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Strengthening Management & Governance of Maori

19 January 2004
Hon. John Tamihere

Strengthening Management and Governance of Maori Organisations

Speech at the launch of Te Puni Kokiri's Strengthening Management and Governance Programme, Nga Whare Waatea Marae, Auckland, Monday, January 19, 11am
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As Maori we need to ensure that our State-funded organisations have credibility, integrity and accountability. We must be transparent to the highest levels of scrutiny – not second best, but the best of the best. We deserve nothing less and must demand nothing less.

The Strengthening Management and Governance programme aims to deliver just that.

The programme will:
- Strengthen the competency and accountability of Maori organisations involved in Government contracts.
- Help Maori organisations identify paths to develop their institutional governance and management capacity.
- Identify and grow a critical mass of strong Maori organisations as models for effective governance and management.

The programme's four key objectives are to:
- Ensure that Maori organisations involved in the delivery of Government contracts are competent, are able to deliver high quality results, and account for their spending through robust governance and management.
- Increase confidence in the competency and accountability of Maori organisations.
- Provide assurance that Government funding of Maori organisations is targeted appropriately.
- Contribute to the growth of strong Maori organisations.

The programme acknowledges that as you build competency capabilities among disadvantaged communities, you will have some administrative and management problems. But we know from local and international experience that you get the best bang for your buck from having disadvantaged communities managing themselves out of that disadvantage. As they do that, pretty soon those communities will come to the limits of their skill sets, and that is where issues of accountability and management can arise.

If we have the systems in place to help communities and organisations develop the skills and processes to manage their way through the next level, then a lot of those difficulties won't occur. What we need are sustainable management systems that deliver credibility, accountability and integrity.

I totally reject the notion that the Maori way of doing things means that Maori should not be exempt from the standards, ethics and controls that any other organisation or business is subject to. There is nothing Maori about having your fingers in the till.

Under no circumstances should a person in a position of authority make decisions benefiting close relations. That is not tikanga, that's nepotism. To use "Maori culture" as an excuse for unethical conduct degrades that culture. We must ensure that rewards go to those with greatest merit, not those with the closest relationship to those who control the purse strings.

Of course we always hear and read about the worst cases. The headlines will always be about the Maori organisation that misappropriates money or conducts itself in a less than ethical manner – they won't be about the hundreds of Maori organisations out there doing a great job for their communities and achieving fantastic results.

And of course a lack of control on spending is not confined to Maori organisations – I don't think Renshaw and Edwards claimed any Maori lineage – but the problem is that as Maori we all risk being tarred with the same brush as the minority who are wrongdoers.

For example when I was running the Waipareira Trust, a Maori trust in Hamilton went belly-up – and all of a sudden all my creditors at Waipareira wanted payment within seven days. That's unfair, but it is the reality.

While mismanagement is not exclusive to Maori organisations, there is greater risk of it occurring if we are not vigilant. Because we lack significant institutional experience in managing funding on anything greater than a fairly small scale, we must make sure we have the systems in place while we build that experience and expertise.

This programme is about acknowledging that Maori are on the way up, and on the way up we require a number of supports that others may take for granted.

Twenty-six Maori organisations will participate in a trial of the programme. Organisations in the trial will have significant responsibilities for service delivery or asset management, and which have yearly revenue of $800,000 or more in Government contracts.

The programme trial will begin this month with eight Maori organisations selected from the Auckland and Counties Manukau area. They are: Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust, Te Wananga o Aronui, Ngati Qhatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board, Tamaki Ki Raro Trust, Raukura Hauora o Tainui, Manukau Urban Maori Authority, Ideal Success and Huakina Development Trust.

Further organisations will join the trial in following months in Whangarei, Hamilton, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Rotorua and Christchurch. The full programme will begin in July this year, with organisations with annual revenue of $100,000 or more eligible to participate in the full programme. I expect that the programme may involve about 300 organisations in the medium term.

The organisations involved will be diverse, covering contracts for services to Government agencies such as Child, Youth and Family, the Ministry of Social Development, the Department of Corrections, the Ministry of Health, the Community Employment Group and Housing New Zealand.

The programme is made of three main elements:
- An independent analysis of an organisation's governance and management arrangements and performance. This will highlight strengths and weaknesses, identify possible areas of risk and suggest interventions to eliminate them.
- Development with tailored strategies to meet the organisation's governance and management needs.
- Relationships with public and private sector organisations to provide funding, support or specialist advice.

Those organisations which are found to have sound governance and management capacity may only require minor development, but others may require sustained and intensive courses of action over the medium to long term.

The Government will provide $520,000 funding for the pilot and $2 million for the programme's first financial year (2004-05). This isn't new funding – simply existing funding which has been retargeted, and I am confident that it is an investment that will be repaid many times over in the benefits it brings to Maori organisations throughout the country.

The programme can give us confidence that our organisations are delivering the best for our communities; it can give the Government confidence that it is get the best value for its money, and it can give the taxpayer confidence that Maori organisations will be subject to significant external vetting. As we strive for excellence, the programme will provide valuable support in ensuring that we get there.


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