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Harawira - Vote: Child, Youth and Family

Supplementary Estimates of Appropriations 2005/2006

Vote: Child, Youth and Family Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Tai Tokerau Tuesday 20 June 2006

Mr Speaker, I understand that amongst other things, the Supplementary Estimates list the changes in funding since the Budget, and often I hear, those changes mean funding cuts. What that means of course is that when the spotlight is on the Budget, the Treasurer can promise the earth, knowing he can make the cuts later when nobody is watching. Good politics probably, but hardly good leadership.

Mr Speaker, these Estimates can take into account policy shifts and reality checks, and they can even be used to respond to extraordinary actions of the moment, such as the tragic and preventable deaths of the twins over the weekend.

As usual, talkback radio has been freely accusing all and sundry over the epidemic of child abuse and murder, who did it and who's responsible for stopping it, and so knowing I would be speaking to this Bill today, I decided to have a look at the Supplementary Estimates for Child, Youth and Family.

And what did I find? Well, it would seem that the State has been so successful in putting an end to child abuse and promoting the well-being of children, young people and their families, that the supplementary estimates show funding has actually been cut.

For example, funding was withdrawn from the Prevention Services Output because of "a change in departmental structure in response to the first principles baseline review", whatever that means.

Then in another output, Family Wellbeing Services, we see a further $1.5m dollars slashed from services to improve life outcomes for children, young people and their families through programmes to prevent future harm and abuse.

And these cuts are being made while the statistics are telling us that in the 10 years, 1990 to 2000, 86 children were killed - 34 Pakeha, 42 Maori, 2 Indian, 3 Asian, 3 Pacific and 2 'others'. The nation is reeling from the double tragedy over the weekend, and we are all struggling to find the answers.

An unfortunate by-product of that debate is the rehashing of the names of other children whose deaths have also become burned into our souls. It is also inevitable that the names of Maori children who have been senselessly and sometimes brutally killed rise quickly in the public memory, and New Zealanders are quick to ask what Maori are doing to stop this trail of despicable murders, while somehow not being able to remember even one of the names of the many non-Maori kids killed during the same time.

But I don't dodge the question about Maori deaths because as a past chairman of a kohanga reo and current chairman of a kura kaupapa Maori, it is a question that is very, very close to my own heart.

There is much that is being done, and I am happy to acknowledge the work being done by iwi in my own home electorate. As part of a joint project known as Amokura, the iwi authorities of Ngapuhi, Te Aupouri, Ngati Kahu, Whaingaroa, Te Rarawa and Ngati Wai, have made a strong public statement to encourage and promote a culture of non-violence. And they haven't done it just by trying to lecture people either.

Last year, as their contribution to the Amokura project, Te Runanga o Whaingaroa launched a waka tete, to symbolise the value of women and to recognise in a special way, mana wahine, mana tane, mana tangata. And although the construction of the waka was overseen by internationally renowned carver and navigator, Hekenukumai Busby, women were also called in to help with the carving. The waka Uerangi projects the sense of unity between men and women, and the sanctity of the children borne by us all.

Another Amokura project was the launching of a series of Step Back concerts to promote non-violence, and the production of a series of radio stings like 'raising a hand don't make you a man', asking people to step back and think before their rage takes over.

And initiatives like this aren't just happening up north. Next week, Kahungunu launches their own Violence Free Strategy and Action Plan to help their iwi reject violence, because they want their actions to be based on meaningful and productive tikanga and kaupapa rather than simply adopt government's family violence prevention strategy which is not kaupapa based.

Mr Speaker, we need more of these initiatives - not less. We need all citizens of Aotearoa to step back and think, and to make the changes necessary to stop us lashing out.

Last summer, more than 6000 kids suffered from family violence, and for that 6000, last summer will be a holiday they will never forget. We must stop the blame, step back and think for a bit, and then step forward together with answers and resources.

Yes - there is much that is being done, but equally yes - there is much more that can be done, and we challenge this government to invest in positive action and flourishing communities, rather than take money away from those who desperately need it most. Kia ora koutou katoa


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