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Maori Party Must Refocus

Thursday, 1 June, 2006

Maori Party Must Refocus

The Maori Party is using unemployment percentages in the East Coast, Bay of Plenty and Northland to highlight disparities between Maori and non-Maori. Welfare commentator, Lindsay Mitchell, explains why this approach is misleading.

"Although the Maori share of unemployment has risen slightly in each region the absolute numbers are well down. Across the three regions there are 8,517 or 61 percent fewer Maori on the unemployment benefit now than five years ago."

"It is odd that Hone Harawira is jumping up and down about so many Maori moving off the dole but has nothing to say about the increasing numbers on the DPB."

" In those regions and nationally the percentage and absolute number of Maori on the DPB has risen. Maori now make up 40 percent of the DPB caseload. Surely this disparity is worthy of comment. "

"The Maori Party have yet to realise that the DPB is a bigger problem for their people than the dole. Recent history has shown if the jobs are there Maori will move off the unemployment benefit. But DPB homes have remained workless and, for Maori, they stay workless for longer. Ministry of Social Development research showed that the factors associated with long benefit durations for children included;

- having first contact with the benefit system at birth - living with a sole caregiver at first contact - first appearing with a primary beneficiary who was female, Maori or aged under twenty.

*The factors are inter-related.

At May 2005 Maori made up 46 percent of those who had been on the DPB continuously for more than ten years."

"Given this degree of long-term dependence the Maori Party badly needs to refocus its concerns."



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