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Every Child Counts Political Pledge - Maori Party

Tiakina nga rangatahi, nga rangatira mo apopo.

Every Child Counts Political Pledge Turnbull House He Mano Ra : 1000 days to get it right for every child

We must care well for our children and young people for they are our leaders of tomorrow.

The Maori Party is delighted to join with Te Kahui Mana Ririki, UNICEF, Save the Children, Plunket, and Barnados to confirm indeed, that every child counts; every child is precious.

Some of you here may be aware that Metiria Turei and I have announced a Maori Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the status and wellbeing of Maori children.

Whether it be from a cultural, economic, demographic or social indicator, we have every reason to believe in the wisdom of the proverb passed down the generations: He taonga te tamaiti mo te whanau: the challenge for all children to be embraced; protected and treasured by our whanau.

We have seen that the most powerful opportunity for protecting our children is within the context of whanau, and specifically through the promotion of Whanau Ora. Whanau Ora is about building and maintaining the capability of whanau to be self-managing.

We know that the great majority of our families have an amazing capacity to live healthy lifestyles; to participate fully in society; to nurture one another, and to be resilient no matter what comes their way.

At the heart of the approach is the support to build whanau capability, to strengthen whanau connections, to support the development of whanau leadership and to enhance best outcomes for them. In this sense, we have been disappointed to see some of the rhetoric throughout this election campaign appears to demonise some of our whanau – implying they are incapable of feeding their own children; describing them as poor; robbing them of any hope.

We believe that our whanau must be seen as the place in which the children can grow. I do not accept that whanau are the problem.

Poverty is certainly a problem for Maori – and as such, we must be supported within our whanau to address those issues to find solutions. Our most important challenge is to restore our whanau to a place of self-belief and pride, that they can indeed provide for their own.

We believe the role of the state is to support families to uphold their responsibilities.

The Maori Party intends to do this by:

Seeking an end to whanau poverty by 2020; •Introducing a Cross-Government Accord (a ‘wellbeing framework’) to keep whanau free from all forms of abuse; including physical, financial, sexual and racist.

Establishing a $16 minimum wage;

Extending the Tax Credit for low-income families; •Enacting an annual power rebate for low-income whânau; installation of low-cost heating and insulating 10,000 low-income homes per year including rental properties.

Introducing an inequality impact statement to be written into all new legislation outlining the likely impact on our children.

Universal well child services to all children under six

Introducing legislation to encourage commercial banks to help meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their communities (the Community Reinvestment Bill).

We want whanau to have adequate income to enjoy the lives they value and to be supported to develop their potential.

Finally, in line with our focus on Whanau Ora we seek to establish a Ministry of Families inclusive of children, young people and whanau.

The new Ministry will include functions from the Families Commission, the Children’s Commission; Family and Community Services, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Child, Youth and Family.

The Maori Party wants to work with anyone who will help to support whanau aspirations - to create employment, stop hunger and homelessness, ensure all our children have access to a great education and ensure all our whânau have access to quality health services.

And most of all, we want a Government which will focus on our potential to do for ourselves. We have valued the relationships we have with the people in this room, who have made such a powerful and passionate commitment to caring for all our children.

We look forward to continuing to work together; in advancing He Mano Ra – 1000 days to get it right, in bringing all of our tamariki mokopuna into the sunlight and celebrating every child as the centre of our whanau; the hope of our nation’s tomorrow.

Authorised by Rahui Katene, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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