Shift from targeting Maori to targeting the poverty

Bryce Edwards looks at a shift in Government shifting from race-based (Maori) targeting to a more universal approach to dealing with poverty, but they say that as Maori feature in the deprivation statistics they should benefit the most.

Is this related to Winston Peters’ past attacks on Whanau Ora, with Labour now quietly accommodating his preference away from targeting Maori? Where do the Greens stand? Quietly on the sideline?

NZ Herald: The real political controversy of Waitangi 2018

Lost amongst the focus on BBQs, relentless positivity, and eloquent speeches at Waitangi, a fascinating and important shift in Government-Maori relations appeared to be underway. Labour and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have been signalling that this Government is departing from the traditional culturalist and “race-based” approach to dealing with Maori deprivation and economic inequality.

Instead, a more universal, economic-focused method will be used. The conventional approach of advancing Maori aspirations was epitomised by the Maori Party’s focus on culture, race, and sovereignty issues, and it appears to be on the way out.

Heralding what may be a highly controversial approach to “closing the gaps” in terms of Maori inequality, Jacinda Ardern made her most important speech at Waitangi by stating that the new Government would take a universalistic approach to inequality – by targeting everyone at the bottom, rather than specifically targeting Maori.

Jacinda Ardern strongly emphasised the need to deal with the long list of social ills that have a disproportionate impact on Maori, but signalled that race-based methods were not the best way of moving forward.

Since then, the Finance Minister has confirmed this shift in approach to dealing with inequality. In an interview with Morning Report’s Guyon Espiner on Wednesday, Grant Robertson responded to questions about whether the Government would specifically target Maori in its programmes, saying: “Our focus is on reducing inequality overall” – you can listen to the six-minute interview here: Global market dive: Grant Robertson optimistic.

Espiner sought clarification: “So there won’t be a specific Closing the Gaps type programme that we saw under Helen Clark? We’re not looking at heading off down that path?” Robertson replied: “That’s not the approach that we are taking. But we believe that we will be able to lift a significant number of Maori out of poverty, and increase employment outcomes, because of the approach we are taking.”

Robertson went on to explain that the Government would keep some targeted funding for Maori, but stressed that a more universal approach would dominate:

“Maori will benefit disproportionally from the families package – from those payments, because at the moment, unfortunately, Maori appear in those negative statistics. We’ve got a range of programmes coming down the line that will support Maori and the wider population as well. Where it’s appropriate, where there are programmes – particularly in an area like Corrections – where we know that we can have a real impact on that Maori prison population, then we’ll have a look at them.

“Similarly, with employment programmes. But in the end, Guyon, this is about reducing inequality overall. It’s about providing opportunities for all young people – and we know that Maori will benefit more from that, because unfortunately they are in those negative statistics.”

Essentially, this new approach means directing resources and solutions to poor Maori “because they are poor” rather than “because they are Maori”.

This isn’t popular with some Labour Maori:

In RNZ interviews following on from Robertson’s, both Willie Jackson and John Tamihere reacted negatively against the notion that the Government was shifting in this direction – you can listen to the interviews with Jackson and Tamihere.

Jackson is a Labour MP.

Nor with the Maori ‘elite’:

The Government’s shift away from focusing on iwi property rights has also been signaled by Regional Development Minister Shane Jones. Sam Sachdeva reports: “Whereas English and his predecessor John Key seemed to focus on Article Two of the Treaty of Waitangi and property rights, Jones says the new government will have a greater emphasis on Article Three and the entitlements, rights and obligations of citizenship” – see: A fresh start at Waitangi?.

This might all end up in legal fights. 1News has obtained the letter from iwi leaders to the prime minister complaining about their change in direction, and threatening Supreme Court action if iwi rights to freshwater were not addressed – see TVNZ: Iwi leaders unhappy issues like water ownership aren’t on new Government’s radar.

An interesting observation:

There was nothing about this in the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement.

I wonder what the Greens think. And I wonder how much they have been consulted.

From Green policy: “We would continue to support and strengthen Whānau Ora”

‘Māori Appreciation Day’ not appreciated

While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was doing her best to engage with and improve relationships with Māori at Waitangi, Bob Jones seems to have tried his worst to stir up racial abuse and division in an article published at NBR but since taken down from their online publication.

