This quarterly review provides a summary of significant Māori focused social, economic and Treaty policy developments for the period 1 April to 30 June 2018.
Within the quarter we reviewed 12 data set publications, 10 research reports, 8 Government policy / legislative issues. Information summaries are provided within the following appendices.
This quarter there have been three Māori focused policy items of salient note:
- Budget 2018/19 reduced specific Māori Development funds – the Finance Minister said this is because Te Puni Kōkiri had not used past money, and that Māori are gaining outcomes elsewhere; whereas the Minister for Māori Development denied (wrongly) that was the Budget reality;
- Whānau Ora is to be externally reviewed – although a Te Puni Kōkiri evaluation released this month of the initiative finds no issues arising; and
- the Government has rejected building a mega prison at Waikeria instead a 500 bed rebuild will be undertaken, linked to a 100 bed secure mental health facility, a policy decision which suggests greater awareness of the significant link between criminal offending and poor mental health.
These items are further discussed below. Further information is available within the appendices and Pānui editions as referenced.
Social Policy Matters
Overview of Socio-Economic Matters
Data released this quarter continues to show ongoing socio-economic disparities presenting between Māori and other New Zealanders, with no significant positive or negative change. Two key statistics for the quarter are that:
- 97,400 Māori (aged 18-64 years) and their household whānau are welfare reliant – this is circa 26% of working age Māori adults; and
- 6% of Māori in the labour force were unemployed, (33,100 people). By comparison, the New Zealand overall unemployment rate was about half of that, at 4.4%
Education Sector Summary
This quarter the New Zealand Qualifications Authority released the 2017 NCEA results; which showed around 74% of Year 12 Māori learners achieved NCEA level 2. This was about the same as the previous year, and ten percentile points below non-Māori. Research and ideas for addressing schooling disparities continued to be tabled, with a discussion on racial bias making it into the official policy papers as one rationale for reforming the school sector.
More positively, new research on literacy shows significant gains across the Māori population over the last decade – with 81% of Māori now having fair or better English language literacy (which is needed for workforce gains). Te Reo literacy is also strong, with Māori school learners found to be enjoying this subject and also out-performing others across the board. This success perhaps links back to the racial bias / differing cultural capital discussion – i.e. if most teachers were Māori and taught subjects such as maths and science from a Māori perspective (as Te Reo is) would the results across the nation be different? Other education items of note:
- The Treasury contributed to the disparity discussion with research that confirmed the obvious conclusion that students who change schools a lot are at educational risk – and they noted Māori more than others are in this grouping;
- the Ministry of Education’s tertiary research analyst released a report that confirms that greater proportions of Māori study at the lower levels in the tertiary education sector (linked to lower school qualifications). The result of the tertiary education outcome is that a qualification disadvantage presents within the workforce thereby suppressing Māori wages and employment opportunities;
- research about the Youth Guarantee initiative was released, which shows the programme is successful in keeping students engaged in education (good), but that links to tertiary level 4 study and industry training / apprenticeships and the like, are not clearly proven (not good). e. whilst these students (many are Māori) undertake trade preparation type courses, the initiative is not actually giving them a direct pathway into employment within the trade sectors.
Health Sector Summary
In the health sector, as always, an assortment of research data was published. This quarter disparities were shown in areas such as tamariki deaths, abortion rates, children with “major social, emotional and/or behavioural problems”, elderly nutrition, colorectal cancer, and non-seat belt wearing car accident deaths. Probably all well intended studies and data sets, but collectively all reflecting the differences in how Māori and non-Māori live so differently within the same geopolitical terra firma.
The key item within the health sector, however, was the announcement of a major review of how services work. We note, in regard to the review, Health Minister David Clark states, “we need to face up to the fact that our health system does not deliver equally well for all. We know our Māori and Pacific peoples have worse health outcomes and shorter lives. That is something we simply cannot accept.” Given the above data, which is relentless every quarter in showing some form of health disparity, in our view the Minister could not be more veridical.
Housing Sector Summary
In the housing sector Minister Phil Twyford (re)announced $63.4 million funding for ‘Housing First Fund’, which is focusing on increasing houses available for vulnerable families. The need for this was also (re)confirmed with the Ministry of Social Development also releasing its public housing quarterly report, to 31 March 2018. The report finds that 36% (23,600-odd) public housing tenants are Māori. That is disproportionately high, given Māori are 15% of the total population. In addition, there is a register of who needs a house and qualify for assistance, but do not have one – of these people we advise 44% are Māori (circa 3,500 tangata.)
