How sustainable is life for Māori in Australia?
Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Maori Party Co-Leader | MP for Tamaki Makaurau
30 October 2012
The GC Factor : how sustainable is life for Māori in Australia?
Māori Party Co-leader, Dr Pita Sharples, is worried about some of the implications of the latest research from Paul Hamer (Māori in Australia: an update).
“Hamer concludes that Māori living in Australia make up at least 18% of all Māori, or around one in five”.
The 2011 Australian Census reveals a staggering 38.2% growth in the Māori population (from 92,912 to 128,434); but Paul Hamer suggests the total number may be as high as 160,000 due to undercounting.
“Like most Maori, we have whanau residing in Australia so I know all the push and pull factors which tempt our whānau overseas. Maintaining our connections with our whanaunga across the Tasman has become core to our whānau planning” said Dr Sharples.
“While the lure of the GC is strong and the availability of work being a key driver; the report tots up a list of risks and concerns in relation to life across the ditch. A particular concern is that unemployed, working age children of New Zealand parents are unable to access the benefits or training opportunities that their peers might; nor will they qualify for the 20% discount on paying upfront fees. The research suggests that Māori in Australia who have arrived since 2001 are disadvantaged in terms of access to the rights and entitlements that are restricted to permanent visa-holders and citizens”.
“Another aspect which comes up in the report is the dis-enfranchisement of Māori voters. The numbers of Māori voting represent only a fraction of all potentially eligible Māori voters in Australia; despite the majority of those surveyed maintaining eligibility to enrol (returned to New Zealand at least once in the previous year).”
“The evidence that Paul Hamer has produced provides a really strong basis for any whānau thinking of shifting to Australia. It’s all about the ‘push and pull’.
“The report comes at a time when Māori at home are taking a leading role in building the economy, through the impact of a $37b Māori economy.
"We are experiencing new opportunities to consolidate our own planning through Whānau Ora, we are making inroads on educational initiatives and training and the revitalisation of te reo is making steady progress. I only hope that all our whānau look around before the leap; and consider the consequences of falling into vulnerable situations so far from home”.