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WINZ Pays $207,500 for Maori advice

WINZ pays $207,500 for Maori advice, fails to meet targets

Work and Income New Zealand has failed to meet its own targets for Maori unemployment despite paying consultants over $200,000 for advice on improving Maori outcomes.

The information is contained in written answers to Green MP Rod Donald from Associate Minister of Work and Income, Peter McCardle. In July the Minister conceded that the portion of Maori on the Job Seeker register had risen to 29.43 percent despite WINZ setting a target of 27 percent.

McCardle has now revealed that WINZ paid $207,500 to Wira Gardiner and Hekia Parata to 'recommend the best options for providing on-going high-quality Maori advice to the Chief Executive and senior managers on improving outcomes for Maori and ensuring performance in the department's responsiveness to Maori issues'.

"WINZ' failure to meet its own targets for Maori indicates that either the expensive advice Christine Rankin obtained was useless or that she has failed to implement it," said Green MP Rod Donald.

"What is certain is that Christine Rankin refused to act on staff concerns about Maori issues at the time of the absorption of the Employment Service into WINZ.

"Internal papers I have obtained show that despite staff advising Christine Rankin that the draft organisational structure did not reflect the prominence of Maori issues and values, she decided not to appoint a new manager, Maori Perspectives and instead engaged Gardiner and Parata Ltd.

"This was a slap in the face for Maori staff within the organisation who felt that their advice had been dismissed out of hand and their experience counted for nothing.

"Christine Rankin's decision to 're-invent the wheel' has led to a deterioration in outcomes for Maori while she waited for the consultant's report.

"I now understand that the whole of the Maori perspective unit is being wound up at the end of September."

"A question mark also remains over the process for appointing Gardiner and Parata. While the Minister claims two firms were asked to provide proposals and quotes, Christine Rankin's announcement of their appointment occurred when she was still Chief Executive designate, indicating that she had moved swiftly to side-step her own staff and bring in the advice she wanted.

"I am currently seeking Gardiner and Parata's reports under the Official Information Act," he said.

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