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More than Māori Language Week Required for Full Partnership

More than Māori Language Week required for a full partnership

The Equality Network (EN) are calling for the Government to commit to a full partnership between Māori and the Crown to fulfil the promise of Te Tirīti, and insist that this means more than just promoting Māori Language Week once a year.

Members of the Network, a non-partisan organisation of 37 members united by the vision of the a vision of a more equal Aotearoa New Zealand, say that the Government must commit to fulfilling its obligations under Te Tirīti.

EN Member UNICEF National Advocacy Manager, Dr. Prudence Stone, moves like Māori Language Week are positive, there are many aspects where, as a society, we continue to risk breaching Te Tirīti - for example in the justice space where policies have a greater impact on Māori. “It is well publicised that there is an unconscious bias with Māori youth comprising 59 percent of youth convicted in courts, despite being around 20 percent of the youth population. This means that of the 1,900 youth prosecutions last year, a sobering 1,200 of these were Māori. The National Party’s new ‘Youth Justice policy’ will therefore be inequitable. Yet the policy statement made no mention of Māori, nor of having worked with rangatahi or iwi community groups in considering this policy before announcing it.”

Dr. Stone, who is also a member of He Mana tō ia Tamaiti/Every Child Counts asserts that that dishonouring Te Tirīti that has made whānau and iwi poor, leaving iwi without their full capital to invest in their own communities, affecting the wellbeing of young children. “Settlement of Te Tirīti claims are costly and keep iwi leadership and management occupied. Iwi that have settled are able to move on and initiate investment in their communities, lifting families into long term prosperity. It is vital that settlement of all Te Tirīti claims are a priority of Crown and Government to ensure all iwi can return to an equitable capital investment base as soon as possible.”

She says there are many simple solutions to ensuring that Te Tirīti is honoured including; asking questions when new policy is made, such as whether decisions will affect possession and ownership rights outlined in Article 2 and whether they will affect Māori’s equal status and rights as citizens; considering whether programmes and services will operate in ways that respect cultural practices and beliefs; and providing adequate Māori inclusion and participation in governance including adequate board representation, partnership and consultation with tribal councils. “We have to start with whanaungatanga [relationship building] with the mana whenua [Māori who hold the mana of an area]. Once good relationship are formed it’;s about letting mana whenua know what decisions are getting made, then listening carefully for the way they see decision-making could work.”

Dr. Stone is also calling for the Government to move beyond Māori Language Week, and to teach te reo in all schools across the country, as a key step towards honouring Te Tirīti. “The more reo is learnt and spoken in our workforces, our marketplaces, as well as our homes, the more Māori worldview deepens the New Zealand culture across its everyday life. Te reo should be taught in every school, and this starts with professional training for every teacher.”

Anaru Fraser, Kaiwhakahaere Matua-General Manager of Hui E! Community Aotearoa says that the presence of Te Reo Māori is just one way that we can honour Te Tirīti, and the level of te reo spoken in the community indicates genuine engagement and partnership. “It shows a practical outcome of commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.”

Fraser, who hails from Hauraki, also states that we need to ensure that citizen participation in government processes for Māori, and all citizens, includes genuine engagement and partnership with those government agencies. He says Government needs to widen its scope to progress the 17 global sustainable development goals that our Government signed up to in September 2015, including goals focusing on gender equality; peace, justice and strong institutions; climate action; reduced inequalities; and sustainable cities and communities. “If we want to steadily increase wellbeing, stability and hope for all we must find ways to ensure the government knows what we stand for.”

Contributor to the Equality Network, and Gisborne District Councillor, Josh Wharehinga says that as a society we need to be looking beyond Māori Language Week to honour Te Tirīti. He says there are clear, embedded biases in our system that prejudice Māori that need to be addressed. “The manifestation of these biases are apparent in the poor Māori statistics in every field; health, justice, education, language and so on. There are many things that reinforce these biases but they can all be traced up to the establishment of our laws.”

Wharehinga, who is of Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata, Te Arawa and Ngāti Wai descent insists that our legislative processes need to go under the microscope. He says that one solution could be to establish an Upper House made up of 50 percent Māori representatives and 50 percent Crown representatives. “Their job would be to review any new laws coming through to make sure they are fair for all. They’d have to power to kick back those laws to the house of Representatives to rework. This way we can ensure that the rules are fair and just for all, and that these past sins that breached Te Tirīti will no longer be repeated.”


The Equality Network (EN) is a non-partisan organisation of 37 members united by the vision of the a vision of a more equal Aotearoa New Zealand. Drawing on the growing body of evidence that shows more equal societies do better for their people, the Network was established in 2014. The EN seeks to improve the wellbeing of all citizens of Aotearoa by reducing income inequalities that currently exist.

The EN recently released its election statement outlining three key ideas for a fairer country, ideas that should be enacted immediately.

1) Income for all that provides the necessities of life through a Living Wage and fairer income support;

2) A Government-funded house-building programme to help address the housing crisis and provide everyone with healthy, affordable homes with long-term tenure; and

3) A tax on very high levels of wealth and higher top tax rates on the highest incomes to ensure that everyone contributes their fair share and enables our families and whānau to thrive.

For more information and our other policies, visit our website, or email info@equalitynetwork.org.nz

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