Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Budget boosts police, prisons, pennies for whanau

Maori have not been left out of Finance Minister Bill English's austere budget.

The Government is pointing to general health and welfare measures as benefiting Maori, including the safeguarding of entitlements to income support, Working for Families, pensions and student loans.

It has also been quick to claim that and extra $244 million for the insulation of homes will be attractive to Maori, with grants of up to $1800 available to homeowners without being income tested.

There are a number of measures targeted at Maori. The Maori Economic Task Force will get $10 million over the next four years, while whanau social assistance services will get $32 million over the same period.

This will allow a network of whanau advocates to be set up to liaise with community groups and Maori Wardens, and to work with families experiencing hardship to ensure they are getting all the assistance available to them.

However, there is little evidence of the much talked about $1 billion fund associate minister Tariana Turia was proposing for Maori health and welfare providers, and the announced health and welfare measures are dwarfed by the $900 million going to justice measures over the next four years for such things as building more prisons and the $183 to provide 600 more police by 2011, with half of them going to the Counties Manukau region.


A community welfare advocate has labeled the government's move to stop people being bailed or paroled to a state house, as racist.

Ken Laban says a new clause added into new state house tenancy contracts will disadvantage those in the lower socio economic bracket, ultimately, Maori and Pacific people.

Mr Laban says people on bail are innocent until proven guilty.

“People are going to make the assumption there is a racist element to the decision and if you look at it solely from a Maori or Pacific Islander in terms of what the dominant groups are affected, clearly it might not be intended but it’s certainly got a racial consequence,” Mr Laban says.

He is working with four mothers and 16 children who will lose their Lower Hutt homes as a consequence of having Mongrel Mob connections.


A Samoan who has grown up in New Zealand says special quota places in universities should be retained for Maori and Pacific Island children.

Journalist Tapu Misa says for example at Auckland University Law faculty with 25 places set aside for Maori and 13 for Pacific out of 300 there is a lot of resentment from Pakeha however this is not justified.

“The ones who are very close to making it might not have made it for reasons that are, they could have gone to schools where they haven’t had quite the same kinds of support you can get say at private school where they just lay everything on,” she says.

Ms Misa says once the students get through the door they do as well or better than anyone else but she says they also have a commitment to give back to their communities.


The Prime Minister says Maori shouldn't be disappointed with the budget.

John Key says the budget contains a number of particular measures aimed specifically at Maori.

“There’s some stuff that runs across some of the big spending portfolios which has a real target towards Maori and I think the Maori Party are happy with what they’ve seen their end,” Mr Key says.

Entitlements to such things as working for families, pensions and student loans which all affect Maori are maintained in the budget.


A problem gambling co ordinator is predicting Maori gambling will get worse under Auckland's Super City Council.

Zoe Martin, from Hapai Te Hau Ora, says Maunkau Citys sinking lid policy on pokies protects the interests of its community as when a venue closes, a new owner cannot continue to have those pokie machines operating.

Ms Martin says she is concerned the policy will disappear under the new super city regime.

“Manukau City is our biggest concern and we’re looking at trying to make sure Manukau keeps its sinking lid policy in place and with the super city we are concerned maybe it will be a harder task,” Ms Martin says.

Manukau City has one pokie machine for every 139 people, the highest ratio in the country.


Palmerston North Hospital has sacked the only Maori member of its Chaplain Service due to funding cuts.

Reverend Ellen Marsh lost her eight-hours-a-week job, despite one fulltime, two part-time chaplains and a volunteer visitor keeping their jobs.

Richard Orzecki, chair of the hospital board's iwi partner, Manawhenua Hauora, says it's unfortunate for Rev Marsh however a consequence of tough financial times.

“The hospital actually funds the positions out of its budget and it’s facing severe deficits at the moment which it needs to address,” Mr Orzecki says.

Manawhenua Hau Ora is putting a counter-proposal to the board's funding division for the recruitment of a 15 hour a week chaplain position. The outcome expected at the end of this week.


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