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Salient Māori News Items for the Week to 23 February 2018
- New Zealander of the Year Awards were held last night; two Māori were honoured:
- Kim Workman (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Rangitāne), Senior New Zealander of the Year, for public advocacy, policy and research focused on justice sector reforms [E te karanga pāpā, ka nui te mihi ki a koe nā tō whanau]; and
- Ricky Houghton (Te Paatu, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Whātua) New Zealand Local Hero of the Year for housing relief and support initiatives for communities in the Far North.
- Whetu Fala and Te Rau Kupenga have been appointed to the Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision Board.
- Ōnuku Māori Lands Trust (Rotorua) and the Māwhera Incorporation have been announced as the finalists for this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy (which has a dairy sector focus).
- Māori Party members elected Che Wilson as the party’s new president; and Te Ururoa Flavell and Kapua Smith were elected co-vice presidents. No new party leader has been named as yet.
- Bill English has resigned as the leader of the National Party, sparking a leadership race. In addition, the National Party has decided to vote on the position of Deputy Leader (currently held by Hon Paula Bennett). Simon Bridges (Ngāti Maniapoto) has announced his candidacy for the position of leader, along with four other contenders. He joins other Mārama Davidson of the Green Party as another Māori MP with leadership aspirations.
- Applications for the Ministry of Health Hauora Māori Scholarships 2018 are now open. This year 520 scholarships across 11 categories will be awarded. Scholarship applications close 28 March 2018. https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/populations/maori-health/hauora-maori-scholarships-2018/scholarship-categories
- Statistics New Zealand has released a survey on cultural participation, with interesting results, such as data showing wide spread use of Māori words and phrases by both Māori and non-Māori. (71% of Māori reportedly use Te Reo words every week.) We will provide a fuller brief on this item next week. https://www.stats.govt.nz/reports/kiwis-participation-in-cultural-and-recreational-activities
- A petition by Renae Maihi asking the Prime Minister to strip Sir Robert Jones of his Knighthood on the basis of inflammatory comments made about Māori earlier this month has now reached 58,000 people in support. (Pānui 3/2018 provides details on this matter.) The petition can be seen here: https://www.change.org/p/rt-hon-jacinda-ardern-strip-racist-sir-bob-jones-of-his-knighthood-read-his-vile-rant-here
- Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated have launched a low priced funeral package for Iwi members through an agreement with Simplicity Bereavement Services, Hastings. The package is designed to reduce the financial burden of funerals for registered iwi members.
 Underlining added.
Parliamentary Items of Note
- On Wednesday the Minister for Education, Chris Hipkins, announced an overhaul of the education system, commencing with a three-year work plan for change. One of the ten main components is a continuous focus on raising Māori learner achievements. The associated Cabinet paper indicates:
- “there has been significant growth in early learning participation, particularly for Māori, Pasifika and children from lower socio-economic communities. However, participation rates don’t automatically equate to regular attendance, progress or achievement, nor do they take into account the quality of learning opportunities available to children;
- In English medium schooling, Māori and Pasifika children have poorer educational outcomes than their peers. Research has confirmed that teacher unconscious bias and low expectations are significant issues in New Zealand for Māori and Pasifika children and young people, and that this has an ongoing negative impact.
- In Māori medium schooling, Māori children and young people are experiencing educational success as Māori. However this pathway requires strengthening to address significant teacher workforce limitations, retention and capacity issues.”
(We intend to provide a focused review of Māori education in the coming months, and will further draw upon this policy work for that.)
- Last week the Child Poverty Reduction Bill was read for a first time in Parliament, refer to the article above for details.
- This week the Families Commission Act Repeal Bill was read for a first time and referred onto the Social Services and Community Select Committee. This bill, if enacted, will disestablish the Commission (operating as Superu), with its functions mainly shifting to the Ministry of Social Development. Subscribers may recall that over the last few years this Commission has delved into whānau wellbeing research, and last year ultimately concluded its work with the enlightening (sic) statement that:
“supporting and strengthening whānau wellbeing requires a multifaceted approach that includes social and human resource potential factors, as well as economic factors.”
