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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Welfare tests attack on poor

December 23

Former Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia says he is at a loss for words to describe the government's latest announcement on welfare.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced the government is looking at cutting the dole next year for anyone who has received an unemployment benefit for 12 months and doesn't pass a new comprehensive work test.

Mr Horomia says this is a sick Christmas present for Maori who are disproportionally represented in the dole queues.

“It doesn’t surprise be because this is the real right (wing) edict, this is the real cost saving exercise and you give it to one end of town and take it from the other end and I’m just so sorry the end you take it from is our people,” Mr Horomia says.

He says young Maori are on the benefit not out of choice but because no jobs are available.

Ms Bennett was unavailable for comment.


However Green's co-leader Meteria Turei says the party will be making the fight for social justice a priority next year.

Speaking before Paula Bennett made her announcement, Ms Turei predicted beneficiaries and Maori would be singled out by the Government next year.

“We need to focus on the social justice aspect because that is where National is going to attack our people most. They’re talking about benefit reform. They’ve introduced those cards to prevent people being able to use benefit money for various types of things. There’s a slow burning attack on beneficiaries and their children, so that will be the big focus for next year,” Ms Turei says.

She is keen to see what impact Tariana Turia's Whanau Ora programme will have on vulnerable families.


A leading Maori academic says there is still structural racial prejudice in New Zealand.

The head of Canterbury University's Maori and Indigenous Studies department, Rawiri Taonui, says only superficial changes have been made in the past year such as reintroducing Whanganui's H or adopting a Maori flag.

“More substantial changes such as Auckland super city representation and Maori seats on polytechnics are more about structural prejudice, which is why Maori lost out,” he says.

Mr Taonui says while Pakeha are letting go of their reservations about working with Maori as seen by the coalition between National and the Maori party there are still prejudices working at a deeper level.


One of the country's major charitable organisations, the ASB Trust, has committed $10 million to Maori and Pasifika education.

Manuka Henare from Auckland University's business school was on the Maori panel which selected seven projects to receive funding over the next five years says the aim was to chose organisations which focus on collective learning.

He says it's important to look at more than just individual learning.

“One of the challenges for New Zealand’s educational programmes is the whole challenge about individual learning and group learning so we need tho think about learning tribes, the notion of the hapu that learns together, benefits and gains together,” Dr Henare says.

The initiative aims to lift Maori educational achievement in Auckland and Northland.


Green's co-leader Metiria Turei is warning that voting rules for Auckland super city will seriously disadvantage Maori.

Legislation setting up the new super city allows people who own a commercial or rental property in any of the 12 wards to vote for that ward...allowing the same person to have multiple votes.

Ms Turei says the cumulative effect is that Maori who rent will have less say in how their community runs than their wealthier counterparts.

“So between the two things of allowing property owners to vote, even if they don’t live in that area, and the boundaries have been set so badly that people in South Auckland get fewer councilors to represent them than they should be entitled to, then those people in those areas have less power on the council,” Ms Turei.


Ngati Porou are gearing up for one of the biggest days on their tribal calander.

Since 1995 the annual Pa Wars have been held on January the third, and next year's inter-marae challenge is being held at Uawa, Tolaga Bay.

Te Rau Kupenga from the defending trivial pursuits champions says when Pa Wars first stated only a few marae-fielded teams, but the whanau day now attracts representatives of over 50 marae throughout the region.

He says Pa Wars has something for everyone.


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