Children’s Minister explains what he expects from his all-Maori advisory team while the Nats respond by saying … nothing

Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis believes the Crown should maintain responsibility for the care and protection of at-risk and vulnerable children, regardless of their race.

Moreover, he is confident his all-Maori  team of advisers will not be taking race into account as they help to improve Oranga Tamariki’s care and protection of children.

Whether all members of the team got this message is another matter.

Matthew Tukaki (the bloke who sees nothing amiss in deriding MPs who raise questions that vex him as “baboons”) is chair of the new ministerial advisory group on Oranga Tamariki.

He is on record as saying reforming the agency is a chance to make real change for Māori.

“It’s about entrenched poverty. It’s about lack of housing, mental health, addiction services primary health, the loss of jobs, you name it, it’s a multiplicity of different things. So we are charged with looking at how we take these different reports and recommendations, the issues on the table today, the things in particular Māori have been talking about for years now, and effect real change,” Mr Tukaki says.

Similarly, Dame Naida Glavish said the tough job would be “putting the pieces back together” for Māori.

“The tough job will be initiating and instilling whānau, hapū, iwi trust in a service that they haven’t had any trust in – or any reason to trust – in the last few years. That’s where the hard work is.”

Dame Naida said she was “absolutely” pleased chief executive Grainne Moss had resigned. “But it’s not about her now, it’s about us fixing up a broken system.”

In light of the Minister’s assurance about the advisory team’s focus being on all children in Oranga Tamariki care or requiring its protection, regardless of their race, we must suppose these advisers have been misreported.

The assurance was given in response to questions Point of Order put to the Minister about his appointments:

What are the reasons for the Minister appointing no non-Maori to the expert group?

 I have selected and appointed well-respected members of the community to the Ministerial Advisory Board, who each bring with them valuable expertise. When making the appointments I took into account their seniority, experience and standing in New Zealand. They will play a key role and their advice will help us improve the child care and protection system for all children and young people who come into contact with Oranga Tamariki – whether they’re Maori or non-Maori.

Does the Minister have any sympathy with the arguments promoted for a Mokopuna Authority (Māori for Māori by Māori)? 

 I met with Oranga Tamariki leadership and senior officials just before Christmas to outline my priorities and areas of focus in this portfolio. Those priorities include focusing on enhancing relationships with whānau and Māori, and starting to entrust funding and decision-making to Māori and to people on the ground in our regions.

However, I don’t accept that the Crown should absolve itself of its responsibility to care for and protect our at-risk and vulnerable children, whether they’re Maori or non- Maori.

I believe we need to reshape Oranga Tamariki and fix the system, to do better for our children and young people.

There isn’t a single, homogeneous view from Maori about how the system should work. Different Maori communities, hapū and iwi have different ideas of how they want to be involved.

So we need to engage with hapū, iwi and Māori about their capacity, their capability and their will to become involved and what their solutions are, what a partnership looks like to them.

And does the Minister believe he would be ill-advised to make decisions based on the information and recommendations he should already have received in several reports on the performance of Oranga Tamariki? 

 My decision-making in this portfolio has been and will be informed by a range of sources.

As soon as I became the Minister I began a schedule of meetings with various officials, with stakeholders, with Māori – including some of Oranga Tamariki’s harshest critics – to help develop the Government’s priorities and aspirations for children, particularly tamariki Māori.

I’ve considered the various reports and reviews, our Government’s Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and the feedback from iwi and Māori.

The Waitangi Tribunal is also currently assessing whether the Ministry’s legislation, policies and practices are consistent with te Tiriti o Waitangi, and I will be listening intently to the Tribunal.

Outside of formal reporting and data, what is also needed is real time information about Oranga Tamariki and its progress, operations and performance, and certainty that its future direction is understood and becoming entrenched – this is what the Advisory Board will help provide.

Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency Chair, is among those who might want greater separatism in the restructuring of the state system for protecting and caring for children.

She said she wants Oranga Tamariki chief executive Grainne Moss’ decision to resign to be the catalyst for Māori leadership of an organisation in which seven of every 10 children are Māori.

Diversity was not part of her prescription for improvement:

“It’s a big organisation, but Pākehā don’t have the cultural competency, they don’t have the networks. I honestly don’t believe they have the long-term interest in the safety of the children,” Raukawa-Tait told The AM Show on Monday morning.

“This is our time to step up and do what we have to do. We would’ve done that long ago given the opportunity, but it’s always been the Government – and particularly Pākehā – saying ‘we know what’s best for you’. We’re saying, right now, ‘hands off our tamariki – no more’.

“It really is about the solutions by Māori, for Māori, with Māori as soon as possible.”

Davis’s all-Maori team might not be enough to mollify all Maori leaders who have been railing against Oranga Tamariki’s management and operational practices.  The Opposition seems to be indifferent.

When asked this morning, a National press officer said no statements had been issued on the matter.

