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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Whanau Ora policy to be revealed

The wraps come off the government's Whanau Ora policy today, two months after a task force headed by Sir Mason Durie delivered its report on a better way to deliver health, welfare and education services to Maori.

Prime Minister John Key says the government hasn't accepted all the recommendations of the as yet secret report, but budget decisions have been made.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, the Associate minister for social development, says families need to be given the power to make decisions for themselves.

“For a long time Maori have been criticised roundly for not addressing significant issues that are impacting on their families, and this is an opportunity for not only them to do so but also we are looking at Pacific peoples and the general population,” Mrs Turia says.


Meanwhile, Te Whanau o Waipareira is awaiting today's release of the government's whanau ora policy to see how it ties in with its own vision of social service delivery.

The west Auckland trust is tagged as one of the lead agencies for the policy, and chief executive John Tamihere says it has been training its staff for three months to see beyond their immediate specialties.

He says while the policy is primarily about health, it needs to break down boundaries.

“I suspect what will be announced is what most Maori organisations have been working for and striving for, that is a totally integrated family management type programme reaching across health, welfare, education and justice so that no individual will fall through the huge number of gaps that occur right now,” Mr Tamihere says.

More important than today's announcement will be finding out how much is committed for Whanau ora in next month's budget.


An Auckland auction house has won the right to sell a collection of Maori and Pacific taonga being made surplus from an American museum.

Neil Campbell from Webb’s says he was approached by the Zanesville Museum of Art in Ohio to value the items, which were being cleared to make room for more Native American artefacts.

Much of the collection was gifted by foreign aid worker Eric Young, who was based in the south Pacific in the 1950s and 60s.

Mr Campbell was able to convince the museum board that repatriating the collection was the right thing to do.

“The material is probably worth more in New York than it is here which is a great irony I guess. On a global setting (Maori) is considered one of the highest forms of indigenous applied arts. The guys that are collecting this sort of material recognize Maori applied arts as some of the best,” Mr Campbell says.

The Zanesville collection will be auctioned in mid-June, and by law the Maori items will have to stay in the country.


Today could mark a new era for social service delivery.

The government will announce how much of the Maori Party's whanau ora agenda it is willing to fund.

John Tamihere from West Auckland's Waipareira Trust, which is expected to be a lead agency for the policy, says millions of dollars could be saved by bulk funding Maori providers to work on a whole of family basis.

He says Waipareira has been retraining its health and welfare staff in expectation of the new model.

“Instead of calling people your mental health worker, your social worker, this and that, all they are is whanau navigators. They help you navigate through your health plans, through the education plan for your children through to yourself and what you might want to do in terms of upskilling yourself. They will help you through your welfare difficulties, and if there is a justice issue, we will plug that in too,” Mr Tamihere says.

He says tackling tough social problems at a whanau level is an investment in the health of the whole community.


Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei is warning the decision to fire the elected members of Environment Canterbury could shut Maori out of decision-making in that region.

Ms Turei says the appointment of commissioners by Environment Minister Nick Smith and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide derails democracy.

She says mana whenua will struggle to have a say.

“It unhitches the relationship between Ngai Tagu and the council, Environment Canterbury. It makes it uncertain then what the relationship of the iwi are to the council decisions so all the work that has gone into those relationships could be completely undone,” Ms Turei says.

She says the decision by National and Act to shut Maori out of both the Auckland super city council and Environment Canterbury is a disturbing trend.


The Maori Literature Trust is looking for six Maori writers who are serious about creating a bestseller.

Chair Robyn Bargh says the trust will pay the writers a living allowance for six months and provide mentors to critique their work weekly.

She says the initiative is a way to address the under-representation of Maori work on the bookshelves.

“There's an interesting cross cultural dimension in New Zealand that really isn’t being explored adequately in our literature and so I think this is a good opportunity to encourage Maori writers to actually talk about what it looks like form their perspective and create characters who have different perspectives on life on Aotearoa,” Mrs Bargh says.

Applicants for Te Papa Tupu need to submit a finished piece or working manuscript of more than 5000 words by mid-May.

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