in the curriculum…A pre-school network is being developed on the meagre resources of the maori community. This is known as “Te Kohanga Reo…”
In order for this situation to be improved, the Maori people trying to organise themselves and achieve unity in order to overcome oppression…
We have come to this Workshop/Seminar as representatives of NZUSA to make contact with the indigenous peoples of the Asian region. While our struggle is much different to those of the developing countries there many issues on which we will unite naturally and lend each other support.
One wonders if the radical culture which permeates New Zealand Maori language schools is entirely accidental?