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Key - Speech to Federation of Maori Authorities

National Party Leader

9 November 2007

Speech to the
Federation of Maori Authorities Conference
Kingsgate Hotel, Hamilton, 8.30pm



E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga rangatira ma, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.
It’s a pleasure to be here today at the opening of your conference. Thank you for your invitation.
I would like to acknowledge your chairman Peter Charleton and your Chief Executive and Deputy Chairman Paul Morgan, as well as the many other distinguished people here tonight.

A year ago this month I had the great privilege of becoming leader of the National Party.

I said then that the mission of my leadership would be to raise people’s sights, to be fearless and imaginative in policies that encourage people to set their aspirations higher.

I’m pleased then to be addressing people who so clearly share those goals.

Your federation is dedicated to promoting the development and economic advancement of Maori organisations. You are leaders for the aspirations of Maori throughout New Zealand.

Your 130 or so member organisations are at the forefront of the Maori Renaissance and they are at the forefront of entrepreneurial activity in our country.

Over the last twelve months I have met with many of you and have observed many of the great initiatives you are involved in. I’ve been pleased to catch up with some of you tonight and to meet others for the first time.

Your successes are successes for all New Zealanders.

I applaud it. I want to lead a government that celebrates these achievements and ensures there are plenty more of them.

So today I’m going to talk about how a National Government would foster Maori economic development in New Zealand. Firstly by ensuring we have the economic policy settings to encourage entrepreneurial success, secondly by prioritising education and finally by advancing the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process.

Economic development

Let me start by saying that I am impatient to see all Maori standing strong, economically independent, and fulfilling the complete promise of their potential.

I know Maori share that impatience.

Like most Kiwis, Maori don’t want their fortunes to rest on the benevolent actions of a generous government. Because in the long-run the government will never and should never be the main source of wealth for any group of New Zealanders.

Economic development is, as you know, essential for delivering on Maori potential, for growing the Maori asset base and improving Maori incomes.

I’m extremely optimistic about the prospects for economic development for Maori and for New Zealanders as a whole.

There are two main reasons for this optimism. One, our people have what it takes and two; our country has unique strengths that will set it apart in our rapidly changing world.

As Kiwis we’re pretty proud of our reputation as hard-working innovators with a number eight wire approach. Well, that reputation is borne out by the facts. And it is a reputation that Maori in particular have done a great deal to earn.

I was interested to learn that according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2006, Maori are the most entrepreneurial population in New Zealand. This in the third most entrepreneurial country in the world.

One in three Maori aged 35 – 44 is a business entrepreneur.

One in four Maori are expecting to launch a start-up in the next four years.

And on top of this there are a great number of collectively owned Maori enterprises like those represented by many of you here tonight.

Those entrepreneurs and that enterprising approach will provide the fuel for new and exciting business developments in the years ahead.

I’m confident that New Zealand will continue to be a great place for Kiwis to be putting their enterprise to use.

Our growing and ever-wealthier neighbours in India and China will demand more of our protein – be that fish, meat or dairy.

Environmentally aware consumers will demand sustainably-produced products from good global citizens like New Zealand.

In an increasingly crowded world, tourists will want to travel to safe and green havens like ours at the bottom of the world.

These changing demands play to New Zealand’s inherent strengths as an agriculturally focused, environmentally and tourist-friendly spot on the globe.

Already Maori Authorities are involved in many of these ‘good news’ areas of the New Zealand economy.

Land-related development in primary industries, sustainable environmentally conscious business practice, tourism related ventures - Maori have a stake in all of those.

That stake may be in fisheries, forestry, horticulture or aquaculture. It may be a small single farm stake or it may be a large stake in a diversified enterprise with international equity interests. Whatever the stake, the potential is there.

The question for National then is what can we do to maximise the chances these ventures, be they Maori or otherwise, have of success?

We will listen to what business wants. That is fair rules, adequate opportunities and policy frameworks that support the efforts of individuals and businesses to get ahead.

