“Reached the limits of what Government can do”

Comments made by Bill English in his speech at Ratana suggesting that Government had “reached the limits of what Government can do” have been criticised, but I think he makes a valid point.

ODT reported:

In a 10-minute speech which included a brief Te Reo introduction, Mr Little also criticised Prime Minister Bill English’s comments at Ratana yesterday. Mr English told Ratana members to “reawaken the spirit of enterprise” among Maori because Government had “reached the limits of what government can do – government grants, programmes, more public servants.”

Mr Little responded: “I come here to say that’s an abdication of leadership and an abdication of the responsibility of Government.”

But Andrea Vance at 1 News reported more detail: PM Bill English tells elders at Ratana the Government isn’t abandoning Maori

Andrea Vance: Both Mr English and the church seem to be in tune over pulling Maori out of poverty.

Bill English: Somehow along the way we have reached the limits of what Government can do, the limits of Government grants, programmes, more public servants.


And what I see around the country, and I think it’s obvious now to every New Zealander, is this burgeoning spirit of enterprise.

Piri Rurawhe (Ratana Church Secretary): That’s always been a whakauru (?) of Ratana. We need to help ourselves before we can help anyone else, and we like that whakauru.

Andrea Vance: Mr English says the Government isn’t abandoning Maori.

Bill English: Government is learning much better how to work with the people who know the people.

Apart from the overdone platitude ‘every New Zealander’ I think English makes a lot of sense here.

We can’t sit back and expect the Government to fix everything. It is often far more effective if the Government helps and encourages communities and families to help themselves as much as possible.

Obviously some Government assistance, funding and interventions are necessary, but people – individuals, families and communities – need to take responsibility for their own problems.

Solutions cannot easily or effectively be imposed, they have to be wanted, and those with problems (with some exceptions) ultimately need to address and resolve them themselves as much as possible.

There is only so much Government can do. Recognising this is important. I think English is on the right track here.

Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  26th January 2017

    I would imagine the vast bulk of kiwis agree with English that while we are happy to help people in need their is an ongoing generational issue in certain communities that despite 10s of billions under various governments some people wont take advantage of that and help themselves.
    Little has a tin ear but like Cunliffe before him is completely in tune with the exceptionally narrow views of their party activists.

    • Gezza

       /  26th January 2017

      Little underestimates Maori.

      • In my experience that is a trait that has developed on the left these last couple of decades.

        Beggared if I know why they still vote for them

      • MAori underestimate Maori as well Gezza….they were sharp and entrepreneurial back in the day. Hongi Hika organised a massive commercial operation in the North in the early 1800’s to fun his war machine….

        The are other examples back in the day and now… its a pity this guys and girls aren’t in local high schools saying Yes You Can

        • Gezza

           /  26th January 2017

          “Hongi Hika organised a massive commercial operation … in the early 1800’s to fund his war machine….”

          Everybody does that.

          • May chance they do. But where did the trading nouse go? Getting defensive and passive aggressive Gez doesn’t address the issue of self starting and entrepreneurial zeal in Maori…

            • Gezza

               /  26th January 2017

              Exactly dave. So stop doing it please. And if it really bothers you see what you can do to figure out if & how people like you could maybe help?

            • ooooh reversal? you have all the tricks Gezza…..

              But on the topic – Does it bother me? To watch simple people manipulated by those who claim rangatira status while lining their pockets. A wee bit. But that’s the tikanga neh? Not for me to change the culture – needs to come from within

            • Gezza

               /  26th January 2017

              It’s not meant to be a trick dave. I admire successful people & wish I had your economic & business skill set amongst mine. I teach anyone who loves my guitar playing & wants to learn, for nothing, because I like to play music with others & encourage anybody who wants to learn, especially youngsters. Some of them have far exceeded my guitaring skills already & can even read music, which I can’t – got too proficient playing by ear & feel & it slows me down too much & frustrates me, & I don’t need to because it’s made me money & I just enjoy it anyway.

              I like to think I’d be the same with business skills if I had them. But that’s just me. Pete, a Maori boy neighbour, taught me to play the first few songs & chords on my beloved guitars. He charged me nothing.

            • @ dave1924 – “But where did the trading nouse go?”

