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Well-being a Matter of Perception

‘Well-being a Matter of Perception’ says Tariana Turia

Co-leader, Maori Party and Spokesperson on Whanau Development

Tuesday 8 August 2006

Labour’s claims that New Zealand’s social well-being ‘continues to improve’ have been challenged by the Maori Party.

“It’s the same, tired old record” said Mrs Turia. “The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer”.

“We know that there is little political mileage to be gained from advocating for the poor” said Mrs Turia. “But we in the Maori Party will never turn away”.

The report notes that between 2000 and 2004, there was an increase of three percentage points in the proportion of the population experiencing severe hardship.

“These figures illustrate even more, the desperate urgency for Government to address the stark face of poverty, which is manifest in significant income inequalities” said Mrs Turia.

“We are also concerned that the illusion of ‘improved social well-being’ is a long way off from the reality of life for many Maori, Pasifika and New Zealanders of other ethnic populations”.

“We are, however, thrilled at the determined efforts that tangata whenua have made towards making the best of in some cases, a bad situation. We commend those parents and whanau of Maori and Pacific children, who have been responsible for increasing early childhood participation rates”.

“We pay tribute to those parents and whanau of Maori and Pasifika school students who have supported their children, to acquire greater qualifications by the time they have left school”

“Such success, however, is balanced by the significant finding that the fall in tertiary participation rates between 2004 and 2005 was greater for Maori than non-Maori, and that overall tertiary enrolments have declined. This is a clear result of Labour’s unprecedented attack upon Te Wananga o Aotearoa” said Mrs Turia.

“The high percentage of Maori who could understand te reo Maori (59%) and the high proportion of some ethnic groups who could hold an everyday conversation in their home language (81% of Koreans, 76% of Cambodians, 72% of Vietnamese, 69% of Chinese) are very positive indicators of cultural vitality” said Mrs Turia.

“A particularly disturbing indicator, however, was the disproportionately high rates for Maori as a result of workplace injury” stated Mrs Turia. “And the huge differences in the rates of victimisation for Maori are chilling. I wonder why it is, that as a nation, we overlook the prevalence of such injuries in the Maori workforce, and as victims of crime”.

“The tragic fatalities that we have witnessed in the recent spate of motor accidents are also highlighted in the report by the finding that Maori are far more likely than other ethnic groups to die in motor accidents”.

“We were also concerned to learn that a very high proportion of survey respondents (72%) thought Asian people were subject to a ‘great dea’l or ‘some’ discrimination, and that 60% of respondents throught there were high rates of discrimination experienced by people who were overweight or on welfare”.

“Such scores make a mockery of the headlines that this social report is positive” said Mrs Turia. “While there are indeed, some achievements that are to celebrated, the picture, on balance, is still far from rosy”.

“We salute the resilience of the people. Much of the success for the positive indicators in this report, is as a result of the efforts of the people themselves” ended Mrs Turia.

Background Information

“Rich are getting Richer; the Poor are getting Poorer”

- The proportion of low-income households spending more than 30% of their income on housing is over twice as high as it was in 1988;

- Income inequality has increased since 1988

- the proportion of the population with low incomes was substantially higher in 2004 than in 1988 [19% of that population living below the 60% threshold, compared with 12% in 1988].

Social Well-being an Illusion for Maori, Pacific and Other Ethnicities

- There are marked ethnic differences in life expectancy, with a difference of 8.2 years between Maori males (69 years) and non-Maori (77.2) and even more dramatically, a difference of 8.8 years between Maori females (73.2 years) and non-Maori (81.9 years);

- The suicide rate for Maori youth in 2003 was 28.6 per 100,000 compared with the non-Maori rate of 13.7 per 100,000.

- Maori are also much more likely than other ethnic groups to die in motor accidents (17 per 100,000 compared to 11 per 100,000 for European and other; and 12 per 100,000 for Pacific).

- Maori women have the highest smoking rates (48%) followed by Maori men (39%);

- Obesity is more prevalent among Pacific people and Maori than other ethnic groups; and is particularly high for children aged 5-14 years [Pacific children: 31% and 26 % for females and males; 17% and 16% for Maori; and European 6 and 5%].

- Workplace injury claim rates are higher for Māori (190 per 1,000 FTEs) than for other ethnic groups. In 2004, the next highest rate was for Pacific peoples (154 per 1,000 FTEs), followed by Europeans (124 per 1,000 FTEs).

- In 2000, Maori were far more likely to be victims of crime (41%) than Pacific peoples (28%) and Europeans (29%). Over 20% of Maori have experienced violent victimisation, compared to just 8% of European; with the differences particularly marked for Maori women (49%) compared to European women (24%) and Pacific (23%).

- Asian peoples and people in other ethnic groups, excluding Asians, reported the highest rates of loneliness (both 36%).

- Pacific peoples had the lowest level of internet access in the home (39%) ; and Maori peple had the lowest telephone access rates in 2004 (84%)

Some Progress to be celebrated

- The gap in ethnic participation rates has narrowed in recent years as a result of a faster growth in attendance by Pacific and Maori children (98% of European children attend early childhood services; 90% of Maori and 85% of Pacific in 2005).

- The proportion of Māori school leavers with qualifications higher than NCEA Level 1 increased from 45 percent in 2003 to 47 percent in 2004. Among Pacific school leavers, the proportion with higher qualifications increased from 59 percent in 2003 to 61 percent in 2004.


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