We are convinced that some fundamental issues must be confronted if we are to deliver those things. You know what those issues are.

An infrastructure deficit throughout the country. Inadequate transport networks and inadequate broadband networks are already stifling the potential of too many businesses.

Skilled people deserting the country in droves. One in seven Maori now live in Australia, 87% of whom say their employment is better since going there.

Excessive levels of bureaucracy and over-regulation. I’m sure everyone in this room has a silly compliance story to tell.

One in five Kiwis leaving school with entirely inadequate levels of literacy and numeracy. How can we have world-beating businesses if our future workers don’t even have these most basic skills?

National is committed to tackling these problems and growing the productive capacity of New Zealand’s economy.

We will have policies that encourage and reward hard work and innovation.
I’ve already announced several of these and it’s worth going over them today.

We will start by progressively cutting personal taxes.

We will take a disciplined approach to government spending and in doing so will keep interest rates lower. Kiwis work too hard for the government to waste their money.

We will deal with the regulatory and compliance cost issues which smother New Zealand business.

We will invest in the infrastructure this country so desperately needs to grow.

We will do all of this while preserving and enhancing the clean green environment that is such a big part of the image New Zealand sells to the world.

We have already committed to a policy target of cutting our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050. You can also expect to hear more from us on clean water, forests and on the environmental issues so important to “Brand New Zealand” and the Kiwi way of life.

Finally, we will have an unwavering focus on education.

I’m confident that in improving these aspects of the New Zealand business environment, we will see Maori organisations going from strength to strength.

Education

I think the last of those points, a focus on education, is the most important and I want to spend some time talking about it today.

Education will be a vital area of emphasis in any government I have the privilege of leading.

It is the best investment we can make in our most important asset – our people, our children.

The government can make a bigger contribution to Maori development by improving the education and skills of Maori people than it can ever make through one-off business development grants or Treaty settlement payments.

You will be aware of the work Rob McLeod presented at the Hui Taumata in 2005. He illustrated the point I’m making with this example.

At the time of his presentation there were approximately 600,000 Maori in New Zealand and Treaty settlements at that time had totalled around $715 million. Rob calculated that that represented a one-off sum of about $1200 per Maori. He further calculated that at an after-tax return of say 4%, each Maori recipient could earn $48 per year from that sum.

That sum would do very little to address the more than $10,000 disparity between average incomes for Maori and non-Maori.

Education can do much more to reduce that disparity.

Improving Maori education and skill levels will improve Maori employment opportunities; generate higher incomes for Maori; and improve the human resource that Maori businesses have to call upon.

It’s an essential ingredient to economic development.

The National Party is convinced New Zealand can improve our education system for all New Zealanders.

As it is, New Zealand is not placing a high enough priority on education.

We simply can’t afford to put up with some of the mediocre results we are getting.

It’s not good enough that only two out of three Maori kids take part in any pre-school education.

It’s not good enough that one in five New Zealand kids, a staggering 150,000 children, leave school unable to read, write or do maths anywhere near their chronological age.

Nor is it acceptable that 46% of Maori boys and 42% of Maori girls leave school without even the most basic qualification.

It is not good enough. We must do better, and we can.

National is committed to ensuring that every young New Zealander receives a quality education that provides them with the skills for future success.

In primary schools, our National Standards policy will ensure that every child at every school has their reading, writing, and maths skills tested every year.

This will oblige schools and teachers to identify struggling children as soon as possible and to do something about their lack of progress before it’s too late.

The policy will also require schools to give every parent a clear, meaningful report about their children’s progress in reading, writing, and maths. Mum and Dad need to know how their child is doing, especially if they are falling to the back of the class.

National will also bring hands-on trades and apprenticeship training back where it belongs – in the heart of our school system.
Our Trades in School policy includes developing school-based apprenticeships, providing more practical learning opportunities outside the classroom, and developing specialist trades academies.
National will make school relevant and interesting for all young New Zealanders, whether they have a trade focus or an academic focus.
We’re also committed to ensuring our tertiary education system provides Kiwis with the mix of skills that the businesses of the future will demand.
Between now and the next election, I will have plenty more policy to announce in the education area. I will be open to whatever works and whatever gets results.