(We described this work as well-meaning but odd-ball stuff; hence we are not completely surprised to see the beginnings of the end for this agency, refer Pānui 12/2017 for the research details).
Today applications open for the Māori digital technology fund, Ka Hao, (formally called the Māori ICT Development Fund). The funding is focused on creating high value employment and business ventures for Māori within the digital (information technology) sector. Use the link below for application information, and note the three current funding priorities are:
- Improving digital skills and pathways for Māori in digital technologies;
- Growing digital technologies businesses; and
- Enhancing new Māori language and culture initiatives through digital technologies.
- The Auckland iwi Te Kawerau a Maki and the Auckland Council seem to be at loggerheads over whether a rāhui to protect kauri trees within the Waitakere Ngāhere should be for the whole forest (iwi viewpoint) or particular areas/tracks (council view). The situation was not helped this week with a council economic agency promoting a Waitangi day walk on a track that was clearly prohibited in order to protect the trees. An apology was issued.
- The Ministry of Primary Industries is consulting on five proposed bylaws to protect freshwater fish species within 13 Rotorua lakes. If enacted the new regulations would protect tuna, īnanga, kākahi, kōaro, kōura and mōrihana, under the Mahire Whakahaere Fisheries Management Plan. Proposed protections include closure of kōaro (meaning no further catches), return of accidentally caught fish of all five specifies, restrictions on harvesting, a ban on scuba gear use, and for Te Arawa to have access to fish species for cultural and customary use. Consultation closes 16 March.
- A grouping of Māori land trusts in the Bay of Plenty are looking to establish a milk processing plant in Kawerau, in partnership with Imanaka (a Japanese company). The plant will be built on land owned by Putauaki Trust, and supplied with geothermal energy from Ngāti Tūwharetoa Geothermal Assets. Imanaka will have a one-third shareholding via a subsidiary, Cedenco.
- Green Party Member of Parliament, Marama Davidson, has confirmed she is seeking election as Party Co-leader.
- Sir Robert Jones has written an opinion piece for the National Business Review mocking Waitangi Day, and Māori. He calls for Māori to provide a day of gratitude to non-Māori, by washing cars and the like, apparently because he considers there are no ‘full-blooded Māori’. The item was deliberately inflammatory, and Sir Robert has received the (presumably) desired reaction of disdain and condemnation. Our only comment regards the National Business Review – why it thought such a column was appropriate for a reputable business magazine is as yet unexplained, although we suspect they will have some explaining to do to the Race Relations Office in the near future, as complaints about the article present.
[Note we will add Sir Robert as a contender for our ūpoko-kumara award, to be announced at Mātāriki. Other contenders we have identified so far include Sir William Gallagher, Professor Paul Moon, and Dr Don Brash, although for clarity eligibility is not restricted to older white males].
 Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).
 Note eligibility for this award is open to all, not just older white males.
- Pauline Waiti is one of seven people appointed by the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, to review the NCEA system.
- Tui Ruwhiu, from the Directors and Editors Guild has been appointed to the Film Industry Working Group. This group will be reviewing worker’s rights in the film production industry (most film production workers are presently considered ‘independent contractors’ not employees, hence the review).
- Erina Tamepo, from Ngā Aho Whakaari has also been appointed to the Film Industry Working Group.
Parliament resumed for the calendar year this week. Some items of note were:
- On Wednesday the Child Poverty Reduction Bill was introduced to Parliament (see article above.)