How “partnership” can shape relationships between councils and tribes – and the establishment of race-based grants

A new trough was brought to our attention this morning, although ethnicity will limit the numbers of eligible applicants.

If you are non-Maori, it looks like you shouldn’t bother getting into the queue – but who knows?

We learned of the trough from the Scoop website, where the Kapiti Coast District Council has posted its invitation to line up for a lick at the pickings. 

The 2020/21 Māori Economic Development Fund is now open to whānau, hapū, iwi and mātāwaka in Kāpiti to help develop their business or social enterprise.

The grants fund was established in 2013 by the Kāpiti Coast District Council and Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti, providing financial assistance to a range of mana whenua entities such as the Māoriland Film Festival, Ōtaki Manuka Growers Ltd, Kāpiti Island Nature Tours and Toi Matarau Gallery. Continue reading “How “partnership” can shape relationships between councils and tribes – and the establishment of race-based grants”

How a non-congratulatory PM’s speech has us wondering about knighthoods for kindness and a profusion of new pubs

Latest from the Beehive –

According to the blare from the Beehive, the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme will be further extended to 31 December, a new $162 million package of 23 projects across the country will clean up waterways and deliver over 2000 jobs, and the PM has delivered a speech to the party faithful.

Here at Point of Order, we first got a whiff of the  speech when Jacinda Ardern was questioned about it on RNZ’s Morning Report. She refuted any suggestion it was self-congratulatory.

Then we read the speech and early on found Ardern declared she was

” … very proud to be part of our parliamentary team.

“Each and every one of them work so hard, and while I am loathe to single any one person out, I feel safe in doing so for … “

The PM did not dramatically halt for a drum roll at this juncture.  Nor did she teasingly  pause, giving a moment or two of time to imagine who might be named.

Had we been given those moments for conjecture, we would have put good money first on Grant Robertson, and then (not necessarily in this order) on David Parker, Megan Woods and  Chris Hipkins. Continue reading “How a non-congratulatory PM’s speech has us wondering about knighthoods for kindness and a profusion of new pubs”

Davis has been even-handed (almost) in Budget help for tourism and Maori – but Peters boosted racing much more handsomely

We imagine Kelvin Davis is being hailed for his services to Maori through his portfolio as Minister of Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti but perhaps not so much for his services to tourism as Minister of Tourism.

At least, not when the headline numbers of handouts and help for Maori and for tourism are spotted.

The Government will invest over $900 million in response to COVID-19 “to support our whānau, tamariki and all Māori so we can rebuild together”, Māori ministers (including Davis) announced.   [See update below]

Tourism gets a $400 million targeted Tourism Recovery Fund (but it also benefits from an extension of the Wage Subsidy Scheme and a domestic tourism campaign).

One commentator (if we heard correctly) drew attention to those numbers and noted that tourism was being short-changed with $400 million, compared with the $900 million being provided for Maori.

More obviously, tourism leaders could complain they have been short-changed compared with the racing industry. Continue reading “Davis has been even-handed (almost) in Budget help for tourism and Maori – but Peters boosted racing much more handsomely”

Too many tourists and cows – but sustainable management policies will treat them (and culling) differently

Concerns throughout the country about tourism and its adverse impacts – crowded towns, clogged roads, dangerous drivers, filthy freedom campers, congested trails – were examined by Mike White in Noted in August. He asked if we need to limit the number of tourists coming here, a question supported by the statistics he produced.

A hundred years ago, 8000 overseas visitors came here (each year, presumably).

By the early 1960s, that had risen to 100,000; then 500,000 in the 1980s. Through the 1990s, international tourist numbers rocketed by 85% to 1.8 million. There were static years after the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, but recently things have boomed again. Encouraged by cheaper jet fuel, more airlines flying here, and the middle classes of China and India beginning to travel, there has been a 40% growth in overseas visitors in the past five years, to 3.9 million a year at present. That’s predicted to expand to 5.1 million by 2025. Nobody is suggesting the growth will stop there.

White acknowledged that tourism is our biggest earner, reaping $39 billion last year ($16 billion from overseas tourists – 20% of our exports – and $23 billion from Kiwis holidaying at home). More than 200,000 people are directly employed in tourism, about 8% of the workforce.

It’s unquestionably a cornerstone of the country’s economy.

But as with dairying, the backbone of the country’s economy, there is a down side. Continue reading “Too many tourists and cows – but sustainable management policies will treat them (and culling) differently”

The restoration of strangler’s mana will be important for his prison carers under Kelvin Davis’ reform programme

The unnamed bloke who strangled British backpacker Grace Millane in a case of “rough sex” taken too far (according to his defence lawyer) was found guilty of her murder yesterday.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

There was a time when he could expect to be sentenced to life imprisonment, a misnomer for a jail term that might result in his being detained at her majesty’s pleasure for 20 years or so – perhaps less.

