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Clark: release of Labour’s Maori Policy

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Sppech at the release of Labour’s Maori Policy

At

Tainui Novotel, Hamilton

2.45pm
Friday, 26 August 2005

Maoridom is experiencing an extraordinary renaissance in economic, social, and cultural development. Even twenty years ago, it would have been hard to foresee the development on every front which characterises the momentum in Maoridom today.

That momentum has gathered speed during the two terms of our Labour-led government.

Under Labour, unemployment in New Zealand has halved to the lowest rate in the western world – and it’s halved for Maori too.

In the year to June 1999, the Maori unemployment rate was 18.6 per cent. In the year to June 2005 it was 8.7 per cent. The numbers of Maori on the unemployment benefit have halved too.

All up more than 40,000 more Maori are in work under Labour. That’s making a huge difference to whanau and to household income.

Maori are showing their entrepreneurial flair. Even four years ago, the Maori commercial asset base was conservatively estimated to be worth nearly $9 billion. Overall, the Maori economy while still small, is comparatively profitable. Maori business exports at a significantly higher rate than does the New Zealand economy as a whole. The Maori Business Facilitation Service has helped establish more than 900 new Maori businesses since 1999.

Last year, the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 was passed enabling the transfer to Maori of around $750 million in assets and quota as a full and final settlement of Maori claims to commercial fishing, in accordance with the 1992 Fisheries Settlement. As well, there has been an aquaculture settlement on the same principles as the 1992 fisheries settlement.

Educational achievement is rising, and that is vital for getting into better paid jobs in future. Over 10,000 Maori graduated with a degree or higher level tertiary qualification from 2000-2003, including over sixty graduating with PhDs in 2003.

Across the country, 23,352 Maori trainees participated in the Modern apprenticeship and Industry Training schemes in 2004 - 1761 more trainees then the previous year.

At school, more Maori are leaving with qualifications – up from 65 per cent to 74 per cent in the past two years. Those with school qualifications higher than NCEA Level One grew from 39 per cent in 2002 to 47 per cent in 2004. Good work has been done around New Zealand through the establishment of the Crown-iwi education partnerships.

The Maori Television Service was launched in March 2004, to help protect and promote te reo Maori, and to ensure that Maori news, perspectives, and voices could be articulated through the medium of television.

And listeners of iwi radio can now tune into their local iwi station on the internet as a result of the launch of the Irirangi website.

In sports, we have Maori excelling on the world stage, and not only in rugby and league. Michael Campbell’s triumph in the US Golf Open was a stunning feat.

In arts and culture, Maori are helping to raise the profile of our nation to new heights through film and the performing and visual arts. Earlier this year, Taika Waititi’s ‘Two Cars, One Night’ - filmed at Te Kaha – was nominated for an Oscar, just as Keisha Castle-Hughes was for her role in ‘Whale Rider’.

Labour goes into this election with a proud record in promoting Maori development. In our next term, we will look to make further progress across a range of areas. As the Hui Taumata showed, there is enormous energy in Maoridom, and a recognition of the importance of Maori development for all New Zealand.

Strong governance structures are vital to the success and quality of Maori organisations. These structures must be able to be sustained over time. There is a need for more training so that skilled people are available to participate in management and governance in the many Maori organisations which now control significant assets and revenue flows.

Labour will continue to support the development and funding of governance courses to assist Maori organisations to have high quality governance and leadership.

Maori want to continue to develop their marine and land-based resources. Our government will review the role of the Crown Forest Rental Trust, the Maori Trust Office, and the Poutama Trust in terms of their future role in financing Maori economic development.

Business development is about building up a sustainable collective Maori economic base. It is about fostering enterprise opportunities for Maori in specific sectors of the economy, such as the primary industries in which Maori are already well established. Business development also means creating an enterprise culture amongst Maori which includes a focus on research and development.

We will continue to support initiatives such as the Maori Business Facilitation Service, and the Whanau Development Enterprise initiative.