- On Tuesday the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill was read a first time and referred to the Health Committee. This is a Labour Party bill that proposes amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act, allowing terminally ill people to use cannabis-based products, and to legalize and regulate medical cannabidiol (CBD) products. A supplementary Green Party Bill introduced on Wednesday that sought to allow people suffering from a debilitating condition to use cannabis if supported by a registered medical practitioner failed at its first reading, and will not be considered further. (I.e. the Labour Party bill is centered on developing and regulating cannabis-based medicine, the Green Party bill had been centered on allowing usage of cannabis (quality and quantity unknown) by anyone with a medical certificate. We have included the issue here given the Māori population has a high cannabis usage rate. (The New Zealand Health Survey indicates up to 25% of Māori adults used cannabis at least once within a twelve month period.)
- On Tuesday the Employment Relations Amendment Bill was introduced. According to the Government the purpose of the bill is to “restore key minimum standards and protections for employees, and to implement a suite of changes to promote and strengthen collective bargaining and union rights in the workplace.” Pānui edition 1/2018 advised many of the changes proposed will support low income workers, and Māori are over-represented in that area. e. one-in-five Māori (circa 50,000) are in ‘low skilled occupations’, such as labourers.
- On Tuesday the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill was read a first time and referred to the Justice Committee. This bill aims to prevent a person from remaining in Parliament if they leave the Party in which they stood for. We note National’s Māori Development spokesperson Nuk Korako, has advised he considers this ‘waka jumping bill’ to be bad for Māori representation, and Māori MPs have a duty not just to their party, but also to act in the best interests of Māori, and this bill could prevent that.
Last year a round of debates started on the value and place of the Māori language in New Zealand, particularly after the widespread use by mainstream media of Māori language words and phrases during Māori language week in September. (For example the weather map on Television One was shown with Māori place names). The debate reached a low point in early December, with Don Brash stating that Te Reo had no place in mainstream media, and was of no interest to most people, and Māori should essentially go away and speak Te Reo on their own. Following on from that, this month Professor Paul Moon from Auckland University of Technology released a book that is said to claim, amongst other things, that compulsory Māori language in schools will negatively affect the language: and then the Leader of the Opposition, Bill English, was reported as saying “you can’t rely on a Government and a bureaucracy to save someone else’s language”. For each of these items a peer rebuke has been issued: Kim Hill taking on Don Brash, Professor Pou Temara and also Hēmi Kelly taking on Professor Moon, and former Māori Party candidate Rāhui Papa taking on Bill English.
Accordingly, later this month we will provide an extended and specific briefing on the nature of these types of Māori language debates, and on the actual health of the Māori language. First, however, our assessment of these three individual (white males) comments is as follows.
- Don Brash is now the leader of ‘Hobson’s Choice’ – a lobby group that believes Māori are being given unwarranted group rights in New Zealand, and that should be stopped. In our view Mr Brash’s comments on Te Reo present as ideologically inconsistent with his core political views – i.e. his focus solely on acknowledging individual rights should mean people can speak Māori wherever and whenever they please, as their individual right should not be suppressed by the group demands of others (i.e. the people like him who ‘don’t want to hear’ Te Reo). Given Mr Brash is highly articulate and well educated he is most likely to be aware of this inconsistency. Accordingly, perhaps he has tapped into the Te Reo debate primarily as a means to extend his audience and promote his lobbying entity and its causes; which at present is focused on seeking to have any local government decisions to have a Māori ward overturned. (They are campaigning in Whakatāne presently.) The 2 December Radio NZ debate between Mr Brash and Ms Hill however is a firey exchange worth listening to (in part at least) particularly given its polite yet impolite format.