There are some exciting possibilities for innovation and improvement.

National is proud of its record in helping bring on-stream Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa and Wananga. In many instances, these institutions are catering better for Maori children than their mainstream counterparts, and we value the role they play in our education system.

It’s also worth noting that what happens, and what is taught in our schools, universities and polytechnics, will also make an important contribution to developing our shared sense of nationhood.

It’s a joy to see the ease with which Pakeha kids are using te reo and discussing Maori history and culture. That is a product of a changed school system and it’s a good change we can all be proud of. It’s something I’m keen to see continued.


Advancing the Treaty Settlement Process

Finally today I want to spend a few minutes discussing National’s approach to the Treaty settlement process.

In a sense it’s a shame to finish this speech by focusing on historical issues.

But the fact is that Government attitudes to New Zealand’s history will determine the tone of relationships with Maori into the future.

National knows that the settlement of outstanding injustices must occur so that forward-looking relationships between the Crown and iwi can be restored in line with the honourable intent of the Treaty.

To that end, let me assure you that National is absolutely committed to advancing and hastening the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process.

I have been alarmed at the lack of settlement progress in the past eight years.

Mark Burton’s tenure as Treaty Negotiations Minister, and that of Margaret Wilson before him, were marked by a complete absence of the political will necessary to bring treaty claims to settlement.

Helen Clark implicitly acknowledged this failure in her recent reshuffle by moving Mark Burton out of her Ministry onto the backbench.

The Labour Government has taken just one settlement from negotiation to final completion during the past eight years. By comparison, 10 settlements were started and completed under the previous National Government.

There have also been unacceptable delays in passing the empowering legislation needed to bring settlements to fruition. In the 1990s it took National on average nine months to pass settlement legislation. Under Labour that same process has taken on average almost 21 months.

While these claims involve complex and difficult issues, their delayed resolution only adds to the sense of injustice.

The delays in settlement progress have meant that Maori have had to wait longer before gaining control over settlement assets, in turn delaying their development opportunities.

National is committed to working quickly and effectively to achieve just and durable settlement outcomes. We will properly resource the settlement process in the Waitangi Tribunal, and the negotiation and settlement of claims.

We are aware that under Labour, trust in the Crown has been seriously eroded. In recent years the Waitangi Tribunal has criticised the Crown for having “the worst negotiating practice the Tribunal has ever seen”; for not being an “honest broker” and for repeatedly failing to act in good faith.

National believes the Treaty settlement process must be conducted with a commitment to fairness, affordability, and durability. We believe an open transparent negotiating process will greatly help settlement negotiations and will in turn help restore faith in the Crown.

Most importantly, I want settlements to be progressed so iwi can spend their time looking forward, ready to grasp future opportunities.

That’s where FOMA comes in. You are all about making the most of future opportunity and growing the Maori asset base.

Your mission is like that of any other business body – to promote development, to encourage good management practice and in doing so to advance the interests of your constituent members.

It’s that side of things – maximising the opportunities available to Maori organisations and Maori more generally - that I have been keen to focus on today.

My message today is that National shares the ambition you have for your members and your people.

From what I have learnt about Maori tradition, beliefs, and language, I sense that Maori have a highly aspirational culture.

The tradition of the great migration from Hawaiki to Aotearoa; the belief in the extraordinary feats of Maui; the proverbs and metaphors of the reo, all speak of optimism, courage, enterprise, and achievement.

It is that aspiration, that never-fading ambition that I want to appeal to in every Kiwi citizen.

I have no doubt that our future is a bright one if we make some brave choices and keep our sights raised high.

That’s the kind of government I want to lead.

I look forward to working with you in future and I wish you a great conference.

Thank you.

Ends

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