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Māori news stories for the week ending 17 February 2012

  • On Tuesday four hectares of land was gifted back to Ngāti Te Whiti iwi by the Methodist Church and the Grey Institute Trust.  The iwi sold the land to the church during the mid 1800’s.
  • On Monday the High Court trial began for the ‘Urewera Four’.  The ‘Urewera Four’ are some of original eighteen people (predominately Māori) whom were arrested in 2007 on terrorism charges.  The terrorism charges have since been found to be unwarranted, and have been replaced with a range of firearms charges. 
  • The University of Otago is to conduct an oral health study delivered through the Waikato/ Tainui iwi tribal health provider Raukura Hauora, in partnership with Ngāi Tahu.  The study will receive up to $2.4 million from the New Zealand Health Research Council, and it is part of the International Collaboration of Indigenous Oral Health Research.
  • The Cancer Society has developed (with assistance from Māori health providers), Kia ora – E te iwi; a kaupapa Māori cancer education and support programme.
  • The Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, met with iwi representatives this week and confirmed plans to increase the responsiveness of education provision to Māori.
  • Last weekend the Waikato-Tainui parliament, Te Kauhanganui, held elections for its executive board, Te Arataura.  Four new representatives have been elected on to the board.  They are: Hemi Rau (former Chief Executive dismissed in 2009); Tom Roa (former Te Kauhanganui chairman), Tipa Mahuta, and Marae Tukere.  Tukuroirangi Morgan, who has been the chair of Te Arataura since 2006, missed being re-elected by a narrow margin.  Mr Morgan is disputing results, and intends to file legal action.

Mana Party: manifesto commitments: omnibus excerpt

Mana Party – Māori focused matters

Despite its relative newness, the Mana Party has developed twelve broad policy platforms, all of which take into account specific Māori interests.  These policies, and salient features, are highlighted in the table that follows.

Mana Party Notes – salient aspects of Māori-focused policy proposals
Livelihoods and Economic Justice policies Abolish GST, and replace with a transaction tax, to increase Government tax revenue; introduce a requirement for all SoE and Māori corporate entities to prioritise the employment of New Zealanders, or face financial penalties; increase the minimum wage
Treaty Settlement policy (Draft) Increasing resourcing to the Waitangi Tribunal and empower the Tribunal to make binding decisions; establish an independent Treaty of Waitangi Commissioner; increase the value of treaty settlements by removing the ‘full and final’ aspect of existing settlements
Welfare and housing policies Provide a $1,000 one-off grant to all earning less than $30,000 before 25 December 2011; raise welfare payment levels, build 20,000 new state houses in two years
Te Reo Rangatira – Te Reo Māori policy Establish an independent Te Reo Māori Authority, elected by Māori to administer all government funding in this sector; target is for all New Zealanders to speak Māori by 2040
Education policy Free early childhood education; reduce costs of tertiary study; fund Māori providers (wānanga) as Treaty partners
Health and Disability Issues policies Reduce access to tobacco; ban the advertising of alcohol; community veto on ‘pokie’ machines; free medical care for under 16s and senior citizens; free family planning and contraceptive advice
Environment and Energy policy Iwi and hapū to have decision-making powers in local government environmental policy (and be resourced for this), ban deep-sea oil drilling; stop the partial sale of State-owned Enterprises

 

A number of these policies are similar to other parties that are positioned on the political left (e.g. increase the minimum wage, Māori representation at local government, increases in support for those in receipt of welfare, etc).  The unique stand-out feature, however, is that the Mana Party proposes that these initiatives be funded through a new transaction taxation system, with GST being abolished altogether. 

In our assessment, overall the Mana Party proposals suffer from the same lack of resource considerations as the Green Party. That is, no costings and little implementation information is provided, which shifts ideas away from robust policy analysis, and towards the realm of political platitudes.  For example, the Party’s most radical suggestion, a new transaction tax, has no research or evidence-base published with it.  This means it is entirely unclear how this might function to replace the $15 billion per annum the Government receives in GST payments.  A second example is that there are no details on how existing ‘full and final’ treaty settlements might be amended.

Mana Party – economic and social policies of interest

Within specific Māori economic areas, we are unconvinced that the Mana Party proposal to impose financial penalties on Māori corporate entities (iwi-owned companies) that do not first employ New Zealanders is neither required, fair nor useful, in improving productivity.  In our view, placing more restraints on Māori entities than others will actually disadvantage those Māori interests.

In the social policy realm, we note the Mana Party is alone in prompting the replacement of The Māori Language Commission with an independent, Māori-elected Te Reo Authority.  In our assessment, policy changes in this area are long overdue.  As discussed more fully previously (pānui 29 April 2011), there is little justification for current arrangements, where Māori have such limited say in this sector.  The current Māori Language Commission is a Crown Entity, and Māori/iwi have no formal role in the appointment process, nor in directing its business planning or language services.  Accordingly, in our assessment, the Mana Party is ahead of other parties in giving this matter greater consideration. (Although the Mana Party target of 100% of New Zealanders speaking Māori within three decades does read as overly ambitious). 