I think that what Jones wrote was clearly in appalling bad taste. I have mixed feelings about ‘free speech’ connotations. Sometimes it may be best to allow a divisive fool to be seen for a fool, but NBR had a right to act in the face of scathing criticism however it chose.

The Spinoff: Bob Jones and NBR divorce over ‘Māori Appreciation Day’ column

Bob Jones will be filing no more for the National Business Review after the deletion of his most recent contribution, which included a call for an annual “Māori Appreciation Day” and sparked online disgust, was pulled from the paper’s website.

The inciting passage in the property magnate and polemicist’s “Bits and Bobs” column, which carried the subheading “Time for a troll”, argued, “as there are no full-blooded Māoris in existence it indisputably follows that had it not been for migrants, mainly Brits, not a single Māori alive today … would have existed”. Ergo, he continued, “it’s long overdue for some appreciation. I have in mind a public holiday where Māori bring us breakfast in bed or weed our gardens, wash and polish our cars and so on, out of gratitude for existing.”

Not surprisingly there was a strong response on social media. After comments like that Jones was a fair target.

And also not surprisngly Jones is unrepentant.

NBR’s removal of the column from its site was “right up there with Trudeau re wetness”, Jones told the Spinoff in an email.

“What I wrote is factually indisputable, namely that no Māori alive today would exist had it not been for (mainly) European migrations, given, we’re told, there are no 100% pure Māori any more.”

“As a result I shan’t bother writing any more for NBRwhich I only did at the owner’s request to help them out. I’ve certainly got better things to do with my time.”

It wouldn’t be difficult doing better things than that, even for Jones.

A senior source at the NBR told the Spinoff the controversial passage was “part of a wider column which was clearly satire”, but it caused “misgivings” among staff. The source said that had it been “one piece, just on that topic” the NBR would not have run it. Editors had, however,  “listened to feedback and responded”, and now regarded its publication as an “error of judgement”.

Just as free speech enables people to say what they like in public, as long as they can get it by lax editors, NBR has a right to admit “error of judgement” and take down the column, albeit after considerable damage was done to it’s reputation.

In what appears to be a different version of events to Jones’ statement that “I shan’t bother writing any more for NBR”, the source at the publication said the decision to terminate the column was made at its end, and communicated with Jones in a telephone conversation.

A separate NBR source told the Spinoff that “Approximately 100% of NBR editorial staff” would approve of the column’s discontinuation.

Closing the stable door after an embarrassing has bolted.

The NBR stable is generally well respected as an independent niche publication, and seems to manage well on a subscription model. It may well be that some of it’s subscriptions were at threat over the Jones column.

NBR’s reputation has certainly taken a hit.

Addressing unemployment stressed by factions

Shane Jones’ push for ‘work-for-the-dole’ schemes to get people off couches and into work has highlighted a number factions that put stress on any policy making and implementing.

The factions include:

  • NZ First Party
  • Labour Party
  • Maori MPs
  • Unions
  • Green Party

Jacinda Ardern has to somehow try to manage all of their interests and mould it into an effective policy to address generational unemployment, especially Maori unemployment.

Richard Harman at Politik: Willie Jackson: Working for dole won’t work

Employment Minister Willie Jackson says he shares Shane Jones’ passion to get Maori unemployment down and he has proposed a package of measures in a paper to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to address the issue.

He met Jones yesterday and agreed to incorporate some of Jones’ ideas in his paper.

But he says he stops short at Jones’ “work for the dole” proposals.

And he says that idea would never be accepted by Labour or “the boss” – Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

An idea that also wouldn’t be acceptable to unions, which Labour rely on for funding and support.

Jones’ language was probably provoked by a desire by NZ First to brand themselves as distinct to Labour.

But the imperative for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is to maintain a seamless unity between Labour and NZ First.

And the Maori caucus and the unions.

So at her post-Cabinet press conference yesterday she said that what Jones was calling “work for the dole”, Labour was calling “ready for work.”

We are essentially talking about the same thing,” she said.

Asked about Jones’ proposal to end dole payments if unemployed didn’t take up jobs she said there already was a sanctions regime in the welfare system.

“That’s provided us with the tools to ensure that people do take up the job opportunities that are available to them.”

The Green Party is strongly opposed to sanctions, another complicating factor.

Jackson though wants to see an employment strategy which strengthens communities and provides real jobs.

“You don’t fix unemployment by following Jonesy’s idea and chucking a few Maori out there cutting scrub for a few months,” he told POLITIK.