Overall this type of data points towards housing being an issue of prominence for Māori – i.e. over 10% of all Māori may be living in or needing state/public housing – compared with about 1% of non-Māori. The next policy action required from this Ministry is to better link this data with sole-parent and gender information, as indicative links with household income data point towards sole-mothers, mainly Māori, being the grouping disproportionately in need.
Justice Sector Summary
There were two key items within the justice sector this quarter of relevance to Māori. First, as above, the Government announced it would not build a mega prison at Waikeria, but it would rebuild a smaller prison, and a 100-bed secure mental health facility. While this is well short of the radical tikanga Māori prison proposal Minister Kelvin Davis broached back when he was in opposition, it is a step towards better recognising the strong link between criminal offending and poor mental health. The Government’s Waikeria decision ties in well with the second item of note: robust research from the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Scientific Advisor showing that early intervention works best in preventing offending. This is partially because young offenders often have mental health issues: for example, alcohol or drug dependencies, which can be addressed early thereby mitigating offending and other social ills. Note also this quarter the Ministry of Health released a research report indicating perhaps 12% of Māori children, around 23,000, may have what they classified as ‘significant social, emotional and/or behavioural problems’.
In our assessment while there has been a known link between criminal offending and health previously, there does appear to be a conceptual shift away from the notion that some people are ‘criminals’ (full stop), towards an understanding that many people who commit offences do so because of a period of poor mental health, which means they do not appropriately regulate their own behaviours. This discussion is particularly important for Māori, as about half of the people incarcerated in New Zealand prisons are Māori, and Māori also have much higher rates of reported mental health issues. Accordingly, the scientific recommendation to focus on mitigation of poor health and behaviour issues early in life does present as a sensible basis for new policies, including the proposal that Māori approaches be used to support Māori tamariki. This in our view is ‘not rocket science’, but it is now published scientific research none the less.
Social Sector Summary
In the social wellbeing sector, as noted above, 97,000 Māori households are welfare reliant. Statistics New Zealand also released data which showed poor households such as these face greater inflation pressures. A link to the increased price of tobacco was made, implying tobacco consumption is detrimental to household finances, not just population health. In addition, funding to reduce family violence was also (re)announced; and The Treasury released a report indicating they are still beavering away somewhere on what wellbeing might actually be; (possibly it will mean having more money to pay the bills, having a home, being free of violence and the like, but they have not landed it just yet). A separate Māori wellbeing framework is also being considered by The Treasury. (We note Whānau Ora contains a solid Māori wellbeing framework, but The Treasury does not acknowledge its existence.)
The annual evaluation of Whānau Ora was released by Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK). We found it to be a weak evaluation report which identified no issues arising and continued to under-explain this initiative. Ironically, that report was released (without a Ministerial forward) just weeks after the Government announced it would review Whānau Ora, and with terms of reference that clearly signals that transparency and accountability are items for improvement. We interpret that as a vote of no-confidence in TPK in this work area. However, perhaps more directly relevant to many Māori whānau (circa one-third) is that this quarter the Government confirmed that it would review the entire welfare system. Quite what this entails is not yet clear.
The major economic item for the quarter is the Government’s Budget, released in May. Overall the Government is forecasting an operating surplus of $3.1 billion, even after taking into account its new spending. But as advised above, for Vote: Māori Development funding is to drop, this year, and every year forecast afterwards. As previously noted Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the drop in Vote: Māori Development reflects programmes that Te Puni Kōkiri did not deliver on being removed from the Budget – so again an implicit vote of no confidence for TPK, which is presenting as somewhat under siege. In his view, however, Māori whānau are estimated to receive $1.5 billion more in services through the Government’s wider programmes, such as the Families Package: however we can see no means for the Government to evidence that estimate.
In our assessment, funds removed from Te Puni Kōkiri will reduce its policy function from this year – effectively retarding its ability to give advice on the impact of mainstream programmes on Māori. This is despite the fact that there are service gaps – i.e. disparities being experienced by Māori in all social areas, including health, education and housing – some of which are shown in the discussion above.