              For someone who claims to have a fairly thorough knowledge of Aotearoa NZ’s history dave, this is an extraordinarily dumb-and-dumber thing to say … knowledge sans understanding …

              It was beaten out of them by ‘defeat’ in war – a highly conditional term – followed by land-grabbing legislation, disenfranchisement, violence wreaked upon their peaceful protest and self-sufficiency efforts, Pakeha education and thousands of other ways … by the attempted destruction of their language and culture …

              Suddenly they’re supposed to make a miraculous recovery to instantly achieve “self starting and entrepreneurial zeal” … and still ONLY on Pakeha terms …

              Absolute *CROC* !!!

            • Oh Parti – you never fail to deliver exactly the standard leftie line – it was all those whiteys fault…. The CROC around here is you and you’re total full of it.

              Keep on keep on it Parti…. Gezza has taught me well to set the hook and wait for the bite, but when you’re swimming the seas it doesn’t need to subtle just cast the lien and watch the bait be bolted down.

              Now I have you suitable energised – how is business on paheka terms? business is business baby everywhere all over the world with a few subtle interpersonal negotiation strategy differences – Americans direct to the point, Chinese and Japanese its all about the relationship, English toned down and classy direct and to the point….. Maori fit in easily if they want. So why not expect a few notable examples. hell it can be whanau based – heaps of european businesses are as well. just because you have a major CORPORATE hang up doesn’t mean that is the way the whole world runs.

              So go on stun me with a thought insight into Maori business approaches in the 21 st century…

            • Gezza

               /  26th January 2017

              As PZ once said, ‘troughers here, troughers there, troughers everywhere.’

              On the issue of some kaumatua & Rangatira lining their pockets, yes, I’m sure that happens, & that the tikanga & kaupapa sometimes has aided & abetted that, and also enabled bad economic & business decisions to be made by those with customary mana whose decisions are based on the perceived friendship & relationship with people whose investment & business propsals were unsound.

              Tikanga is not fixed forever, as I understand it. The more young & trained people in the hapu & iwi who can & will demand to be permitted to evaluate & advise decision-makers on such matters, the better, imo.

              But I am just another pakeha, telling Maori what to do. So I don’t lose sight of the fact it’s not up to me, or that I may not understand what prevents this. There are certainly Maori who do, and who want to chabge things,

            • Nice to see you fuming again dave1924 …

              “business is business baby everywhere all over the world with a few subtle interpersonal negotiation strategy differences”

              A measure of your extreme pathological Euro-centred-ness dave. Of course, the only possible form of ‘business’ activity is the one ‘Whitey’ has forced upon the whole world on the back of slavery, christianity and colonisation …

              “We know what the problem with biculturalism is. The problem is White people and their supremacist beliefs …” – Danny Butt 2005

              One possibility – trade using an alternative currency …
              Another – Slow trade …

              Just throwing out thoughts and ideas … you know ….
              Well, no, you don’t …

              Maori don’t even need to trade to face the major problem of Pakeha (which means ‘other’ or non-Maori) expropriation of their icons, symbols, visuals and cultural treasures …

            • This “A measure of your extreme pathological Euro-centred-ness dave” is truly your most humourous contribution to date…

              You again prove what a complete “sew a field” wit you arewith yet another unhinged racial attack.

              You didn’t read what I said did you and if you did the fact your meds hadn’t kicked in or were wearing off dulled your comprehension.

              I highlighted the difference in global trade practice but, no PnZ has the low flying jet experience and goes of on another I hate myself cause I’m european rant – and projects bitterness and racial superiority complexes on others to compensate for the extreme dysfunction you find yourself in.

              If I didn’t believe you were a little unwell – I would be quite unkind to you…

              As for claim a definition of Pakeha – it means something quite, quite different in Wainuiomata PnZ. Normally that some unhinge Maori wants to smash your face in for having temerity to be breathing and being european.. just as well I have Maori mates around most of the time, so never comes to anything…

            • Gezza

               /  27th January 2017


              “So why not expect a few notable examples. hell it can be whanau based – heaps of european businesses are as well. just because you have a major CORPORATE hang up doesn’t mean that is the way the whole world runs.”

              Don’t think you addressed this. What’s your thinking here? I believe this should be possible in a number of ways – family businesses, hapu co-operatives. Used to work like that.

