Waitangi Day and closing the gaps

Closing the gap between Maori and everyone else in terms of inequality in education, incarceration, poverty and employment was how the news media reported New Zealand’s national day on Tuesday.

With all the focus on things Maori, a visitor from overseas unaccustomed to how governments conduct our national day could be forgiven for thinking that Waitangi Day was exclusively a Maori day focussing on the claimed need for much more welfare.

The alleged inequality between Maori and non-Maori outcomes creates fertile ground for positive-discrimination policies, although Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ruled out resurrecting the former Labour Government’s “closing the gaps” policy implemented around 18 years ago.

That policy was heavily criticised at the time, most especially by way of a report titled “Maori Socio-Economic Disparity” by a senior analyst in the Department of Labour, Simon Chapple, which shows, among other things, that disadvantage is not to do with race.

Disadvantage in New Zealand is more closely tied to age, marital status, education, skills, and geographic location, than it is to ethnicity, the report said.

Constant citing of negative Maori social indicators implies nothing has changed in 18 years and raises questions about the effectiveness of policies intended to “close the gaps”.

The lack of improvement also gives rise to the suspicion that politicians are more interested in talking about the issue to increase support rather than doing anything to make any change.

The outpouring of concern on Waitangi Day about of inequality in education, incarceration, poverty and employment brings a risk that the Government may be blinded by those Maori leaders who speak the loudest and push themselves to the front of the line while those in the greatest need continue to miss out. 

Efforts to equalise outcomes between Maori and everyone else by focussing on “treaty partnership” continues to patronise and ignores the fact that Maori are already achieving without such interventions.

Maori wards supporters want to stop petitions

A coalition to promote the creation of Maori wards in Manawatu and Palmerston North has formed as we near our petition targets to force polls that could overturn the two councils' decisions.

Spokesperson and Palmerston North city councillor Aleisha Rutherford said on Saturday that more than 50 people attended the initial meeting, representing both councils, iwi, unions, Labour and the Green Party. See https://i.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/101148796/mori-ward-supporters-prepare-to-defend-decisions

We have found that the main strategy of people who want separate Maori wards is to stop the petitions and prevent affected citizens from having a vote.

We can also tell you after collecting signatures from thousands of people, that the people most affected, that is Maori roll voters, do not necessarily agree with being shunted into a Maori ward without consultation.

We think the councils at Palmerston North, Manawatu, Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatane, and Kaikoura should have put the case for Maori wards and talked to their ratepayers BEFORE inflicting the proposals on their areas.

The deadline to get the signatures of five percent of affected voters in all of the five areas is February 21.

Further signature collectors in Palmerston North and Kaikoura are most welcome. Feel free to volunteer by going to http://www.hobsonspledge.nz/create_the-wave

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