“You have to create a real job, jobs with dignity, by forming relationships with local Maori, with trade unions, with businesses.

But these are only minor differences between the two Maori MPs.

“I can work hand and hand with Jonesy,” said Jackson.

“The thing is we have seen inter generational unemployment; both of us.

“I’ve seen it in the urban sense, he’s seen it in the north.

“We are both of the same mind and the same sentiment. It’s just Jonesy has got his own way of expressing things.

“But his sentiment is right; his passion is right, but we have to be careful that we are not penalising our own.

“We came into this Government to offer hope to our people.”

‘Our people’ being Maori people, who have three times the unemployment rate of non-Maori. Jackson and Jones are capable of putting their interests ahead of their parties, but need the MPs of three parties to back their schemes to get people into work.

It will be a challenge, especially with the politics involved, but some sort of solutions need to be tried.

 

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – 100 Māori words

From NZ History: 100 Māori words every New Zealander should know

The marae

  • Hui meeting, conference, gathering
  • Marae the area for formal discourse in front of a meeting house; or the whole marae complex, including meeting house, dining hall, forecourt, etc.
  • Haere mai! Welcome! Enter!
  • Nau mai! Welcome!
  • Tangihanga funeral ceremony in which a body is mourned on a marae
  • Tangi short (verbal version) for the above; or to cry, to mourn
  • Karanga the ceremony of calling to the guests to welcome them onto the marae
  • Manuhiri guests, visitors
  • Tangata whenua original people belonging to a place, local people, hosts
  • Whaikōrero the art and practice of speech making
  • Kaikōrero or kaiwhai kōrero speaker (there are many other terms)
  • Haka chant with dance for the purpose of challenge (see other references to haka on this site)
  • Waiata song or chant which follows a speech
  • Koha gift, present (usually money, can be food or precious items, given by guest to hosts)
  • Whare nui meeting house; sometimes run together as one word – wharenui
  • Whare whakairo carved meeting house
  • Whare kai dining hall
  • Whare paku lavatory, toilet
  • Whare horoi ablution block, bathroom

Concepts

  • Aroha compassion, tenderness, sustaining love
  • Ihi power, authority, essential force
  • Mana authority, power; secondary meaning: reputation, influence
  • Manaakitanga respect for hosts or kindness to guests, to entertain, to look after
  • Mauri hidden essential life force or a symbol of this
  • Noa safe from tapu (see below), non-sacred, not tabooed
  • Raupatu confiscate, take by force
  • Rohe boundary, a territory (either geographical or spiritual) of an iwi or hapū
  • Taihoa to delay, to wait, to hold off to allow maturation of plans, etc.
  • Tapu sacred, not to be touched, to be avoided because sacred, taboo
  • Tiaki to care for, look after, guard (kaitiaki: guardian, trustee)
  • Taonga treasured possession or cultural item, anything precious
  • Tino rangatiratanga the highest possible independent chiefly authority, paramount authority, sometimes used for sovereignty
  • Tūrangawaewae a place to stand, a place to belong to, a seat or location of identity
  • Wehi to be held in awe
  • Whakapapa genealogy, to recite genealogy, to establish kin connections
  • Whenua land, homeland, country (also afterbirth, placenta)

People and their groups

  • Ariki male or female of high inherited rank from senior line of descent
  • Hapū clan, tribe, independent section of a people (modern usage – sub-tribe); pregnant
  • Iwi people, nation (modern usage – tribe); bones
  • Kaumātua elder or elders, senior people in a kin group
  • Ngāi Tātou a term for everyone present – ‘we all’
  • Pākehā this word is not an insult; its derivation is obscure; it is the Māori word for people living in New Zealand of British/European origin; originally it would not have included, for example, Dalmatians, Italians, Greeks, Indians, Chinese
  • Rangatira person of chiefly rank, boss, owner
  • Tama son, young man, youth
  • Tamāhine daughter
  • Tamaiti one child
  • Tamariki children
  • Tāne man/men, husband(s)
  • Teina/taina junior relative, younger brother of a brother, younger sister of a sister
  • Tipuna/tupuna ancestor
  • Tuahine sister of a man
  • Tuakana senior relative, older brother of a brother, older sister of a sister
  • Tungāne brother of a sister
  • Wahine woman, wife (wāhine: women, wives)
  • Waka canoe, canoe group (all the iwi and hapū descended from the crew of a founding waka)
  • Whāngai fostered or adopted child, young person
  • Whānau extended or non-nuclear family; to be born
  • Whanaunga kin, relatives

