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Gap between Maori and non-Maori still too large

Sandra Lee A major TPK report released this week reveals that despite Treaty Settlements, the gap between Maori and non-Maori is still too large, said deputy leader of the Alliance and leader of Mana Motuhake Sandra Lee.

The report (Maori In The New Zealand Economy) points to an increase in Maori self-employment, and it hopes that recent treaty settlement's will increase the economic base of Maori. But it says that Maori unemployment is still too high.

'The real indicators of Maori well-being in the economy are not the measure of cash and assets through treaty settlements. The real measure is whether income from those assets is trickling down.

'My fear is that the new treaty settlement structures that have been set up are more likely to result in a 'trickle off' than a 'trickle down'.

'Maori unemployment has tripled since 1987, rising from 9.5% in late 1987 to 27.3% in early 1992, and still continues at twice the national average. Maori health statistics are still some of the worst ! in the country. And the average Maori income per household is still way below that of a non-Maori household.

'In 1998, 45.2% of Maori households earned less than $31,400, compared to 39.4% of non-Maori households. A greater proportion of Maori (36.3%) than non-Maori (14.3%) were reliant on government benefits.

'This government thinks it can abandon its responsibility to Maori by setting up treaty settlements structures that in fact are unlikely to be responsive to the needs of the majority of Maori.'The Fis heries Commission is a classic example. After seven years, thirteen Commissioners, appointed rather than elected by Maori, have failed to deliver a model of allocation that will deliver to all Maori.

'Urban Maori authorities who provide valuable social services to Maori in the cities have been forced to litigate to have their need for resources recognised.

'This report also shows that Maori living in rural areas cannot make much head-way economically.

'The Minister of Maori Affairs, Tau Henare is attempting a bit of political window dressing in election year. The truth is the gap between Maori and non-Maori in terms of wealth and economic well-being is still too large.

'Until we have a government prepared to tackle high Maori unemployment, to invest in the regions where Maori live to create job opportunities, and to allow Maori to elect their own representatives in the Treaty process, the gap between Maori and non-Maori will continue to be unacceptable,' said Sandra Lee.


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