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Maori Party Supports TPK monitoring

16 March 2006

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader, Maori Party

Maori Party Supports TPK monitoring of other agencies - Dr Pita Sharples

A statement this morning, suggesting that TPK Chief Executive Leith Comer is shying away from his monitoring responsibilities should be a serious 'wake-up' call for the Minister of Maori Affairs, says the Maori Party.

"Today's comments from Mr Comer implying that he only wants to focus on being the nice guy is a real concern for this Parliament" said Dr Pita Sharples, co-leader of the Maori Party; and deputy Chair-person of the Maori Affairs Select Committee.

The comments from Mr Comer reported that 'he wants to move away from being the policeman of the state sector' to work more collaboratively with other state agencies.

The Ministry of Mäori Development Act 1991 legislated for TPK to undertake particular responsibilities to both "monitoring and liaising with, each department and agency that provides or has a responsibility to provide services to or for Mäori for the purpose of ensuring the adequacy of those services".

"You can't have it both ways. The legislation specifies two roles - good cop and bad cop - you can't pick and choose" stated Dr Sharples.

"The need for good information is vital" stated Dr Sharples. "When the United Nations Special Rapporteur reported on New Zealand's situation last year, a key concern for him was the lack of significant disaggregated statistical data identifying ethnicity" .

"His remarks were 'If you do not have the right data, you can not really target your social policy'. It is very disturbing that only three months later, it appears that Te Puni Kokiri is abdicating its statutory responsibilities to identify and report that data" stated Dr Sharples.

"The Maori Party is absolutely committed towards ensuring Te Puni Kokiri is able to meet its legislated responsibilities to promote improvement in education; training and employment; health and economic resource development" stated Dr Sharples.

"Over the years the operational responsibilities for these areas were devolved to mainstream departments. That did not mean TPK should just shut-up shop" said Dr Sharples. "The whole point of the legislation was to ensure TPK could guarantee to tangata whenua and the Crown, that taxpayer money was being spent effectively, to improve the position of Maori. If they can't do the mahi, they should be closed down" said Dr Sharples.

"To this end, we will be calling for an urgent inquiry into the capacity of TPK to undertake its monitoring functions. We want to know where the problem lies - is it the Chief Executive, is it the Minister, is it the Ministry, is it the Government?".

Background

According to the Ministry of Mäori Development Act 1991 -

5. Particular responsibilities of Ministry of Mäori Development

(1) The responsibilities of the Ministry of Mäori Development include- (a) Promoting increases in the levels of achievement attained by Mäori with respect to- (i) Education: (ii) Training and employment: (iii) Health: (iv) Economic resource development:

(b) Monitoring, and liaising with, each department and agency that provides or has a responsibility to provide services to or for Mäori for the purpose of ensuring the adequacy of those services.

ENDS

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