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Shackin’ up with the Devil

Shackin’ up with the Devil

Hone Harawira
Leader of MANA and MP for Te Tai Tokerau

7 December 2011

The Maori Party is on the road - asking their members to let them go back into coalition with National because both Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples are desperate to not leave Parliament with the dodgy record that they have at the moment (Pete also said that he needs his ministerial salary to pay the mortgage on his new house).

Turia’s flagship was Whanau Ora. Launched after a big build-up by the Prime Minister himself, Whanau Ora got maximum publicity and became a new phrase in the public domain but in fact got very little.

Originally proposed as a $1 billion Maori welfare restoration programme, jealous Government Ministers forced Turia to turn it into a programme for all New Zealanders immediately reducing its effectiveness.

And then the budget got slashed to $134 million forcing Turia to have discretionary funding pulled from Maori providers around the country to prop up Whanau Ora, leading many to cut staff and at least one major provider, Amokura, to shut up shop all together. Before Whanau Ora came along, Amokura was one of Tura’s favourite Maori providers. After Whanau Ora it was dead.

Whanau Ora will limp on because Tariana is tough, but with limited funding it has become one of those programmes that Maori say is ‘designed to fail’.

Pita Sharples’ big-ticket item was Kaupapa Maori prisons. He wanted to turn Ngawha into one and promised major changes to corrections policy and practice to make prison management more tikanga based and more consistent with rehabilitation along Maori lines.

Unfortunately he forgot to ask the Minister of Corrections who made it clear that Ngawha would not become a kaupapa Maori facility, and who then embarked on a corrections programme to make prisoner’s lives even more miserable than they are right now. What Sharples ended up with was two halfway-houses.

Pete was also a great supporter of private prisons saying that that was the only way to get kaupapa Maori introduced into prisons. Again, clearly he didn’t get the approval of the Minister on this matter either because when the first contracts came out for private management of prisons, there was no mention of Kaupapa Maori in them at all.

Sharples might get a couple of programmes with Maori names, but there will be no substantive change in correction policy or practice because he is simply not taken seriously by anyone in cabinet.

And now the Maori Party is coming round to ask the membership to let them go back into coalition with National, so this might be the opportunity to ask them what’s in it for Maori?

Maybe they could ask National for $1 billion for Whanau Ora;
Or perhaps a commitment to having the Maori Focus Unit at Mangaroa run under Kaupapa Maori by 2012 and Ngawha prison under Kaupapa Maori by 2014;
Or dropping GST on food (seeing as how the Maori Party voted to increase it in 2010);
Or maybe $30 million of new money for Kura Kaupapa in 2012-2013 to make up for the $30 million that National gave to private schools in 2009-2010;
Or maybe the 1,000 Maori language teachers to back up their compulsorily available reo proposal;
Or what about stopping the sale of NZ assets that the Maori Party campaigned on;
Or maybe stopping the privatisation of schools that Pete is opposed to;

Actually, there's a whole heap of other points worth making, but I guess you gotta start somewhere...

Oh yeah - one other thing you might want to ask them - How come the only question they’re asking is what dress to wear for a wedding with National? Why aren’t they asking the members whether they want the Maori Party to get back together with Hone? Or Labour? Or the Greens?

Seems a bit short-sighted and narrow-minded to me, but there you go.


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