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Maori MPs Must Get Priorities Right

Maori MPs Must Get Priorities Right

Thursday 6 May 2004

Dr Muriel Newman Social Welfare

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today demanded to know why Maoridom's rights to a decent deal over the seabed and foreshore was more important than a child's fundamental right to a decent chance at life.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that of all children placed in the care of the Department of Child, Youth and Family as at March 2004, more than 39 percent were Maori," Dr Newman said.

"The Maori caucus is so busy promoting Labour's flawed seabed and foreshore legislation that it is ignoring the more important issue of ensuring that there is a future generation of Maori to benefit from it.

"Yesterday, Maori MP Dover Samuels told the `Dominion Post' that most Maori:

`want a roof over their head for their families, they want a job, they want security, they want good health services, they want their children to achieve...how relevant really is the foreshore and seabed in the overall scheme of things?'

"He was right: it is not relevant. What use is the seabed and foreshore to children who are no longer able to live with their whanau and are taken away from their homes - sometimes never to return?

"Yet what are Labour's Maori MPs doing? How can they reconcile the fact that, while promoting Labour's legislation as a great deal for Maori, 1,918 Maori children are so at risk that the State has had to place them in care?

"Welfare dependency, family breakdown and risks to children are the biggest threats facing Maori society today - not ownership of the seabed and foreshore.

"I am calling on the Maori caucus to change its priorities. It has already failed Maori on the foreshore, and on welfare dependency. The very least it could do is try to ensure that the next generation of Maori has a chance to succeed," Dr Newman said.


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