Tourism is a sector with great potential for more Maori enterprise. Many visitors to New Zealand are interested in knowing more about Maori culture and heritage, and Maori enterprises are entering that niche as well as offering outdoor and adventure experiences.

Labour will continue to support Maori Regional Tourism Organisations and the National Maori Tourism Council to maximise opportunities for Maori in the tourism sector.

Three weeks ago, I announced Labour’s policy on the Treaty settlement process. Like governments which have gone before us, we have got on with historical Treaty settlements so that the wrongs of the past can be put right.

The time has come to set a realistic deadline for resolving those historical injustices so that our nation can move forward together. That’s in the interests of Maori and of New Zealand as a whole.

Where historical settlements have already occurred, they have given Maori a significant stake in their regions – as this hotel development and the growing role of Tainui in the Waikato economy demonstrates. Whole regions are benefiting from the investments being made by iwi in economic and social development.

To complete the process of reconciliation with the past, Labour’s policy is for all historical claims to be lodged by 1 September 2008 so that the settlement of historical claims can be completed.

That is a realistic target for completing a process which is complex and where justice must be done to both sides.

Labour also has a proud record of working for all New Zealanders over the past 5½ years in health, education, housing, and social development.

Our social policies stand alongside our economic policies in strengthening whanau. Healthy, well housed whanau with educational opportunities for their children are strong whanau.

More than 468,000 Maori are now enrolled in Primary Health Organisations. Through these PHOs, we are delivering affordable health care to all kaumatua aged 65 years and over, and rangatahi aged 24 years and under. Over the next two years, all other age groups will also become eligible for affordable doctors’ visits.

A quality public education system is crucial for giving our young people the skills they need to participate fully in society. Labour is making sure that every young child can access twenty hours a week free early childhood education by July 2007.

The first year at school is also vital to a child’s education. Over the next three years, we will employ an additional 1300 teachers so that every new entrant class at a school or kura has one teacher to only fifteen children.

Children’s health is crucial. Labour has ensured that all children can be vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis B. Doctors’ visits for all children are heavily subsidised and many are free. In our next term, we will increase to eight the number of visits for children to Wellchild providers, like Tamariki Ora and Plunket. As well, all new babies will have their hearing tested so that we can pick up permanent congenital hearing loss. And every child will get a free health check before they enter school so that we can pick up any issues which might affect children’s ability to learn.

We will continue to build on our many programmes which have achieved so much for Maori, such as:

- Building and acquiring new state houses, and developing kaumatua and papakainga housing;

- Providing access to mortgage insurance to support low income people into home ownership; and setting up the KiwiSaver scheme to help people save for their first homes;

- supporting quality education through kohanga, kura kaupapa, and wananga;

- investing heavily in industry training, and in Modern Apprenticeships;

- engaging with whanau, hapu, iwi and Maori communities in regional social development and economic planning and delivery; and

- supporting Maori language, arts, and culture through the kapa haka festivals, iwi radio, the Maori Television Service, and a range of another initiatives.

As well, Labour’s policies for family tax relief will be of great assistance to whanau raising children – the most important job in our society. We don’t believe in targeting tax relief to the wealthiest New Zealanders.

Labour believes in the importance of Maori representation and participation in New Zealand politics. As long as Maori choose to be on the Maori electoral rolls, the Maori seats should stay. It would be wrong for Parliament to legislate them away without a mandate from Maoridom.

Labour’s philosophy is that a rising tide should lift all boats. As the economy has done so much better, there has been more funding for the things which matter: our health and education services, and support for our whanau and kaumatua and kuia.

For the progress to continue, Maori need a strong presence inside the government, not a lone voice on the outer. Labour’s Maori MPs are strong voices for Maoridom, and many of our achievements with and for Maoridom have occurred because of their advocacy.

Every whanau, every family in New Zealand, shares the same dream for their young people: we all want them to reach their full potential. That’s what my party in government dedicates itself to. We know that working together we can build a society in which Maori, along with all New Zealanders, have a firm stake.

ENDS

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