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Drug-free development better than grievance

Jim Anderton, Progressive Leader
12 November 2003

Drug-free development more important than grievance

The tragic death of a 15-year old running a tinny house is a wake-up call for both Maori and Pakeha individuals, families, communities and institutions, Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton says.

“This is not only a shocking incident and tragedy, it must lead us all to question our social, economic and constitutional priorities,” he said.

Jim Anderton chairs the Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy and is the Minister for Economic Development. He says the death of 15-year old Michael Heremaia is tragic evidence that there are much more important priorities than the historical grievance industry.

“It is worrying me and it is worrying many Maori I talk to that while we are concentrating on the grievance industry, whether it be Treaty issues, seabed and foreshore or whatever, problems like a 15-year old running a tinny house are passed by without acknowledging their true significance," Jim Anderton said.

“What’s going to stop Maori teenagers getting involved in these activities?

"Maori economic development, to produce more jobs and financial security for Maori families. Getting tough on drugs. Early intervention to turn kids away from a life of crime. Maori families and communities, taking ownership of both the problems and the solutions," he said.

"The grievance industry isn't one of the real solutions. It’s a matter of justice that Treaty breaches are resolved, but we have to acknowledge that if every Treaty grievance was settled tomorrow, it wouldn’t do anything for 15-year olds running tinny houses, and it wouldn’t do that much for overall Maori economic development either," the Progressive leader said.

“This boy’s death is a wake-up call which we shouldn't have needed. If Maori were able to shift some of the resource and effort that is going into settling grievances, then some of the most urgent problems might get more attention.

"I pledge, as Minister for Economic Development, to go anywhere at any time to try to bring immediate resources to bear on urgent problems which are identified by local Maori communities as hindering their economic development opportunities.

"This is an issue for all New Zealanders of good faith to try to understand and commit to improve," Jim Anderton said.


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