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"Too Slow Too Furious"

"Too Slow Too Furious"

Government Too Slow on the Uptake about Maori Unemployment Disparities says Hone Harawira

"I ask the Minister of Maori Affairs a question and I get an answer six days later," said Hone Harawira, Maori Party MP for Tai Tokerau. "If that's any indication of government's responsiveness to Maori needs, then we really are in deep trouble."

"Two months ago, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Professor Rodolfo Stavenhagen, said of New Zealand that "despite the Government's intention to reduce the inequalities in the country, persistent disparities between Maori and Pakeha continue to exist in a number of areas", said Mr Harawira.

"And then last month, the government's own Ministry of Health tabled a report saying exactly the same thing."

"So although Minister Horomia accuses me of making a 'terrible error'; being 'deceptive'; 'ignoring facts' and 'misleading the public', unfortunately his talk rings hollow when measured against comments from experts".

"The record shows clearly that ever since the release of the UN Rapporteur's report, I have been asking what government is doing to reduce the disparities between Maori and non-Maori" explained Mr Harawira.

"Last Thursday the issue was unemployment and the Ministry of Social Development was telling us that the percentage of Maori on the Unemployment Benefit by region, were:

End of March 2001 End of March 2006
East Coast 49.7% 64.1%
Bay of Plenty 49.1% 66.2%
Northland 53.1% 64.1%

"Don't get me wrong" said Mr Harawira. "We're really pleased that Maori are getting jobs, but why should we continue to accept second best? Why should we be happy that after 160 years of Westminster government, we're still in the worst situation of all unemployed people?".

"The facts are clear. On the East Coast, in the Bay of Plenty and in Northland, the differences between Maori and non-Maori on the unemployment benefit have increased, and we want to know why?"

"The other hidden fact - the one that isn't clear - is how many of these jobs are casual" said Mr Harawira. "We know that people who once could survive on one job, now have to take on one, two, or three jobs to make ends meet - and that isn't good enough".

"It eats into whanau time, it creates instability and stress, and who wants to live in a household like that? The children must suffer".

"No offence to Parekura," said Mr Harawira, " but this isn't about numbers and percentages - it's about making real changes to the status of Maori in their homeland."

"We haven't got all the answers, but the Maori Party wants to work with people interested in solutions. We want to reduce inequality, we want to advance Maori aspirations, and we want to make sure that Maori can participate fully in employment in this nation. And we'd welcome any good ideas the Minister has to help achieve this goal".

"But let's not muck around," said Mr Harawira "Six days is too long to answer a question, and six generations is way too long to wait for an answer."

Hansard Record of Question time; Thursday 25 May 2006

Hone Harawira: Could the Minister please explain, in light of comments in this House associating Vote Māori Affairs baseline funding with the fact that Māori unemployment has dropped from a record high of 18.9 percent to 8.6 percent, why on the East Coast, his own electorate, in 2001, 50 percent of the population receiving the unemployment benefit were Māori, and in March 2006 that percentage had increased to 64 percent; why in Waiariki the percentage increase in Māori unemployment grew from 49 percent in 2001 to 66 percent in 2006; and why in my own electorate of Te Tai Tokerau the percentage increase in Māori unemployment also grew, from 53 percent in 2001 to 64 percent in 2006-and what will Te Puni Kōkiri be doing to address these disparities?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: A number of issues are relevant to the statistical assumptions of my learned friend from Te Tai Tokerau.


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