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Look Back To Move Forward

13 July 2006

Look Back To Move Forward

New Zealand First is calling on the Government to re-institute the services that were once provided by the old Department of Maori Affairs, and that were effective at helping Maori to help themselves.

“The dis-establishment of the Maori Affairs Department in 1989 was undertaken on the basis of a devolution of its services to mainstream departments and iwi,” said Maori Affairs spokesperson Pita Paraone.

“Seventeen years on, it’s clear that this policy has not been effective in providing the services that Maori need. Even a cursory glance at the social indicator statistics confirms that Maori are still clustered at the bottom of the heap.

“It’s not the fault of Te Puni Kokiri, as the mandate of that Ministry is to provide policy rather than services to individuals, families and communities. It’s also unfair to lay blame for the appalling statistics at the door of social service agencies, who are trying their best in the face of inadequate funding and resources.

“A comparison of the social indices before and after the termination of the Maori Affairs Department tells the sorry story. Maori child deaths, for example, jumped from 19 percent of the total to 52 percent. That is unacceptable and preventable.

“I urge the Government to consider looking to past successes for solutions to today’s problems, and refocus the resources, energy and attention through a revitalised department that facilitates, rather than hinders, the efforts of Maori to overcome disadvantage,” said Mr Paraone.

ENDS

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