We note there has been no consultation with Māori, and no explanation as to why Māori Development funds went unspent last year. The denials of funding cuts by Ministers Mahuta and Jackson do not help the situation. In short, the Labour Party holds all seven Māori electoral seats in Parliament and has the largest number of Māori members of Cabinet than at any time previously. At both Ratana and Waitangi Day earlier this year the Government indicated it would increase Māori services, so it follows some Māori voters may feel betrayed by this Budget, and particularly by the Minister for Māori Development, Nanaia Mahuta, who so far has tabled no clear initiatives nor policy plan for Māori Development. The pressure will be on her to deliver something in next year’s Budget; and she will also need to either express a higher level of confidence in Te Puni Kōkiri or to propose something better.
Pānui also reviewed other Vote areas in regard to Māori specific funding. Information is provided in the appendices: there were no radical changes of note.
Other Economic Matters
Six other economic matters of note are listed below.
- The consultancy firm TDB Advisory released a report summarising the financial performance of eight iwi, from 2011 to 2017. The iwi groups are Ngāi Tahu, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Whātua o Ōrakei, Rangitāne o Wairau, Raukawa, Ngāi Tūhoe and Waikato-Tainui. All have made money, a few have made lots of money (e.g. Waikato-Tainui had a strong financial year), with very good returns on their investments.
- The Productivity Commission released a draft report on climate change, proposing new legislation and a new Commission to assist future Governments achieve a low emission economy. For Māori they suggest a Treaty of Waitangi clause would be useful for incoming legislation, combined with some type of Māori advisory committee.
- The Ministry for the Environment also published work on climate change, with a report from its technical working group being released. This group has a range of recommendations to reduce emissions, and for Māori specifically they suggest the Government “commission mātauranga Māori-led measures that reflect cultural impacts of climate change and are developed and managed by iwi/hapū”.
- The Land and Water Forum released a new report focusing on how to prevent degradation of water quality, particularly sediment and nitrogen pollutants. In relation to Māori, the Forum repeats its views that Māori interests in water (i.e. any proprietary and usage rights) are in their ‘too-hard’ basket, and thus the Crown needs to address such matters directly. They point out the current situation is creating uncertainty which undermines long term investment decisions needed to improve water quality. Hence their recommendation that “Central government must, as a priority, work with iwi to reach agreement on how to resolve rights and interests in fresh water.”.
- The Government announced that the offshore block offers for oil and gas exploration permits will end (i.e. no new offers to be made). The block offer was an annual tender process established by the former National led Government that allowed for oil and gas companies to bid for permits. Many iwi groups had petitioned about oil exploration in their respective off-shore areas.
- The Government has announced it is reviewing consumer credit regulations, of interest as Māori are identified as one grouping at risk – which is no surprise given the high percentage of welfare reliance noted above.
Waitangi Tribunal Matters
This quarter the Waitangi Tribunal released its report on its Whakatōhea Mandate Inquiry. The Tribunal found the Crown breached the Treaty of Waitangi by prioritising its objective of seeking to conclude a Treaty settlement over processes that were fair to the hapū groupings within Whakatōhea. Thus the decision to recognise the pre-settlement Trust mandate was found not to be fair, reasonable or made in good faith. This is consistent with the Tribunal’s view in other areas: that mandate issues, including hapū consent must be satisfactorily resolved before the Crown pushes ahead with negotiations.
This quarter Parliament made progress with five Treaty settlements; with two of these reaching conclusion and thus becoming law. The groupings were:
- Ngāti Rangi (legislation introduced to Parliament);
- Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Tamaoho (both had respective second readings);
- Heretaunga Tamatea and Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki both had their respective third readings – thereby concluding these two settlements of circa $100 million and $13 million respectively.
Government and Parliamentary Matters
In addition to the above sector issues, we note three further Parliamentary matters of note this quarter.
- Adding to the Treaty settlement concerns of Whakatōhea, the Minister for Māori Development has advised she has asked for an independent review of the governance and management of the Whakatōhea Trust Board;
- A Bill to entrench Māori electoral seats was introduced to Parliament.
- Referenda were held by five local bodies in regard to the establishment of Māori wards – in all cases the notion of Māori wards was rejected by voters. This situation of predominantly non-Māori voters determining how Māori voters may be represented within local Government presents to us as manifestly unjust. The matter is discussed within Pānui 15/2018.
 This data is from Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Social Development data sets.
 It will drop by $2 million in the year ahead (even after setting aside all extraordinary increases this year), and by $17 million over the next four years.
 Their answers to Parliamentary Questions have been provided in Pānui so that subscribers can determine for themselves the integrity of the responses given to challenging questions.
 The Ngāti Porou Bill relates to marine and foreshore matters.