Components of place names

Terms for geographical features, such as hills, rivers, cliffs, streams, mountains, the coast; and adjectives describing them, such as small, big, little and long, are found in many place names. Here is a list so you can recognise them:

  • Au current
  • Awa river
  • Iti small, little
  • Kai in a place name, this signifies a place where a particular food source was plentiful, e.g., Kaikōura, the place where crayfish (kōura) abounded and were eaten
  • Manga stream
  • Mānia plain
  • Maunga mountain
  • Moana sea, or large inland ‘sea’, e.g., Taupō
  • Motu island
  • Nui large, big
  • Ō or o means ‘of’ (so does a, ā); many names begin with Ō, meaning the place of so-and-so, e.g., Ōkahukura, Ōkiwi, Ōhau
  • One sand, earth
  • Pae ridge, range
  • Papa flat
  • Poto short
  • Puke hill
  • Roa long
  • Roto lake; inside
  • Tai coast, tide
  • Wai water
  • Whanga harbour, bay

Greetings

Body parts

See also: 365 useful Māori words and phrases

A note on pronunciation

The following English equivalents are a rough guide to pronouncing vowels in Māori:

      • a as in far
      • e as in desk and the first ‘e’ in where; it should be short and sharp
      • i as in fee, me, see
      • o as in awe (not ‘oh!’)
      • u as in sue, boot

There are fewer consonants, and only a few are different from English:

      • r should not be rolled. It is pronounced quite close to the sound of ‘l’ in English, with the tongue near the front of the mouth.
      • t is pronounced more like ‘d’ than ‘t’, with the tip of the tongue slightly further back from the teeth
      • wh counts as a consonant; the standard modern pronunciation is close to the ‘f’ sound. In some districts it is more like an ‘h’; in others more like a ‘w’ without the ‘h’; in others again more like the old aspirated English pronunciation of ‘wh’ (‘huence’ for whence)
      • ng counts as a consonant and is pronounced like the ‘ng’ in ‘singer’. It is not pronounced like the ‘ng’ in ‘finger’, i.e., Whāngārei is pronounced Far-n(g)ah-ray (not Fong-gah-ray); Tauranga is pronounced Tow- (to rhyme with sew) rah-n(g)ah (not Tow-rang-gah).

The macron – a little line above some vowels – indicates vowel length. Some words spelled the same have different meanings according to their vowel length. For example, anā means ‘here is’ or ‘behold’: Anā te tangata! (Here is the man!) Ana, with no macron, means a cave. Some writers of modern Māori double the vowel instead of using macrons when indicating a long vowel; the first example would be Anaa te tangata!

Maori poll semi interesting

Maori TV has done a poll through Reid Research. It has a large sample size of 2515, a low margin of error of 1.95, but it was conducted over a very eventful five weeks so it’s hard to know how useful it is.

Party vote:

  • Labour 46.5%
  • Maori Party 17.5%
  • NZ First 13.8%
  • National 9.5%
  • Greens 9%
  • Mana 1.8%
  • TOP 1.5%
  • Other 0.3%

Not surprising to see Labour well ahead.

Interesting to see National similar to the Greens – the Greens have been promoting their Maori policies and had hopes their Maori caucus could attract support.

It isn’t stated whether they are Maori voters in Maori electorates only or overall.

By my calculations these are the percentage party votes cast in the seven Maori electorates:

  • Labour 41.21%
  • Maori Party 14.04%
  • NZ First 12.98%
  • National 7.93%
  • Greens 11.16%
  • Internet Mana 10.22%
  • Legalise Cannabis 1.24%
  • Conservative 0.61%

Internet-Mana aren’t an option this year and Mana has not got many votes.

Labour and the Maori have picked up significant amounts, and National is up a bit.

Greens and NZ First are down on the Maori vote in 2014.

From:  Māori voters struck by the Ardern effect

 

 

Metiria versus Pākehā men #2

Another view that a few Pākehā men may not entirely agree with (and probably some non- whites and non-men).