- Professor Moon is a professor of history and not an academic in areas such as linguistics, socio-linguistics, or language revitalisation theory. Nor is he proficient in Te Reo, so his (lack of) creditability to publish in this area is noteworthy. His newly released book is called Killing Te Reo Māori: An Indigenous Language Facing Extinction, and has now been reviewed by Hēmi Kelly, a Te Reo educator at the same university. Mr Kelly essentially finds Professor Moon’s work to inflate the negatives in language learning and revitalisation, ignoring the positives, and fundamentally wrong in its conclusions around Te Reo being more at risk than previously. In our view Professor Moon’s press release extracts used to promote this work are strongly worded negative statements, without academic research in support, and thus present as designed solely to attract attention and facilitate book sales. We would recommend people read both the blurb and the review by Mr Kelly before purchasing this item. Mr Kelly’s comments are freely available here:
- Whilst we opine that Mr Brash and Professor Moon are, at least to a degree, deliberately seeking media sensationalism around Te Reo for their own personal causes, Mr English’s comments appear to be of a different ilk. What he actually said was more comprehensive than people may have grasped, namely:
“the Government has some obligations through the Treaty. It’s met them in my view. We’ve spent a lot of money on TV, on resources for schools and so on. Probably a bit more can be done with resources for schools and teachers, but in the end it needs people who want to speak it … the owners of it need to speak it and that is people in their households. You can’t rely on a Government and a bureaucracy to save someone else’s language”.
- In this statement, we consider Mr English has got it right in stating that Government is doing the type of activities it should to support the Māori language – although he missed out that many services (such as Māori radio and television) arose out of obligation, not care, and often developed off the back of litigation and protest by Māori. He has also downplayed the quality (or not) of service implementation by Government. Is it possible some services are weak, e.g. is there sufficient Māori language teacher training available? These are shortcomings, but his basic message that the Government is undertaking a reasonable range of action to support Te Reo Māori is correct, as is his thinking that Māori people speaking more Te Reo is essential too. But where Mr English erred gravely was with the three word phrase “someone else’s language” – as if Māori are not part of real New Zealand society, or included in Government processes. That was a mistake, but we suspect simply ‘poor English by English’ (sic) rather than a political statement against the Māori language, as it has subsequently been portrayed.
Overall we note this type of dialogue is occurring on a regular basis in the mainstream media now, and it gives rise to some obvious policy questions, such as: (a) what is the actual health of the Māori language – is it okay or not; and (b) are the right interventions to enhance Te Reo in place, and do they work? As advised, we are undertaking a detailed assessment on these matters which will be provided later this month.
[Subscribers should also note we consider there is an ongoing confusion around Māori language words and phrases within English – i.e. should all schools teach some Te Reo to ensure improved pronunciation and better Māori cultural knowledge, versus increasing the use of Te Reo as the primary means of communication within Māori whānau households and communities. This means media commentators are quite often talking about two quite different concepts within this debate, which adds some confusion.]
 Subscribers will note we only review material freely available in the public domain so that sources can be reviewed directly.
The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has published research it has commissioned on low pay. The research was undertaken by Auckland University of Technology, and is entitled, ‘Low Pay in New Zealand’. The findings are derived from tax data MBIE accessed from Inland Revenue for 2015, so a much better source than other surveys. The researchers use two definitions of low pay:
the ‘OECD method’ of anyone who earns less than two-thirds of the median wage (in 2015 the median wage was circa $23.50 per hour so anyone who earns circa $15.65 per hour or less);
anyone who earns less than 120% of the minimum wage. In 2015 the minimum wage was $14.75 per hour, so anyone who was earning less than $17.70 per hour at that time is included in this research definition. (The minimum wage is now $16.75 per hour so it currently refers to people earning less than $20.10 per hour.)
Māori, Pacific and Asian workers are identified as groups with high proportions of low income earners (i.e. ‘being non-European’). Other linkages were shown with ‘being female’, working part-time, aged 20-29 years or over 65, and low education attainment. As shown in the table below, the report indicates (in 2015) 31% of Māori earned less than 120% of the minimum wage. We calculate that to be circa 84,000 tangata Māori. Below is a table we constructed from data in the report, matched with Statistics New Zealand employment data.
|Low Pay 2015 – Proportion of Employed|
|All employed||Māori*||European NZ*|
|OCED low pay measure||11.1% (206,300)||14% (37,900)||9% (158,100)|
|120% Min Wage low pay measure||24.9% (463,000)||31% (83,800)
|*Percentages herein are from a graph within the research report. Numeric estimates are from Household Labour Force Survey September 2015 data. The Labour Force Survey counts people who were unemployed. I.e. 270,400 Māori and 1,757,200 European NZers. The sources mean there will be small sample size differences.|
Overall we advise this is a technical report, and the findings above perhaps says it all – one in three Māori are likely to be on low wages, compared with one in four non-Māori. We have no issues with the methodology, and the report is a useful contribution to employment and minimum wage policy debates currently occurring between political parties.
