Part 6: Administration and monitoring of the Manaaki Tauira scholarship scheme

Inquiry into the Ministry of Education's monitoring of scholarships administered by the Māori Education Trust.


The Manaaki Tauira scheme was established to ensure that participation by Māori in tertiary education was not adversely affected when significant increases in tertiary fees were introduced in the early 1990s.

This tertiary scholarship scheme is funded from a capped pool of $4.3 million each year, and may provide up to the lesser of $1,250 or 90% of tertiary fees. It is allocated proportionally among eligible applicants, and each year grants are made to about 8000 low-income students who can demonstrate a commitment to Māori language and culture. The Ministry establishes the income level for eligibility.

The Ministry carried out a competitive tendering process and awarded the Manaaki Tauira contract to the Trust in 2002.

Process followed by the Māori Education Trust

The process for administering applications for Manaaki Tauira scholarships is the same as that outlined in Part 4 for Māori and Polynesian Higher Education scholarships, with the following exceptions:

  • The Manaaki Tauira scheme is administered through a separate database, which was taken over by the Trust in 2002 when it assumed administration responsibility from Specialist Education Services. The database does not interface with the Trust’s financial systems.
  • The Ministry determines the value of scholarship to be awarded to each eligible applicant. The Ministry also sets the maximum annual income an applicant can earn in order to be eligible. This criterion has not changed in recent times.

Our findings and conclusions

Contract award

To ensure an appropriate procurement process was followed, we reviewed the documentation supporting the Ministry’s decision to award the Manaaki Tauira contract to the Trust.

The evaluations of prospective suppliers identified 3 potential providers with similar evaluation scores. Only 2 of these providers were requested to submit a full tender proposal. From discussion with Ministry officials, there appear to have been valid reasons to exclude the third potential provider, on the basis that the evaluation of that organisation was inconsistent with the Ministry’s existing knowledge of the organisation’s capabilities. These reasons were not documented.

The Ministry’s knowledge of the organisation should have been documented on the tender evaluation file. The Ministry should also have assessed whether the process it used for the initial evaluation was thorough and appropriate, given that the evaluation results did not match what Ministry staff knew about the organisation’s capabilities.

Institutions recorded as ‘unknown’

The institution of study for a number of Manaaki Tauira recipients was recorded in the scholarship database as ‘unknown’. In 2002 and 2003, we found that $79,980 had been paid to students at ‘unknown’ institutions. Scholarship applications should not be processed where the institution is not identified.

Recommendation 6: We recommend that the Trust cease processing scholarship applications where the institution of study is not identified.

Private training establishments

The Manaaki Tauira contract refers to scholarships being awarded to students studying at: a New Zealand University, College of Education, Polytechnic or Wānanga that has been registered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to provide the course being undertaken.

During 2002 and 2003, the Trust continued with the practice (inherited from Specialist Education Services) of awarding scholarships to students studying at private training establishments. Scholarships were awarded to 1107 students at private training establishments, with a total value of $771,185.

Under the terms of the contract, these students are not eligible for Manaaki Tauira scholarships. The Ministry notes that the tertiary sector has changed since the introduction of Manaaki Tauira and has identified the need to address this situation.

The appropriation covering the Manaaki Tauira scholarship scheme refers to scholarships being provided according to “established criteria”. The Ministry has told us that operational policy has historically recognised students at private training establishments as being eligible for Manaaki Tauira scholarships, given that those establishments fit the criterion in the Manaaki Tauira contract (i.e. of being registered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to provide the course being undertaken). In our view, this practice is not authorised by the wording of the Manaaki Tauira contract, which does not refer to private training establishments.

The Manaaki Tauira contract needs to be amended to formalise the criteria that appear to have been established for some time (as reflected in historical practice), and thereby to remove any possibility that the expenditure is in breach of the appropriation. We are unclear as to why the Ministry has not made this straightforward amendment to align the Manaaki Tauira contract with practice.

Recommendation 7: We recommend that the Ministry address whether students studying at private training establishments should be eligible for Manaaki Tauira Scholarships and amend the Manaaki Tauira contract as necessary.
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