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The state of Maori Affairs, the things that kept Maori awake

The state of Maori Affairs - the things that kept Maori awake at night

As we approach 2019 the National Maori Authority Ngangaru, wanted to find out what was both worrying Maori and where they saw the opportunities for change in the year ahead. Like many New Zealanders Maori struggle with the changing times and there is a high degree of uncertainty when it comes to social and economic issues. The National Maori Authority, through itsmaoriwverywhere.com database surveyed 800 Maori with 781 responding to a series of simple questions (a very high result).

“It has been a long year for many people and a number of issues have been in the news. From the state of our rivers and lakes to homelessness and from suicide and mental health to the economy. Like all New Zealanders Maori are worried about a number of things but, at the same time, remain hopeful.” Matthew Tukaki, Authority Chair and New Zealand Maori Council Executive Director has said.

“So we wanted to know what keeps our people up at night and the answers might just shock a lot of non-Maori but will make a lot of sense to Maori.” He said

The top five things that concern Maori are:
1. Mounting debt and financial insecurity (26%)
2. Housing affordability, homelessness (21%)
3. State of rivers and lakes / concern for the land (19%)
4. The number of Maori children in State Care (16%)
5. The number of Maori in prison (9%) & (equal) The rising suicide rate and the mental health system (9%)
Mounting debt and financial insecurity (26%)

“Mounting debt and financial insecurity is the chief concern for a lot of Maori. They are concerned that the cost of living is increasing and they are not always seeing that reflected in their wage packets. Generally Maori are more likely to be involved in the low skilled and low wage growth side of the economy. Many expressed a concern that they were often forced to borrow money from whanau and friends to keep above their heads above water while others have turned to high interest pay day lender type organisations.” Tukaki said

Housing affordability, homelessness (21%)

“Many Maori continue to be concerned about the fact they cannot get onto the home ownership ladder but many were just as concerned for their children and grandchildren. Many cannot reconcile the fact we embrace overseas investors and people from foreign countries having been able to buy into the housing market and yet Maori, the first nations people, can barely remain on a level playing field. In addition those who rent cannot see a way out and continue to be frustrated by Housing New Zealand and landlords. Either not enough stock or the continuous struggle with rental affordability.”

State of rivers and lakes / concern for the land (19%)

“As guardians of the land and water Maori feel angered at the state of our water ways. Rivers that once could be fished or swum in are now so polluted it is too dangerous even to wade. Maori remain concerned that they feel not enough is being done to arrest the pollution or target those who are taking advantage of the resources.”

The number of Maori children in State Care (16%)

“Maori continue to be concerned about the care and protection of their children. They feel that not enough is being done to ensure Maori children remain in the care of their whanau. Some even likened to the state of the system allowing an entire stolen generation (in reference to the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander example) to occur right under our noses.”

The number of Maori in prison (9%) & (equal) The rising suicide rate and the mental health system (9%)

“Maori continue to be concerned about the high numbers of our people in prison and also liken sentencing as a game of two halves -where Maori will always receive a harsher sentence than non-Maori. They are concerned that still not enough is being done to reduce the number of those who re-offend. In terms of the mental health suicide prevention sectors – Maori continue to believe their voices are not being heard even though they now have the highest suicide rate per head of population in the world and are one of the largest consumers of the mental health system.”

Maori did see opportunity on the horizon in 2019: Maori representation, resurgent language and culture
1. Proud of the resurgence of Te Reo and wanted to see greater focus and investment on both Te Reo and Culture
2. Hopeful that with more Maori in the Parliament that more could be done for them
3. Believed that a more unified voice could be a circuit breaker when it came to a range of social challenges
Other highlights from the survey: Regional and remote challenges:

1. Maori in regional or remote areas were concerned about the withdrawal of essential services or the length of time it took for essential services to reach communities in need
2. Maori in regional and remote areas were concerned about hit and miss nature of both internet coverage and mobile phone coverage
3. Maori in regional and remote areas were concerned about ailing infrastructure from roads and bridges to pavements and parks
“In terms of the challenges that face our people the concern that both the National Maori Authority and New Zealand Maori Council have is the lack of representation at the table when it comes to the co-design of services and policies. The truth is that until Maori are either in control of the services being delivered to them, are involved in co-design or leading the service implementation then we will continue to struggle to get ahead.” Matthew Tukaki said

“The data out recently showing that only 6 out of 77 Board Directors of State Owned Enterprises were Maori or that few Maori are in tier one of the senior civil service is evidence that not only are we not at the table but the reality that this needs to change. New Zealand Maori Council and the National Maori Authority will continue to push that agenda into 2019 and hold agencies and Government departments to account for their performance through-out the next year.” He said

The survey results and data will be published in a broader document called “Maori Affairs: what the people say” in January of 2019 and will be sent to all Ministers and Heads of Government departments.

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