Yesterday the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, formally announced that there would be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into historic abuse in State care. This commitment had been part of her (Labour) party’s election manifesto commitments, so the announcement puts that into place.
The Royal Commission will be led by Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand – a former Governor-General. Draft terms of reference have been agreed by Cabinet, but these will only be finalised after consultation. The draft is not yet released, but the Department of Internal Affairs indicates the inquiry will consider “the nature and extent of abuse that occurred in state care, what its immediate and long term impacts were, the factors (including systemic factors) which may have caused or contributed to it, and lessons to be learned from the past.” The inquiry will also consider current settings to prevent and respond to any such abuse. Further, “a key focus of the Inquiry is to understand any differential impacts of abuse in state care for Māori and other groups where differential impact is evident…” This will include considering factors leading to someone being placed in State care.
In our assessment, given the United Nations had already asked New Zealand to investigate these matters, and given the Ministry of Social Development has already settled over 1,600 proven individual claims in this area – and has at least another 1,000 in process, there is no doubt that such an inquiry is warranted. The last (National) Government’s refusal to resolve this matter simply presented as a home goal in the lead up to the election. We note from the extract above, as with other inquiries being launched, the Government is conscious that the experience for Māori in this area may be different from that for others. This is useful, given Māori comprise over half of young people in State care; (i.e. circa 3,100 tamariki/rangatahi Māori are in State care, and a further 360 tamariki/rangatahi Māori are in State youth residences.)
Other members of the Commission have yet to be named, but we would expect at least one or two people with a strong understanding of Māori and State care issues to be appointed, and we will advise further as the matter progresses. Many subscribing organisations may wish to consider making submissions to this Inquiry.
This week the Minister for Child Poverty Reduction / Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, introduced the Child Poverty Reduction Bill to Parliament. This policy area is of major significance to Māori, as our research to date indicates up to 33% of Māori children – circa 130,000 tamariki Māori live in poorer households / poverty. (See technical note below.)
The Bill is centred on ensuring that the present and future Governments maintain appropriate measures of levels of child poverty, and set targets to reduce such poverty. (I.e. it is about regulatory direction to Government, not establishing programmes or services.) If the Bill is passed into law it will establish four primary and six supplementary measures of poverty and material hardship (noting that the previous Government had rejected expert advice calling on the use of such measures.) Future Governments will then be required to set both ten year and three year targets against these measures, and publish their results. Further, Governments will also be required to report on their strategies to promote overall wellbeing of children.
- Following the introduction of the Bill, the following day in her 100 days speech Prime Minister Ardern indicated that some of her Government’s ten year targets would be:
- Reduce the rate of children living in poverty (before housing costs are considered) from 15% to 5%;
- Halve the percentage of children living in poverty (after housing costs are considered) from 20% to 10%;
- Halve the percentage of children living in material hardship from up to 15% now to 7%.
Our initial assessment is that a focus on reducing child poverty – using any measure – will be good for Māori whānau, given circa one-third live in poverty/hardship. However, we advise that this disproportionally high percentage of Māori children in these circumstances is directly correlated with the high proportion (and number) of Māori sole parents who are welfare reliant. This means tax-credits and greater support for working families etc. will be insufficient to dramatically change Māori child poverty levels (as it is disassociation with the workforce that is a central issue). Accordingly, how the Government’s Families Package may impact on these children – in welfare reliant households – will be key for many Māori whānau. The Treasury is currently reforecasting these projections, and we will advise further once that work is completed.