This would make him a prisoner or prison inmate.  But not on Kelvin Davis’ watch as Minister of Corrections.

Davis is keen to have miscreants’ mana restored in establishments where prison officers are encouraged to regard the people in their custody not as a ‘prisoner’ or ‘offender’ but as ‘men in our care’ (at least in a prison for men).

We imagine transsexual inmates might take grave offence at being regarded as “men in our care”, but prison bosses seem to have anticipated this and in Tongariro Prison the flawed citizens in their care are being called “paihere”. Continue reading “The restoration of strangler’s mana will be important for his prison carers under Kelvin Davis’ reform programme”

Sending jailbirds to Heaven is one way of tackling the ethnic mix in prison – but we have further suggestions

Google may well need to spend more time in a Maori immersion course.

We suggest this because we have just asked it to translate “Hokai Rangi” for us.  This happens to be the name the Corrections Department has given to its widely publicised strategy for reducing (a) prison inmate numbers and (b) the high percentage of Maori in the prison population.

Google’s answer to our request for a translation, somewhat surprisingly, was one word:  Heaven.

In tune with the new philosophy being adopted to prison management, that simple answer suggests inmates henceforth should be known as Heavenly Creatures,

This may well be handy for the mana of someone who who has just been banged up for several years for, let’s say, aggravated robbery or some other form of serious violence.  When the offspring at home ask where dad has gone, mum can say he has gone to Heaven.

And no, you won’t have to be Maori to go – or be sent – to Heaven via the justice system.  Our prisons are about to be subjected to a comprehensive Maori makeover under Hōkai Rangi.  Until recently the strategy was to be the Māori Corrections strategy.  But late in the piece, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis and Corrections chief executive Christine Stevenson decided that what was good for Māori was good for everyone. Continue reading “Sending jailbirds to Heaven is one way of tackling the ethnic mix in prison – but we have further suggestions”

Law and order rules are being rewritten as Ardern bridles at accusations of leadership failure

It has been a momentous week for the country’s justice system and old-fashioned notions of “law and order”.

First, the Ardern government has said it is considering a report which  recommends the abolition of prisons.  A Maori-led review of the justice system is also urged by this report.

Second, the PM has intervened in a land dispute in Auckland and thereby over-ridden the role of the courts.  

Getting rid of prisons is the remedy ingeniously proposed to reduce the high ratio of Maori inmates in our prisons.

The proposal is contained in the Ināia Tonu Nei: Māori Justice Hui report (here) released during the week. Continue reading “Law and order rules are being rewritten as Ardern bridles at accusations of leadership failure”

Goodies for Northland: the gravy train – and Shane – ride in again

Yesterday was Friday so Shane Jones and his bag(s) of goodies should have been in ….

Oh, yes.  Back on his home patch of Northland and (no surprise) he returned to distribute  money.

Meningitis was there, too, as a political rival , Whangarei MP Shane Reti, pointed out.

An agenda item for next week’s Northland District Health Board meeting confirms that there has been another case of Meningitis W in Northland, Reti said in a press statement. 

“This brings the total to two this year after a seven month old child contracted the disease earlier in the year. There were seven cases of Meningitis W in Northland last year and an outbreak was declared on 8 November, resulting in one death.”

Reti had “grave concerns” that meningitis would flare up again over winter.

He called for the Ministry of Health to release the thousands of unused meningitis vaccines “that are slowly expiring” and make them immediately available free of charge to all Northland children. Continue reading “Goodies for Northland: the gravy train – and Shane – ride in again”

NZ First ministers announce more handouts from the PGF while Mahuta announces money for Maori

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones can’t be in two places at once and so had to share the headlines today, as more handouts from the Provincial Growth Fund were announced.

Jones took care of announcing a dip into the fund to boost economic growth in Otago.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis shared the limelight. He enthused about Clutha Gold being one of the 22 Great Rides of Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail “and we’re delighted to be encouraging more people to get on a bike and experience the beauty of Central Otago through this investment,” he said.


The press statement says the PGF will provide a “grant” of $6.5m to the project and the Government’s Cycle Trail Enhancement and Extension Fund will provide an additional $1.5 million.

A press statement from the office of the Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau,  meanwhile, drew attention to a more modest bucket of PGF goodies for the Wairarapa.

In this case New Zealand First’s Ron Mark had the pleasure of making the announcement in Carterton. He is a former mayor of Carterton.

A “strategic investment into the development of whenua” was another announcement today.

Budget 2019 allocates $56.1 million over four years towards implementing the Whenua Māori Programme which Mahuta announced in February.  

We were alerted to these goings-on with taxpayers’ money by the Point of Order Trough Monitor, which keeps tabs on Beehive announcements of government spending, investments, handouts, giveaways – and so on.

The monitor was  triggered by: Continue reading “NZ First ministers announce more handouts from the PGF while Mahuta announces money for Maori”