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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Whanau Ora sale bungled - Peters

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the Maori Party has mishandled the development of its whanau ora policy, and it's now unlikely to win the support it needs from either Maori or government.

Associate social development minister Tariana Turia last week received a report from the Whanau Ora Taskforce led by Sir Mason Durie on streamlining delivery of services to struggling Maori families.

But she won't make the report public until Cabinet has considered its recommendations, and Prime Minister John Key is now saying whanau ora must be for all families.

Mr Peters says when he wanted to make major changes in the Maori affairs portfolio in the early 1990s, he didn't give his Cabinet colleagues a chance to rewrite his Ka Awatea policy.

“I went to the Maori people and said here are the details, tell me what you think, it’s been written in consultation widely with you, if you are in and signed up let’s go, if not, let’s not waste anyone else’s time. Then I went to Cabinet. But now, with Whanau Ora, no one in Maoridom knows what's going on,” Mr Peters says.

He says there are arguments for creating Maori-specific service delivery systems, but not for Mr Key's one size fits all approach.


Meanwhile, Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says the confusion around whanau ora doesn't bode well for what could be a very good programme.

She says the Greens will support programmes by Maori for Maori and anything that reduces inequality and poverty.

But all it's hearing is confusion about how the policy will be funded or delivered.

“This could mean existing services not getting access to funding, those with a track record losing access to their funding, that their won’t be any new money put into it,” Ms Turei says.

There are concerns that public money for whanau ora could go to private for profit service providers rather than the community sector that has a history of supporting whanua.


Maori Dance company Atamira is kicking off the year with a showcase of works by its younger dancers and choreographers.

The performance is on the first weekend of March at the Corban Estate in Henderson.

Executive director Moss Patterson says Hou will introduce dance audiences to newcomers like Gaby Thomas and Nancy Wijohn, who use contemporary dance to explore their whakapapa and identity in urban Auckland.

“So really exciting ideas about hw modern dance, contemporary dance and theatre can be used to tell stories of the past and really that’s what Atamira Dance Company is about. It’s about drawing the stories of our tupuna, letting them come through our bodies, letting our bodies be the conduit for those stories and putting them out on to the stage,” Mr Patterson says.

New funding from Creative New Zealand means Atamira can run a full programme of performances this year.


The Prime Minister says the Whanau Ora programme is about trusting Maori and other families to take greater care of themselves.

Details of the new service delivery model are yet to emerge, but John Key last week told Parliament the Maori Party initiative will apply to all New Zealanders in need.

He says much of the $20 million spent every day on social welfare is ineffective because government departments don't co-ordinate their activities.

Mr Key says Whanau Ora will move money into the community where families will be expected to take greater responsibility for themselves.

“They have to have their own plan. They have to be ambitious themselves. They have to take some responsibility for themselves and it’s a higher trust model from the state,” Mr Key says.

In some cases that could mean reconnecting Maori families with their iwi.


The Maori Party says it wants to see choice in education for Maori parents and children.

Education spokesperson Te Ururoa Flavell was part of an Inter-Party Working Group that recommended the top five percent and bottom 20 percent of pupils should be able to switch schools.

He says the group, which was set up as part of ACT's confidence and supply agreement with the National Party, visited a wide range of schools, kura and teacher training colleges in compiling its report for Education Minister Anne Tolley.

“The whole kaupapa was about choice. Some people might equate that with vouchers. I didn’t necessarily by itself but the whole notion about choice is something that I believe needs to be given some consideration in particular around the under-achievement of a certain percentage of our children in the education system so we need to look at all options,” Mr Flavell says.

It's not acceptable that Maori students are more likely than non-Maori to leave school without qualifications.


Arts body Toi Maori is looking forward to a smoother funding relationship with the restructuring of Creative New Zealand.

Arts and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson intends to scrap the separate Maori funding board, Te Waka Toi, and instead have four people with knowledge of Maori arts on a new 13-member arts council.

Garry Nicholas, the chief executive of Toi Maori, says the artists' organisation often found itself competing with Te Waka Toi.

“The Maori staff are still in place which is one of the concerns we had with the proposed changes and we would hope that strengthens so the officers do work directly with organisations like Tai Maori and we can assist them much mire cleanly than the previous structure offered us,” Mr Nicholas says.

The new arts council needs to align its funding more with where artists see their arts going.

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