Miriam Aoke (Vice): Metiria Turei and How the NZ Media Ignores Its Own Prejudice

For the past few weeks, New Zealand has dwelt on Metiria Turei (Ngāti Kahungunu) and her admission of benefit fraud. Many were quick to label the move divisive, a ploy for votes, and condemned Turei for what they saw as a lack of remorse.

Turei was persecuted by media agents with no concern for her hauora or that of her whānau.

For Māori, mainstream media is mired in colonial framing, misrepresentation and exclusion—yet mainstream media continues to insist its coverage is non-partisan. Metiria Turei conceded the scrutiny on her whānau was unbearable, and she resigned as Green Party co-leader last Wednesday.

The voices of Pākehā men were once again triumphant in drowning out the Māori worldview.

Aoake may have a reasonable point but she has expressed it unreasonably.

It is ridiculous to assert that all the ‘drowning out’ was by Pākehā men.

Media treatment of Māori and Māori issues is deeply prejudiced.

Research conducted by Māori academics between 2006 and 2007 analysed close to 2000 stories across ONE news, 3News and Prime. In total, only 1.8 percent of stories referenced Māori. Of that 1.8 percent, 56 percent were concerned with child abuse.

That’s ten years ago and may or may not be out of date, but it raises an important point. But having started by slamming ‘Pākehā men’ she will have turned off a substantial potential readership before she got to detail her case.

Representations of Māori, and our stories, remain under the control of Pākehā-owned television, radio, and print media.

That is absurd. Ownership of media is varied. Some media is probably dominated by Pākehā men, but where is the evidence? I’m sure there must be some. I have concerns about how some media is run.

Some media is Maori controlled. I watched a couple of very interesting programmes on Maori television last night, that is a very good channel.

There is nothing stopping Māori people setting up and owning and running media.

Journalism is informed by Western pedagogies, which emphasise the need for objectivity, but the definition has shifted over time. Journalists recognised bias as inherent, and resolved to develop the practice to test information and prune any cultural or personal bias. Objectivity, in a modern context, translates as free from bias.

Purging journalism of an unmoderated bias to which it freely confesses is impossible.

Purging media of anything, including of ‘Pākehā men’, is impossible – and it would be abhorrent to try. I’m fairly sure most people including most Maori would have serious concerns about targeted purges of media.

In 2005, Aotearoa was visited by UN Special Rapporteur Rodolfo Stavenhagen—he was responsible for assessing the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Māori. The report, published in 2006, was damning. His findings suggested there was a systemic attitude of racism towards Māori within the media.

I think things have changed in the past decade, but systemic attitudes of racism are no doubt still a problem.  Aoake is promoting a sexist racist attack of her own, it just happens to be not against Māori.

He found that potential Māori ownership of resources is portrayed as a threat to non-Māori and that a recurring theme is Māori as incompetent managers or as fiscally irresponsible.

I don’t understand this. If Maori want to own media then they should choose to do that.

In his recommendations, he advocated for the establishment of an independent commission to monitor media performance and intervene with remedial action when necessary.

Intervention and remedial action would be very tricky, and potentially dangerous.

He also pleaded with political figures and media outlets to refrain from using language that may incite racial intolerance. The glaring scrutiny which prompted the resignation of Metiria Turei is evidence that mainstream media has made little to no progress.

“The voices of Pākehā men were once again triumphant in drowning out the Māori worldview” looks like language that may incite racial intolerance.

I don’t see how racism can be defeated by promoting a different slant of racism.

Aoake quotes Patrick Gower and Barry Soper as examples of the male Pākehā  problem in media. This is very selective. I saw many articles written by females, and by Maori.

I presume Aoake knows that Gower and Soper have no Māori genes. It’s not uncommon to make inaccurate assumptions – when Green MP David Clendon withdrew from the Green list he was slammed by some for being a ‘white male’. Looks can be deceiving – Clendon no doubt has some non-Māori genes, but he is also tangata whenua.

The need to demonise the poor and impoverished, to distract from the issue of a broken safety net, to stifle a Māori voice is indicative of an experience shrouded in privilege. The approach is necessarily punitive by design. It is an offensive which, when successful, exacerbates the division of wealth and equality, the “us versus them” rhetoric. Both for Turei and Māori women, navigating post-colonial Aotearoa is exhausting and arduous.

