Latest from the Beehive
The government has taken further steps to split the country into various camps – first, we will have vaccinated and unvaccinated Kiwis, and second, we are further developing Us and Them racial camps. One split is being explained by the government’s need to protect the nation against the spread of Covid-19, the other is being justified by a debatable interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi.
When something must be done to meet the requirements of the Treaty (according to interpretations adopted by the Ardern government to promote its political agenda), most critics are likely to be silenced. To challenge the dispensation of favours to Maori or whatever has been justified by the Treaty is to risk being accused of racism.
The latest decision to split the country into vaccinated and unvaccinated camps – and to bestow rights and benefits, such as a job, on the vaccinated – affects Police and Defence personnel.
Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced that workplace vaccination requirements will be extended to include the New Zealand Police and Defence Force in preparation for the transition to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework on 3 December 2021.
Ministers have worked with Police and Defence Force leadership on this, and there is broad support for the decision, he said.
“Vaccination is our greatest tool in keeping New Zealanders safe, so we have extended vaccine requirements to include constabulary, recruits and authorised officers of New Zealand Police, and the armed forces and civilian staff of the New Zealand Defence Force,” Michael Wood said.
“So many of the individuals within these organisations have been essential to our COVID-19 response and are already fully vaccinated. But we want to ensure that those who serve and protect our communities on a daily basis can do so without unintentionally spreading the virus,” Michael Wood said.
Other government announcements, based on the government’s interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi, divide the country’s people into Maori and non-Maori, or Us and Them.
The Associate Minister of Health, Dr Ayesha Verrall, brought the Treaty into considerations when she announced an “investment” to help expand maternal mental health services in five District Health Boards.
The funding of $500,000 a year under the Maternity Action Plan for the Lakes, Northland, Waitemata, Counties Manukau and Hawkes Bay DHBs will be used to enhance early intervention initiatives for women with mild-to-moderate maternal mental health needs, and their families.
Māori and Pacific women in rural and isolated areas will be prioritised.
The Ministry of Health estimates around 12 to 18 per cent of New Zealand mothers will develop depression, anxiety or other mental health issues during the perinatal period. These figures are higher in some population groups, including Māori and Pacific peoples.
The Minister asked the Ministry of Health to carry out a stocktake of maternal mental health services provided by district health boards.
“A key finding in their report, which is being released today, was that we need to do more to improve equity and ensure cultural models of care are available,” Ayesha Verrall said.
This year, the government is investing across Lakes, Northland, Waitemata, Counties Manukau and Hawkes Bay DHBs. From July next year, Northland and Lakes DHBs will receive an additional $500,000 a year for service expansion.
“They were chosen as they provide maternal mental health services with support from local community providers, and this funding will allow them to immediately extend their services to help more mothers and whānau in these priority communities.”
The Ministry of Health is working with the Health Reform Transition Unit on developing a national pathway for accessing maternal mental health services, Verrall said.
“The national pathway will ensure our future health system supports services which better meet the Crown’s Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations. And it will provide more equitable health outcomes for whānau Māori, Pacific peoples and other populations that are disadvantaged.”
The Associate Minister of Health (Māori), Peeni Henare, has a portfolio which draws attention to the race-based focus of his work. He has been keeping tabs on vaccination rates among Māori “across the motu”.
The Maori vaccination rate has reached 80 per cent for first doses of the COVID-19 vaccination nationally, the Minister enthused.
“As you would expect, kaumatua have led the way vaccinating for their mokopuna, resulting in high vaccination rates. This has seen 91.6% of Māori over 65 fully vaccinated, which compares well with any other group in New Zealand.”
That observation brings into question the oft-repeated claim that the health system is racist and discriminates against Maori. If it is true, it means the racist doctors, nurses and what-have-you bring age into account when they treat some people differently from others and they treat older Maori the same as the rest of the population.
Next, we are told the government has introduced legislation that will reverse provisions in the Oranga Tamariki Act
“… as part of a path to rebuild trust and confidence in the organisation.”
The Oranga Tamariki Amendment Bill makes a number of changes, including the partial repeal of “the subsequent child” provisions, Minister of Children Kelvin Davis said.
These provisions were introduced by the previous government with the aim of improving the safety of a subsequent child. They apply where a parent has previously had a child permanently removed from their care or has a murder, manslaughter, or infanticide conviction for the death of a child in their care.
Davis said a review found the provisions often resulted in increased trauma and distress to the older child, who was often drawn into court proceedings to establish there was no realistic prospect that they would be returned to their parent’s care.
The provisions also undermined the ability of social workers to work meaningfully with whānau, with hapū, with iwi, and with communities.
The partial repeal will address a continuing breach of the Treaty as noted by the Waitangi Tribunal, Davis said.
The Bill is expected to be passed and come into effect in 2022.
The interests of indigenous people, meanwhile, were high on Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s agenda during her visit to Ottawa. She met with Patty Hajdu, Canadian Minister of Indigenous Services, and Marc Miller, Canadian Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations,
“… to further expand and develop the positive relationship between both countries”.
Did she talk with anyone else on any other topic?
Probably – but none of that part of her programme as been deemed worthy of a press statement.
Latest from the Beehive
Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall has announced an investment to help expand maternal mental health services in five District Health Boards.
Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today that workplace vaccination requirements will be extended to include the New Zealand Police and Defence Force in preparation for the transition to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework on 3 December 2021.
The Honourable Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Associate Minister for Māori Development, met with the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Canadian Minister of Indigenous Services, and the Honourable Marc Miller, Canadian Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, to further expand and develop the positive relationship between both countries.
Associate Minister of Health (Māori) Hon Peeni Henare today confirmed that Māori across the motu have now reached 80 percent for first doses of the COVID-19 vaccination nationally.
The Government has today introduced legislation that will reverse provisions in the Oranga Tamariki Act as part of a path to rebuild trust and confidence in the organisation.
The Minister of Justice has confirmed the introduction of the Security Information in Proceedings Legislation Bill to Parliament.