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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Key takes softer line on Whanau Ora

The Prime Minister is reassuring Maori who fear his demand Whanau Ora be available for all could dilute the new welfare delivery model.

Details of the policy are under wraps while Cabinet considers the recommendations of the Whanau Ora Taskforce led by Sir Mason Durie, but John Key told Parliament last week it would be available to all families who are struggling.

But he now says it's designed around a Maori kaupapa, and like kohanga reo it is likely to be largely used by Maori.

“In the end it might suit some families in the way that kohanga reo and kuras are welcome to any individual. It’s largely Maori kids that go there but not exclusively,” Mr Key says.

He says whanau ora means the state will trust poor families to take greater responsibility for their own care.

MAORI PARTY LOOKING FOR FLEX IN EDUCATION SYSTEM

The Maori Party wants to see more flexibility in the education system to help Maori children do better.

Education spokesperson Te Ururoa Flavell says he's backing the call from an Inter-Party education working group for the top five percent and bottom 20 percent of children to have the right to switch schools, because Maori make up a big percentage of the bottom 20 percent.

He says the needs of students in Mangere are different from those in Remuera or Ruatahuna... so the solutions needs to be flexible too.

“Some schools have had the choice of locking in to the resources of the Correspondence School and have been able to make advances for rangatahi Maori thorough their programme so there are advances that can be adjusted and moved,” Mr Flavell says.

The Inter-Party Working Group wants more work to be done by MPs or officials on the broad brush ideas in its report.

SIR DOUGLAS GRAHAM DEFENDS TRIBUNAL CONTINUITY

Former treaty negotiations minister Sir Douglas Graham says the Waitangi Tribunal needs to continue after historical treaty claims are settled.

The government has a target of 2014 to settle such claims.

Sir Douglas, who acted as facilitator on a comprehensive multi-iwi Auckland settlement, says the tribunal will still have a role considering new issues that arise.

“If Maori people feel that the Crown or the government is not acting properly, they ought to be able to go off to the Waitangi and say so. So I’m not one who thinks after the historical claims are settled, we ought to abolish the tribunal and forget about it. I think it ought to remain there as a safety valve and somewhere for Maori to go,” Sir Douglas says.

The country should be proud of itself on the way treaty settlements are progressing, and he's happy to continue to be involved if asked.

PETERS PREFERS TARGETING OVER SIMPLE REPETITION

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says there's a case for a targeted welfare delivery system for Maori, but it should not be turned into a one size fits all model.

The Whanau Ora policy being developed as part of the Maori Party's support agreement with National was supposed to use Maori providers to help Maori families in need deal more effectively with government agencies.

The Prime Minister, John Key, now says will be available to all families in need.

But Mr Peters, who was Maori affairs minister in the Bolger government in 1991, says a well-designed policy can make a real impact in Maori families ... but be meaningless to non-Maori.

“To do what they’re intending in a way is not to understand the Polynesian character and culture and the Maori character and culture. Maoridom, as the Maori, as the army has proven, thrives on direct intervention and leadership and certainty as to where they are going, and they do not like a vacuum,” Mr Peters says.

He says the controversy over the policy shows the Maori Party's political naivety.

KEY KEEN TO USED TALENTS OF FORMER MINISTER

The government has more work for former treaty negotiations minister Sir Douglas Graham.

Sir Douglas helped bring together Auckland tribes to develop the framework for settlements across the isthmus.

Prime Minister John Key says the government is considering where Sir Graham will be dispatched next.

He says the former National MP has a sharp legal mind and can see a way through complex situations.

“I think he is someone who is respected as someone who comes to iwi talking with the voice of the Crown. He’s not just some junior official we’re putting out there and I think that does help progress issues,” Mr Key says.

ATAMIRA DANCE TROUPE KEEN TO SPREAD REPERTOIRE

Atamira Dance Company has the world in its sights.

Executive director Moss Patterson says an infusion of Creative New Zealand funding has given the 10-year-old Maori troupe confidence about its future.

It will take two new works, Memoirs of Active and Taonga, to present to bookers at next month's Performing Arts Market in Wellington and at other such markets such as the Tokyo performing arts market.

Atamira will showcase its younger dancers and choreographers at special event at Corban Estate in West Auckland the first weekend of March.

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