From week ending 11 November 2011

Green Party – manifesto commitments: omnibus excerpt

Green Party Māori focused matters

This election the Green Party is the only ‘mainstream’ political party to produce clear Māori specific policy.  It is noteworthy that both National and Labour have, since the last election, jettisoned specific Māori-related policy documentation.  We consider the size of the Māori voting electorate (15%), and the significance of issues (constitutional reform, treaty settlements, etc), to be sufficient to warrant policy views from all three of these larger political parties.

The Green Party has identified twelve key principles which lead to five ‘policy points’.  These policy areas are noted in the table below, along with salient aspects of the proposals.

Green Party – Māori Policy Salient aspects of the proposed policy
Respecting Rangatiratanga Legislative recognition of the Māori language version of the Treaty of Waitangi; entrenchment of Māori seats in parliament; new processes for Māori engagement in local government
Affirming and supporting Kaitiakitanga Rejecting the use of conservation land for Treaty settlements; processes for shared guardianship (with iwi) of natural heritage
Ensuring Access to Economic Prosperity Focus on increasing Māori employment levels via ‘sustainable’ employment; protection of Māori cultural intellectual property
Supporting Whaungatanga Māori language to be taught more in schools and within the wider community, whānau interactions with schools to be improved, Māori (restorative) justice initiatives to be advanced, recognition of the leadership role of Māori wahine
Health as Taonga ‘build capacity of Māori to manage their own health’; support rongoa Māori practitioners; greater funding for Māori health initiatives

 Overall the emphasis within the Green Party documentation is for greater Government resources to be spent on Māori areas of interest (for example Māori language, rongoa, etc);, and for increased Māori autonomy and representation (e.g. local government representation, restorative justice, etc).  We note most of these ideas have the potential to improve the wellbeing of Māori.  However we also note the documentation does not provide any actual quantitative measures for these ideas (e.g. how much more Te Reo in schools), and most importantly, it does not provide an estimate of resource to be set aside to achieve these outcomes. In our assessment, political parties that are serious about their policies provide ‘projected’ costings, and seek to demonstrate how they will reallocate resources or increase revenue to accommodate their proposed initiatives.  Because the Green Party does not do this with its specific Māori-focused policy the actual statements read closer to ‘wish list’ ideas rather than an actual policy programme.

We also note that the Green Party’s strong environmental focus permeates throughout its Māori-policy, and this has the effect of portraying Māori interests in a particular light – typically as ‘kaitiaki’ (guardians/carers) only on resource matters.  This is narrow, and ignores the diversity of Māori interests, including Māori industry developments and agricultural activities (refer to the Ngāi Tahu farming article below as an example).  This limitation extends to Treaty matters, with the Green Party indicating that they see Crown Conservation land as sacrosanct, and unavailable for settlement redress (regardless of how it was sourced); and that iwi and hapū have rights under the Treaty of Waitangi to manage their resources “within the constraints of sustainability”.   While this might be a good idea, we are fairly certain this concept is not contained within either linguistic version of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Green Party – economic and social proposals of interest

The Green Party’s key social policy proposal is to reduce child poverty, which is estimated at 235,000 children.  You will be aware from the pānui of 16 September, that financial hardship is disproportionally affecting significant numbers of Māori children (potentially circa 90,000).  Accordingly the Green Party social policy framework is focused on an issue of direct interest to Māori.

Proposals for reducing financial hardship for families include: (i) extending Working for Families tax credits to beneficiary families, (ii) increasing training opportunities for sole parents, (iii) raising the minimum wage, and (iv) creating health standards for rental properties.  To pay for this social programme, the Green Party proposes the creation of 100,000 new jobs within the renewable energy sector (with tax takes from these jobs creating Government revenue).  For example, the Party believes 20,000 new jobs can be created by extending the home insulation programme, and rebuilding in Christchurch, and a further 20,000 can be created in bio-fuel creation.  Consistent with other political parties, there is insufficient data to review this in full, but on the surface, these jobs creation numbers appear exceedingly optimistic.

From week ending 11 November 2011

Medical Council looks to boost Māori doctor numbers

The Medical Council says a long term fix is needed to get more Māori into the health professions.
The council’s latest workforce survey found that while Māori make up around 15 percent of the population, the proportion of Māori doctors dropped in the past three years by point one percent to 3 percent.


Its chair, John Adams says the problem needs to be tackled at both the secondary and tertiary level. “The issue starts well before medical school in secondary school in the subjects that Māori students are taking, in the expectations about whether they can get in to medical school and about what happens when they get university in their first year and both universities are doing quite a bit to try and understand, to try to change that and to try to increase the number of Māori not only in medicine but across the health sciences,” Dr Adams says.