We prune and trim, yanking the weed out by the root on our hands and knees. We sow seeds to harvest and bloom when the time is right. We scrub the blood and dirt from the beds of our fingernails. We sleep heavily, satisfied that our labour will make an impact. In the morning, we wake to find the weeds overgrown, the soil infertile, and the flowers wilted. Yet still, we persist. We rise every morning, repeat the mahi, and reclaim our whenua.

It’s good to see Māori women who strongly promote what they believe in.

But when they make mistakes, as Turei did, they must not be immune from examination and criticism, even if they are Māori and female and left wing.

Entrenched problems need to be vigorously fought against. There are entrenched problems in media and in politics.

But in combating them a criticism free pass should not be given to someone simply because they may be a minority. As a white middle class male I’m a minority, but that shouldn’t give me any special immunity from criticism or examination.

Pākehā men who are politicians get investigated and criticised by media more than anyone – because there are more of them than any other minority.

There may well be bias and different races and different genders may be treated differently. By all means try to measure and monitor bias and try to address it.

But it’s racist, sexist and counter productive to protect Turei from criticism based on her gender and genes, while slamming and trying to exclude all Pākehā men.

Many Pākehā men would (and do) support promotion of better media and better politics. Isolating and ostracising them as a group won’t help.

Northern Advocate apology

It looks like being a day of media apologies.

The Northern Advocate has apologised for publishing an article that claimed people from Wales and the Mediterranean settled New Zealand before Maori did. See The white tangata whenua

From The Hui:

APOLOGY FROM THE NORTHERN ADVOCATE REGARDING AN ARTICLE WHICH CLAIMED TO SHOW ANCIENT PRE-MĀORI FACES RE-CREATED FROM SKULLS FOUND IN THE NORTH.

The story was published by the Northern Advocate and shared with the NZ Herald.
The Northern Advocate accepts it was wrong to publish Mr Hilliam’s theory of pre-Maori occupation before receiving information from the university that Mr Hilliam cited as a source of his reconstructed drawings.

We had contacted the university, from whom we initially did not hear back, and wrongly chose to publish Mr Hilliam’s opinion without its response.

The notion of pre-Maori occupation is a sensitive one — something of which the paper has become acutely aware.

We regret the story has been a catalyst for some people to infer political or racial motives.

There was no motive behind the publication of the story other than to contribute to the ongoing healthy debate about Northland’s rich history.

We are not experts on Maori matters but we respect tikanga and, in general, enjoy a good, robust relationship with local tangata whenua.

We strive to report positive Maori stories, and we are proactive in highlighting the success of Maori youth. For instance, a Whangarei man received the Te Toa Reo Maori – Takitahi (Individual Achievement) award at the Maori Language Commission’s Nga Tohu Reo Maori in December, after the paper nominated him for the award.

And we share the optimism of Nga Puhi that the treaty settlement will bring good things for Northlanders.

We have learned many lessons from this story, which has also embarrassed our matua within the NZ Herald.

We are continuing to work on bringing balance to Mr Hilliam’s theories and will share this with our readers as soon as this work is completed.

Northlanders — and New Zealanders — should be open to debate about the past, the present and the future. But there is a right way to encourage any such debate. We did it the wrong way, for which we apologise.

This looks like a fair comment:

Atakohu Middleton There is absolutely nothing to debate. Hilliam’s theories have been debunked countless times. The issue is that the Northern Advocate didn’t do its homework.

Little speech: on Maori

In his ‘state of the nation’ speech in January Andrew Little didn’t mention Maori at all – see Maori 0f Little importance? – but since then Labour’s Maori MPs, candidates and votes have been talked about a lot.

In his Congress speech yesterday Little had to mention Maori, and he did.

And, get this, after the election, at least 1 in 4 Labour MPs will be Māori.

We are going to have the largest representation of Māori MPs of any party, ever, in New Zealand politics.

It’s common for opposition parties to talk in positives in their speeches, like ‘the next Prime Minister’ and from his speech “to all of our dedicated activists and organisers who are going to sweep Labour to government on September 23rd“, and likewise, claiming “at least 1 in 4 Labour MPs will be Māori” presumes all Labour’s electorate MPs will retain their seats and they will improve their share of the party vote. Neither are guaranteed.

Through all these policies and in every decision, Māori will be at the table.

If they have Maori party members and Maori MPs then yes, they will be at Labour’s policy table, but it doesn’t mean they will be influential. 1 in 4 is 25%, from from a majority vote.

Māori aspiration sits at the core of Labour’s vision for New Zealand.

