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Dr Pita Sharples, Maori Party Co-Leader: Budget Speech

Dr Pita Sharples, Maori Party Co-Leader: Budget Speech

19 May 2011

Mr Speaker:

The much-anticipated Zero Budget was always going to be difficult for the Maori Party.

Our Relationship and Confidence and Supply Agreement with the National Party binds us to support budget measures that we may not like or agree with.

This government came to power as an economic crisis rocked the world but over the last three months the exceptional circumstances of the Canterbury earthquakes and the Pike River disaster, have made the sharp edges even more precarious.

An economic recession always has the most direct impact on those who are already worst off. So many families who are on low incomes, in casual or unskilled work or unemployed, who have dependents, are hit first, and hit hardest.

On top of that, any budget cuts to restore the national economy will have the greatest effect on those who are most dependent on government support.

Many are Maori, and our philosophy of whanaungatanga requires us to support and advocate for them.

But the Maori Party stands on our kaupapa Maori for all New Zealanders. Manaakitanga and kotahitanga demand that we give priority to te pani me te rawakore – the alienated and the dispossessed. These are values handed down by our ancestors, that continue to define us as tangata whenua and as Maori.

We also look to our tikanga tuku iho for solutions to entrenched social and economic problems. The challenge for all of us can be expressed this way:

Whaia te rangatiratanga – seek control of our own destiny!

That is what drove the Maori Party to enter Parliament. And that is what the Maori Party is looking for in this Budget.

We see rangatiratanga in the Maori education budget. Education for Maori is the way we maintain our language and cultural heritage, and to pass it on to future generations.

Education is also a critical pathway out of the poverty trap. It enables individuals and families to seize the chance to learn new skills, gain new experiences, to support their families and make a greater contribution to their communities.

New Zealand’s education system has a responsibility to deliver education that nurtures the identity, language and culture of Maori learners.

This Budget delivers $60 million over the next three years to build more kura kaupapa Maori.

It provides three million dollars of new money over three years to support development of a new kaupapa Maori curriculum and resources. There are nine million dollars over four years to support iwi to develop school- and community-based Maori language learning.

And at long last, kura kaupapa Maori get the same support for school transport as other schools, with eight million dollars in this budget.

There are also 6.5 million dollars so all decile one to three primary schools can run family-based literacy programmes.

And seventeen million dollars over four years so another 20 schools can take up the Kotahitanga teacher training programme. Kotahitanga helps staff to become more aware of how cultural differences influence their effectiveness as teachers.

So even in tough times, this government is maintaining an investment in our future as a Treaty-based nation, through this education budget.

In Maori Affairs, we have given priority to three areas hei whai i te rangatiratanga:

- whanau ora

- te reo Maori

- te Tiriti o Waitangi in the constitution

Thirty million dollars over four years for whanau ora will maintain the momentum of this radical approach to government service delivery, which has been pioneered and driven forward by my colleague Tariana Turia. Whanau-centred services will be expanded into new areas to be served by eight new provider collectives.

Whanau ora calls for an integrated approach, requiring agencies to co-ordinate and collaborate, and thus it promises efficiencies in service delivery.

But the real promise of whanau ora is that it empowers whanau to take control of their destiny by taking responsibility for their situation. So instead of whanau being further disempowered by government agencies telling them how to live their lives, services are tailored to support the family to deal with the key issues as they see them.

With whanau themselves getting into the driving seat, support services will be more effective, and as whanau achieve rangatiratanga, the need for ongoing government support diminishes.

Also in the Maori Affairs budget, we have found two million dollars to maintain community language initiatives, while we follow through on Te Reo Mauriora – a report which charted a clear direction for revitalising te reo Maori.

Te Paepae Motuhake, the independent panellists who wrote the report, were quite clear that whanau themselves must take the primary responsibility for speaking Maori at home. The role of the government is to support. With this budget, we continue to do that, while we develop a new Maori language strategy.

Another two million dollars have been found to engage the nation in a discussion on New Zealand’s constitution. This is of great importance to Maori, because one of the issues on the table will be the place of the Treaty of Waitangi in our constitution.

Finally I must mention the settlement of a long-standing land issue near Taumarunui, with an appropriation of 250 thousand dollars to the Karanga Te Kere trustees. This compensates them for not having been included in earlier settlements of injustices resulting from perpetual leases imposed on Maori lands.

There were areas we have needed to respond to, which were in urgent need of attention – and I am thinking of the $12m my colleague, Tariana has secured for addressing the blight of rheumatic fever and the reallocation of $11m in the family violence field to focus on those who need it most – frontline services for families in crisis.

Meanwhile this government is following through on the work of the Maori Economic Taskforce, by establishing an independent panel to develop a Maori Economic Strategy. Iwi and Maori groups are actively involved in infrastructure development, such as Nga Pu Waea in the Rural Broadband Initiative; and in environmental protection, for example, fresh water rights and management, and the Emissions Trading Scheme. Treaty settlements continue apace. Iwi are looking for opportunities to invest in Public-Private Partnerships, and in exporting new products to new markets. So much has happened over the past three years.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party has been able to secure many gains, and to avoid some losses, by sitting at the government table and engaging with the issue through face-to-face debate.

There will be measures in this Budget that disappoint us, and that our supporters will oppose. But we must not lose sight of the significant gains we see here too.

The Maori Party’s manifesto at the last election called for the Government to borrow prudently to protect vulnerable citizens from the worst impacts of economic recession, and we believe the government has done that. Things could be a lot worse.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party will support this budget.


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