MICHAEL BASSETT: Kelvin Davis exposes the flaws in Labour’s Maori policy

  • Michael Bassett writes –

When Kelvin Davis addressed a conference of indigenous Australians yesterday it is doubtful whether the Minister for Maori Crown Relations intended to damage the credibility of his government’s Maori policies, but that’s what he did. If the New Zealand Herald is to be believed, first, he used an incorrect translation of the Treaty of Waitangi instead of the Sir Hugh Kawharu translation that the previous Labour government celebrated at the 150th anniversary of its signing in 1990. Davis claimed that Article Three of the Treaty guaranteed Maori “the same rights and privileges of British subjects”.

In fact, Article Three guarantees Maori “the same rights and duties of citizenship”. Small difference in wording, I agree, but the mention of “duties” is significant when it comes to Maori rights. These days all too many Maori spokespeople prefer to interpret the Treaty as promising Maori an armchair ride to prosperity rather than something they have to work for, like other New Zealanders.

Davis is one of them. In his speech he went on to explain that under the Treaty Maori had

‘… the right to an education that led to outcomes as good as those of any other New Zealander, and the right to a health system that allowed Maori to live as long as any other New Zealander. The focus had to be on equity of outcomes, not just equality”.

Continue reading “MICHAEL BASSETT: Kelvin Davis exposes the flaws in Labour’s Maori policy”

LINDSAY MITCHELL: NZ’s rarely reported plummeting prison population


Appalling crime story after appalling crime story gets reported.

But media rarely report on the big decline in New Zealand’s prison population.

There are various possible explanations for the reduction including demographic change, policy changes in police and justice procedures, and/or less imprisonable crime being committed. Government politicians claim less crime is being committed, especially by youth, “according to the statistics”. Continue reading “LINDSAY MITCHELL: NZ’s rarely reported plummeting prison population”

Genetic strength, insults against Māori MPs (on one side of the House) and an analysis of the critical doctrinal divide

The Māori Party, without any apparent blush, makes a provocative claim about the genetic superiority of Māori on its website.

The claim is to be found in a section which sets out the party’s sports policy:

 “It is a known fact that Māori genetic makeup is stronger than others.”

This genetic strength perhaps attenuates when Māori join the ACT or National Parties and express opinions that challenge the Government line on what must be done in partnership with Maori because of obligations supposedly demanded by the Treaty of Waitangi.

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson earlier this year said ACT leader David Seymour, of Ngāpuhi descent, claimed to be Māori – but “he’s just a useless Māori, that’s all”.

“Absolutely [he’s] Māori but maybe just the most useless advocate for Māori we’ve ever seen.”

He subsequently told Morning Report he did not regret his comment because Seymour was a “dangerous politician” whose views must be challenged. Continue reading “Genetic strength, insults against Māori MPs (on one side of the House) and an analysis of the critical doctrinal divide”

Media focus on Davis’ advice against looking through a “vanilla lens” while Chhour’s questions go unanswered

It is tempting to liken the political hacks of the mainstream news media to piranha, rather than ever-vigilant watchdogs of the Fourth Estate.

With the exception of the NZ Herald, they have lamentably ill-served the voting public by failing to muster a whimper, let alone a snarl or a warning bark, about issues raised by the awarding of contracts to family members of Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

The hacks were aroused from their indifference to those contracts only when another watchdog – the Public Service Commission – announced it is looking into government departments’ management of the contracting process.   

On the other hand, the imagery of piranha seems apt when they engage in a feeding frenzy of the sort that followed the hapless Kelvin Davis’ derogatory – and racist – remarks about ACTs Karen Chhour.

Davis told Chhour (a Māori) she must look at things from a Māori perspective, not a Pakeha one.

“It’s no good looking at the world from a vanilla lens.” Continue reading “Media focus on Davis’ advice against looking through a “vanilla lens” while Chhour’s questions go unanswered”

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”