That’s vague and means little in reality.

And that’s all on Maori in the speech. Nothing specific, no policies addressing Maori issues beyond “the Kiwi dream” generalities.

Two contentious Maori issues flared up last week, partnership schools and prisons. On schools:

Thank you for the policy you launched yesterday of health teams in all our schools, which is just one of the ways we’ll bring a fresh approach to our neglected mental health services.

On prisons – nothing.

On the Treaty of Waitangi – nothing.

If Little wants Maori voters to step up and tick Labour in September’s election then Labour may need to step up with some actual policies that will give them some incentive, and promises of policy rewards.

Time to try Maori prisons?

When I first heard the suggestion by Maori MPs that a Maori run prison be set up in Northland my immediate reaction was nah, we shouldn’t have separate penal systems. But I’ve thought it through and think that it merits serious consideration.

Maori disproportionately feature in prison  and re-offending rates. The current system is not working well. So why not try something different that tries to address core problems.

Critics often say it is up to Maori to fix their own problems, and this Maori Prison proposal does exactly that.

Newshub: Labour proposes Māori prison to fix rising numbers

Labour has come up with a radical solution to the high number of Māori in jail – it wants a separate Māori prison.

It wants to convert an existing prison into one run entirely on Māori values.

“A prison based on Māori values, not exclusively for Māori but for anybody, but they’ll know that the values that the prison will be run under will be based along Māori lines,” Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis told Newshub.

Why not try it? It can’t do much worse than the current penal system.

There are 10052 prisoners and 5077 of them are Māori, making up 50.5 percent of the prison population.

Mr Davis says if Labour wins, he wants to make one of New Zealand’s 18 prisons a prison for Māori, run by Māori on Māori values.

“Why don’t we just try, have the courage to try one of those 18 prisons and run it along kaupapa Māori lines,” he said.

The Maori party supports this: Māori Party backs Māori-run prisons as ‘inevitable’

It is just a matter of time before New Zealand introduces prisons run by Māori applying Māori values, the Māori Party says.

Prime Minister Bill English shot down a proposal, by Labour corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis, on the idea this morning, saying rehabilitation efforts already took Māori values into account.

“It’s incorporated into our [prisons] where it’s appropriate,” he said.

And it’s obviously not working very well.

“We just didn’t see the point in trying to designate – you know, a prison’s a Māori prison and other prisons are not Māori – because actually there’s going to be Maori in all our prisons.”

However, Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said she had repeatedly raised the idea with the government and did not think it was dead in the water just yet.

“Eventually, in the future, this is going to be inevitable.

“I don’t think it is happening now, but we need to look at what is the pathway to get there – and that is what we’re in discussions about.”

Andrew Little sort of supported the proposal but then as good as ruled it out.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the idea was worth debating, but was not Labour’s official policy.

He did not have “a firm view” on whether separate Māori prisons should be introduced, but said the prison system was not working and something needed to changed.

Mr Little suggested it was sometimes important to have a public debate before forming official policy.

“I’m glad that we’ve got an MP… coming up with creative ideas, new ideas, fresh approaches. That’s important.”

Asked whether it could become official policy before the election, Mr Little said the party was at the “tail end” of its policy formation and the idea was not there.

So he wants to kick the can down the road and fob off the initiative.

But Labour are also trying to secure a big proportion of the Maori vote and are promoting the possibility that 25% of their MPs after the election will be Maori. So why not have 25% of their key election policies addressing big Maori issues?

But one of Labour’s Māori MPs, Adrian Rurawhe, said he would like to see it become formal party policy.

“It’s totally in line with how staff in Māori focus units already operate. So lifting it to another level would have really good outcomes.”

National MP Nuk Korako also said he liked the idea and planned to raise it with Corrections Minister Louise Upston.

“I think a Māori approach to anything is really important. Not only just prisons. If [Kelvin Davis] can get some traction on that, that would be great,” he said.

Mr English said it would not be desirable to create the impression of “some sort of separate system”.

So not just Labour’s Maori MPs, but also a National Maori MP supporting it. And the Greens: Bigger dreams needed for prison reform

Te Taitokerau MP Kelvin Davis is keen to see Northland regional prison at Ngawha run on kaupapa Maori lines, with Greens and Maori Party MPs also sympathetic to the idea.

Unfortunately both Little and English are dismissing it.

