The landmark proposal for AUSA to potentially leave the NZUSA has raised a number of questions and concerns surrounding funding around the University of Auckland rohe.
While the motion passed with a majority of 50 to 29 votes at AUSA’s annual general meeting back in May, the proposal for AUSA to leave the New Zealand Union of Students Associations has since been met with scrutiny. This has largely been undertaken by groups that rely on the funding and support of the NZUSA and whether or not this would continue should AUSA make the significant decision to leave.
Whilst there is a large faction wanting to see UoA’s Student Union leave NZUSA, citing the argument of a “lack of value for money” and little direct benefit from NZUSA membership for University of Auckland students, the key concern of funding — much of which comes from NZUSA contributions — remains strong.
An AUSA exit from NZUSA would be a significant move for groups within the University of Auckland sphere. Much of the funding that is given for student organisations and collectives comes from the national union, and the levies. It is understood that Te Mana Ākonga, the Union of Māori Tertiary Education students, receives around $40,000 from NZUSA through a Memorium of Understanding.
Minutes obtained by Craccum of the 2021 AUSA General Meeting (which are widely available on the AUSA website) on May 31st confirm that questions were raised by UoA Māori Students Association Ngā Tauira Māori surrounding funding concerns and the welfare of Māori and Pasifika students, of which form a sizable minority of the UoA student population. The documentation of said meeting states that both the AUSA President, and the General Manager do not intend to leave Te Mana Akonga and their Pasifika counterpart, Tauira Pasifika out to dry and financially unstable. Rather, the minutes state that AUSA is willing to commit financially to the two groups should the decision be made to leave NZUSA, citing the significant impact that they have on Māori and Pasifika students.
After the conclusion of the annual meeting on the 31st May however, Te Mana Ākonga Tūmuaki Takirua/Co-President Renata White told Craccum that AUSA did not provide enough information to address collective concerns presented by underserved groups, such as Pasifika, LGBTQ+ and International organisations within the University of Auckland Sphere.
As of this week, financial concerns from Te Mana Ākonga remain at the forefront. Representatives from Aotearoa’s Māori Tertiary Students Union told Craccum that TMA are awaiting to hui with AUSA regarding funding, and are yet to hear from the UoA union at all about the issue. They are, however, very much open to kōrero with AUSA regarding the matter.
AUSA President Anamika Harirajh told Craccum that throughout 2020, AUSA contributed 18.6% to NZUSA funding, of which NZUSA contributed around $26,000 to TMA. Should AUSA make the decision to leave the NZUSA, Harirajh states that AUSA is committing to funding at least 18.6% of TMA funding, adding up to a total of just over four thousand dollars. Depending on the financial position of both AUSA and TMA however, they may consider a larger contribution.