Preliminary Special Rapporteur Findings Supported
Tariana Turia and Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leaders, Maori Party
25 November 2005
The Maori Party was pleased that the Special Rapporteur observed race relations in Aotearoa as being ‘favourable’, characterising the nature of the relationship between people as peaceful and tolerant.
Despite such positive relationships he noted the “significant disparities between Maori and Pakeha in regard to social and human development indicators”.
“We are interested that the Professor referred to the unequal power structure within which relationships with Maori were formed” stated Tariana Turia, co-leader Maori Party. When asked the question as to whether there was any evidence of so-called ‘Maori privilege’ the United Nations expert stated “none at all”. Expanding on his response, Professor Stavenhagen commented that the results of dispossession and unequal power relations are clearly visible, and it would be most unjust and unfair to label the outcomes of such injustice as ‘privilege’.
“The Maori Party has always said that they who have power, will determine outcomes for others” stated Mrs Turia. “I note that the Rapporteur refers to the issue of power, and it is perhaps time that those who have always been in power recognise that the patronising and paternalistic decisions they have made, in crafting solutions for Maori, need to end”.
“We Maori, will design our own solutions and our people, with the full support of the Maori Party, are prepared and willing to do that right now. If we need assistance, we will determine who we will get it from, and how we will use it.”
The Special Rapporteur also referred to the issue of institutional racism.
“This of course, is familiar to many of us as it is an issue which has been frequently raised amongst our people” stated Dr Pita Sharples. “The publication in 1986 of the document Puao-te-ata-tu which referred to institutional, cultural and personal racism, was a brave step for a Government and a Department [of Social Welfare] to recognise the part racism played in the creation of disparities”.
A key concern for the Special Rapporteur is the lack of significant disaggregated statistical data identifying ethnicity. He commented that “If you do not have the right data, you can not really target your social policy”. The focus on needs leads to a weighting on quantative data, limiting the ability for researchers to identify needs of indigenous people in comparison to the majority culture.
“The fact that Professor Stavenhagen observed a “surprising differential of ten years in life expectancy between Maori and Pakeha” and also recorded “widespread concern that the gap in social and economic conditions is actually growing larger and that an increasing proportion of Maori are being left behind” is a major issue for the progress of our nation” stated Tariana Turia, co-leader of the Maori Party.
“The irony of the minority Labour Government being pressured into dispensing with their Closing the Gaps programme, is that they are now reported to have advised the Rapporteur that the Gaps are closing, due to their efforts and the fact that they got rid of the programme”.
“How confusing is that” stated Mrs Turia.
“We were also disappointed that the Rapporteur told the media conference, that Dr Cullen had indicated twenty years was required to close the gaps” stated Dr Sharples. “In the September 2000 report by Peter Doone on Maori crime, it stated that in 1998, 51% of the prison population was Maori. In the Department of Corrections 2004/05 Annual Report, 51% of the prison population is Maori. What gap has closed?. Dr Cullen has a lot of work to do in the next fifteen years, because nothing has changed in the last five” stated Dr Sharples.
“The final word on this came from the Special Rapporteur, who advised that if these issues are recognised as the national importance that they should, then twenty years is too long to wait” noted Dr Sharples. “It is one generation. How long will Maori people tolerate this, as we have waited for justice, for more than one generation".
The Maori Party looks forward to being involved in the solutions, including commenting on the Government’s response to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which is due at the end of the year.