Who is more likely to shift on this when they think it through, National with pressure from the Maori Party, or Labour with pressure from their Maori MPs, and perhaps the Maori Party and the Greens?

Others are warming to the idea too.

Martin van Beynen: ‘Lamentable’ Maori incarceration figures demand fresh approach

The idea of special prisons run entirely on Maori values sounds like it is worth a crack.

Things couldn’t really get much worse if you look at the statistics about Maori imprisonment.

Given these lamentable figures and the cost to society – including to the families of offenders – just about anything is worth trying.

The reservation I have with the idea of Maori values is that it’s difficult to know what they are and if they are really going to make a difference.

Nothing much now seems to be making a significant difference, so something else, anything else, is surely worth a try.

Duncan Garner: Why not try a Maori prison? The current penal system is an abject failure

I’m asking for everyone to think outside the square for a few minutes. Please. I support trying a kaupapa Maori prison – run by Maori, for predominately Maori, along Maori lines. Is your blood boiling yet? Bear with me.

The reality is prison is mainly a Maori issue. And the current prison system is an abject failure – they’re just a finishing school for crims and a recruitment dream for gangs.

I’m not talking about the baddest ones. I accept they probably can’t be helped and being locked away is the best answer.

Maori prisons will still be tough jails. Yes, we lock them up each night. But we also take them home to be taught who they are and to meet their whanau.

I’m not suggesting all our jails go this way – let’s just try one. The prison experiment over the past 70 years has been a debacle. Rehabilitation is woefully low, recidivism is painfully high.

What’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t work? Too late – we’re there. Make Maori responsible for turning around Maori. That’s tino rangatiratanga if I’ve ever seen it.

I liked Labour MP Kelvin Davis’ call for a Maori prison this week. Labour leader Andrew Little didn’t have the balls to support Davis – it’s election year after all and it’s time to re-start peddling all this tough on crime bollocks that politicians spout. Plus Labour prefer their Maori MPs on the doormat to be walked over.

It’s time to try something genuinely new.

It’s contradictory to demand that Maori sort their own problems out and then refuse to let them try.

A Maori prison must be worth a try and must be given a go.

 

Make or break weekend for Little?

This weekend could be make or break for Andrew Little’s ambitions. Same for Labour as they have their election year Congress (a party conference with PR rather than conferring),

Labour have failed to impress voters since Helen Clark lost the 2008 election. In every election this century Labour has lost support and have trended downwards since 1938.

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Lately Labour has been polling in the high twenties, hardly improved on their a record low election result in 2014 and well short of where it needs to be if they want to be in a strong position to lead a coalition government.

Andrew Little took over the leadership after the 2014 loss but two and a half years later he is struggling to appeal to voters.

Little and Labour are trying hard to address those issues, but while they talk about them they have been slow to come out with clear or decisive policies. Little is reported to be announcing something on housing in his big speech tomorrow.

An issue not on that list but probably critical to Labour’s chances is ‘Maori’ Little didn’t mention that word at all in his January ‘state of the nation’ speech.

He will need to do much better tomorrow, without getting tangled up trying to appease two distinctly different voter groups, the ‘middle New Zealand’ said to be essential to ‘win’ an election, and the Maori vote that Labour are putting so much hope on while giving them little in the way of policies – Little has ruled out two policies promoted by Maori candidates and MPs this week, partnership schools and Maori prisons.

Labour’s Maori electorate MPs (and Labour’s strategists) have created a problem for themselves by not standing on the party list.

While party vote is essential for Labour’s overall success, six Maori MPs have to win their seats again or they are out of Parliament, so they are going to put more effort into their own interests.

The controversies over partnership schools and Maori prisons is indicative of this.

Somehow Little is going to need to overcome this perception…

…without annoying voters who don’t want preferential treatment for Maori.

If he doesn’t deal with that successfully then whatever he says about housing, inequality, poverty immigration and economy may not matter much.

This could be a make or break weekend for Little.

It’s still over four months until the election, but there are signs Little could be losing support from within Labour and signs that confidence in Labour is really struggling, again (or still).

Little’s speech will be important – what he says and how he delivers it, but more important than the PR driven RA RA will be in the next week or two when the contents and ramifications of the speech sink in amongst Labour’s MPs, candidates and rank and file.

If they are not happy and confident amongst themselves – and that is difficult to fake – then voters are going to remain unimpressed.