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Maori Development Ministry in freefall

Hon Georgina te Heuheu MP National Party Maori Affairs Spokeswoman

07 November 2003

Maori Development Ministry in freefall

"Te Puni Kokiri's failure to convince some Maori Affairs Select Committee members that it can be brought up to scratch, is further evidence of a Ministry in deep trouble with a Minister not on top of his job," says National Party Maori Affairs spokeswoman Georgina te Heuheu.

"Answers by Chief Executive, Leith Comer, to questions about the steps being taken to remedy the situation following a damning State Services Review, lead me to the conclusion that this is a Ministry in freefall," says Mrs te Heuheu.

"That's a tragedy for a once effective Ministry, one that used to build homes for Maori, and have Welfare Officers regularly visiting Maori families and communities. A Ministry that once oversaw significant training programmes involving many young Maori men and women.

"But if this agency cannot properly develop itself into an effective Ministry, able to support the constitutional mechanisms by which the Parliament holds the Government to account, then it certainly has no right to say it is capable of developing and supporting the aspirations of Maori individuals and communities," she says.

Following the debacle over Te Mangai Paho earlier in the year, the SSC Review found that:

* The quality of the Ministry's Crown entity monitoring system was inadequate, and
* The quality of the Ministerial support system was inadequate

"The development of a central agency advisory group consisting of Treasury, SSC and DPMC officials to 'baby-sit' the CEO, gives me no confidence this Ministry is capable of the leadership it proclaims for itself.

"Nothing in Mr Comer's responses reassure me.

"In fact, the outlook is so bleak one has to ask, and indeed some Maori leaders are already asking, is there a future at all for this Ministry? Is the Ministry a help or a hindrance to Maori aspirations?

"Ultimately it comes back to the Minister of Maori Affairs and whether he is capable of exercising the leadership required to get this Ministry fully functioning and back on its feet.

"It's no surprise that this Ministry figures prominently in the Awatere-Huata Report.

"TPK's role in that public sector failure, once again shows this is a Ministry in deep trouble," says Mrs te Heuheu.

Ends

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