The Education and Training Act 2020 states that Te Pūkenga "must establish a staff committee, a students’ committee, and a Māori advisory committee."
Once established, the staff committee will be an important voice for members and all staff, as the Act requires Te Pūkenga to consult with this committee about “significant matters relating to the council’s strategic direction” and to “consider any advice given on those matters or any other matters by the committee.”
In August 2020, a workshop on the potential structure and function of the staff committee was held involving representatives from TEU, Te Pūkenga, and TIASA. An agreement was reached that if the staff committee is to reflect the true diversity of the tertiary education sector, its membership would need to include Māori, Pasifika, as well as account for the unique interests pertaining to staff living with disabilities, the needs of both rural and metropolitan regions, and the idiosyncratic requirements tied to teaching disciplines. It was also agreed that staff on the committee would need time and support to appropriately represent their colleagues.
Subsequently, TEU supported the establishment of an interim staff committee which was to be tasked with developing the framework and process for the permanent staff advisory committee, which is intended to be in place from 2023.
It was decided that the election of representatives for the interim staff committee would involve each Te Pūkenga subsidiary putting forward a candidate, and where certain criteria were not met regarding diversity – sufficient numbers of Māori, Pasifika, women, and general staff (etc.) – additional representatives would be selected from the remaining pool of the initial nominations. The elected representatives would hold their positions until 16 December 2022; committee members would be supported by way of adequate working time release; and a co-chair model would be in place in order to give effect to Mana Ōrite.
At both the local and national level, TEU reps have raised concerns about the lack of time for staff to consider information about the election, campaign for certain candidates, and prepare a robust application for nomination.
TEU contacted CEs across the network with a request that their institution adopt a timeframe that would allow staff adequate time to engage on such a pivotal matter. Many CEs, but not all, honoured this request.
Recent appointments to the Interim Staff Committee include TEU members Henry Ma’alo (WelTec) and Mary-Liz Broadley (Open Polytechnic). Both are active in the union: Henry sits on the TEU Tangata Pasifika Advisory Group, and Mary-Liz is a Branch President. We look forward to supporting them, and other members who are elected, in their important roles of representing all staff interests fairly and in balance, as well as offer constructive input and feedback on the developments across RoVE.