Tamariki Māori – Our Poverty Estimate
Technical Note: in the debates around child poverty measures, different groups use different measures – which is partially why the Government is resolving this with the introduction of multiple measures in its Bill. For example, prior to the last election the National Party used a count of children living in households that receive less than 50% of the median amount of household disposable income, before housing costs (rent/bank loans, etc.) were considered. However, the Labour Party used a count with two variables changed – firstly those children in households with less than 60% of the median amount of household disposable income, and second, after housing costs (rents, etc.) are accounted for.
In previous Pānui we have considered and advised on the various child poverty measures, and have used the mid-range figure presented in Government research, namely;
those children in households with less than 50% of the medium household income, after housing costs have been deducted.
This presents as suitable in the New Zealand context given housing pressures, and is effectively the middle ground between the views of the two political parties. It is also the method that appears most prominent in Ministry of Social Development research on this topic. Using this method we advise that there are 230,000 children living in poorer households, and we estimate 130,000 are tamariki Māori, based on household ethnic group data. Pānui 33/2016 provides details.
We advise The Treasury is now recalculating how many children will be ‘lifted out of poverty’/impacted on using all measures, once the Government’s Family Package is in place. This is because they got this calculation wrong last year in the lead up to the election, by failing to properly account for the Accommodation Supplement that some families receive. Once their recalculations are done we expect to be able to provide advice on possible numbers of Māori tamariki impacted on by the incoming policy change.
On Wednesday the Leader of the Opposition, Bill English gave his ‘State of the Nation’ speech, which was followed later by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s ‘100 Day Progress’ speech; i.e. the two key opening political speeches for the year.
Overall Mr English’s speech reads as a lamentation – highlighting what he considered where all the good things his party had achieved, and bemoaning that the Labour-led Government might now risk it all, particularly in the areas of employment relations and economic growth. In that respect it was a classic right wing speech about the risks of a left wing Government. Nothing new there.
From a Māori policy perspective two points are salient. First, when Mr English talked of their past successes, he left off progressing Treaty settlements. This is an area where his Government experienced outstanding success, leaving its opposition in shreds, in regards to how many Treaty claims they progressed and settled. Chris Finlayson’s work in this area will be, in our view, the stuff of legend in the future – given he oversaw perhaps 50 plus settlements, and facilitated the package of settlements to extend above $2 billion, and gained cross-party support for this work. However, we note Bill English consistently leaves this out of his speeches: it is as if the National Party is not particularly proud of this achievement, or does not think it appeals to its core supporters.
Our second observation is that Mr English only made one mention of Māori, and it was in a negative context, saying that without the proposed Te Ture Whenua Māori reforms, the New Zealand First policy of planting forests on Māori land is unlikely to succeed. His linkage is not well made, and we note that for generations forests (including Government forests) have been planted on Māori land – i.e. the former reforms are not required for the tree planting scheme to proceed. Overall if this is a ‘State of the Nation’ speech, then Māori are entirely invisible to this political party at this time.
The Prime Minister’s speech followed later in the day, and focused on explaining what they had sought to put in place within their first 100 days, and why, and also what they intend to pursue next. The key focus areas were employment policies, poverty reduction (discussed below), and setting new socio-economic targets to measure the wellbeing of New Zealand, beyond just GDP. In regards to Māori, Prime Minister Ardern, noted the need for politicians to speak openly on challenging social issues of inequalities, such as the high Māori imprisonment rate. She also stated that,
“we are a nation that has duties and responsibilities under the Treaty of Waitangi that extends to, and beyond, the negotiating table. We must be a Government that builds not just relationships, but partnerships with iwi.”
We advise the Prime Minister made similar (but more articulate) comments last week on the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi, but that was to a largely Māori audience who would appreciate that – this week’s speech was aimed at a broader audience. In our assessment this signalling of approach is positive for Māori/iwi, and combined with having a strong Māori caucus it will be interesting to see what this transpires into.