While the big national policy matter this week is tax reform, in Māori policy the heavy-weight items that landed were the Whānau Ora review and separately the finalised Maihi Karauna (Crown Māori Language Strategy).
The Crown’s long overdue Māori language strategy was finally released on Thursday at Te Matatini by Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden. Our review of this strategy is provided on page 2 (access subscriber only). Using our standard assessment rubric we consider it of marginal quality in that is reads as partially effective in issue and goal identification, but does have some gaps in analytics. Most prominently, this strategy is not about new, deep water navigation: it’s a ‘keep it steady, and stay close to shore’ approach for Te Reo revitalisation. We advise more than that is needed, and note despite the various goal and outcome statements, no new investment to achieve anything different is attached.
The Whānau Ora review was commissioned in May last year. The result is this 100+ page report which essentially reaches the view that, despite there not being enough time yet to be assured of the durability of outcomes, overall Whānau Ora works as it should; and therefore Government ought to gear up to establish more commissioning agencies, and provide more funding to the initiative. Issues around service fit (i.e. dealing with crisis matters rather than being focused on enabling whānau), and deficiencies in State sector support are saliently noted. Our fuller review is provided from page 6 (access subscriber only), with our overall conclusion being that it’s a good report, but still needs policy work to really address the questions that prompted a review in the first place. That is, the report is a positive service performance review, but is not a reflective review of overall service design.
As noted, tax is the main economic issue being discussed this week; with the release of the second and final report of the Government’s Tax Working Group. There is much discussion on the rights and wrongs of capital gains tax by political and media commenters, and this issue has a whole second volume report attached. In the main report, however, there is clear consideration of Māori worldviews, and a considered view on the taxation of Māori land is given. Retaining and improving the current Māori land tax regime – 17.5% on returns – is recommended. Further, resolving Māori rights and interests in freshwater is seen as a prerequisite step for any water tax too. Our review covers these matters, refer to page 9. (access subscriber only)