            • My thinking here is Maori can easily engage in business, and many do, in a family centric model that centralises on the things traditional associated with the core of Maori values: whanau, whanau, whanau – then Iwi, Iwi, Iwi – rohhe, rohe, rohe. At its core its no different to traditional European, Asain, African models – it is just expressed differently via the cultural formulation particular to a people, in a place, with a technology set, evolving over a period of time.
              Most businesses in NZ are SME’s, often family owned and operated. Those are the business types that Maori Economic Development Types should be targeting for help. Imagine: MEDT personnel look around their region and identify long standing and successful businesses. Good men and woman running honest business well – treating staff well, treating customers well, treating IRD well [by paying on time in full], turning profits. Leverage treaty settlements funds by asking for those businesses to take on interns at no cost to the business – the Iwi pays them instead. Place young Maori men and women with those companies – guarantee any compensation for damage done by the odd bad apple – more as a expectation over irde tool than something that will really be needed, and ask for them to be skilled in estimating, customer service, budgeting, sales planning and marketing, supply chain management including very importantly supplier negotiation and inventory management, business plan writing with a view to managing the bank manager/financier, debt to equity management, planning for growth etc etc all the things and more you need to run your own business

              After 2 years or so, out pop young Maori men and woman with an understanding and training [on the job training which could be supplemented with uni/polytech business course if desired] ready to identify opportunities leveraging their Iwi’s tikanga or their regions natural resources…

              just an idea…. now wait for PnZ to come slavering in and start abusing me again : )

        • PDB

           /  26th January 2017

          Ironic the govt is expected to shoulder the blame for all Maori problems whilst only around 1% of Maori benefit from the many treaty settlement payouts.

          God helps those who help themselves – time for the Maori leadership (a ‘very’ loose term) to stop bickering amongst themselves, step up and help their people (especially urban Maori) rather than just leave it up to the govt.

          John Tamihere;

          “Māori were caught up in a class system which magnified the issue, and while the government was responsible for addressing social issues, it was time for iwi leaders to step up and take care of their people, Mr Tamihere said.

          “And if they don’t wake up the urban Māori whānau will start taking them to court to get them to ensure that they meet their obligations, duties and responsibilities as our stewards of our assets.

          “We don’t want them to make another billions dollars and make out that we don’t exist anymore.

          “That’s a pretty harsh message, if they don’t like it who cares, they owe obligations and duties to the street.”

          The first treaty settlements were signed 22 years ago and both those iwi, Ngāi Tahu and Tainui/Waikato, have grown their asset bases to over a billion dollars each.

          Mr Tamihere said those within iwi who controlled the chequebooks needed to honour their obligations and their duties to their beneficiaries”.


          • JT speaks some sense at time I have to admit. He sees the rotten structure that the Clan and Tribe structure is in a modern world of disperse populations. And he is somewhat right pointing the bone at those seeking to resort rangatira pride of place at the expense of mere rank and file maori

  2. Generally speaking we’ve barely scratched the surface of what government can do … although I mean that very idealistically … ” …[present day] ‘State morality’ is by no means a necessary logical consequence of the State idea. A State can be imagined the conduct of which would satisfy the most stringent demands of morality [and ethics]” (Warner)

    Specifically regards Maori, I’d say we reached the 135 year limits of what successive Pakeha governments could negatively inflict upon Maori around 1975, coincident with the Hikoi and establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal …

    Since then gruelling progress has been made with Treaty Principles, enlarging the scope of the Tribunal, Treaty Settlements and their associated socio-economic investments … ie SeaLord, Maori radio and television … etc etc …

    However, if we take 1840 as a baseline of power sharing and call it 10 : 10 Maori : Pakeha – which is actually being incredibly generous to Pakeha who were outnumbered 100,000+ to 2000-odd or 50+ to 1 – then perhaps today Maori have gotten back to what? 10 : 2.5 or 10 : 3? Or am I being overly generous … ?

    I’d dearly love to know what Maori people felt of my speculations …?

    Tamihere’s probably right about some iwi meeting obligations to their beneficiaries …

    I note there’s a massive, automatic ‘default’ expectation Maori SHOULD share &/or trickle-down in a ‘socialist’ sort of way …. like we assume their society should be Georgist … while such ideas are anathema to the current ‘leaders’ of Pakeha society …

    • The ‘ratios’ should of course be the other way around …

      Maori have gotten back to 2.5 : 10 or 3 : 10 Maori : Pakeha


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s