Governments with their different policies come and go but policies that further partnership, protection, consultation, and compensation for Maori continue. Why? Much responsibility for the exponential growth of biculturalism can be traced to the government’s Maori department, Te Puni Kokiri, and its "policy wahanga".
The "policy wahanga" aims to improve “citizenship outcomes for Maori in key social and economic domains through whanau-centred approaches; and on the ongoing Treaty of Waitangi based partnership relationships between the Crown and hapu and iwi”, according to the Te Puni Kokiri website. (1)
The unit aims to create "an enabling environment for Maori to maintain, develop and practice their own distinctive culture and value system";
It aims to: Ensure that “Government decision making and processes are informed by treaty consideration and are reflective of the aim, aspirations and realities of Maori communities and that the Maori position as the Treaty Partner is secured and enhanced";
Create “an enabling environment by which Maori can maximise the gain from their assets and to position Maori to capitalise on opportunities for current and future economic prosperity”;
Provide “a strong platform of information and analysis to inform the development of policy, and providing assurance over, and advice to improve, whole of Government effectiveness for Maori”.
The policy wahanga's influence extends “across a range of Maori-specific initiatives, and widely across the state sector to ensure that other agencies consider, and address, improving the quality of outcomes for whanau, hapu, iwi and Maori”. (1)
While Te Puni Kokiri’s policy wahanga ensures elected representatives and the state sector continue with policies that foster partnership, protection, consultation, and compensation for Maori, the department’s relationships and information section seeks to create such outcomes throughout the country through 10 regions with regional teams and a national office to engage with tribal bodies and Maori communities.
Meanwhile, the whanau and social policy section monitors Whanau Ora and other social services.
Te Puni Kokiri was allocated a total amount of $210-million in the 2013-14 Vote Maori Affairs appropriations. This included $77 million for the promotion of Maori language and culture through Te Mangai Paho and Maori Television Services, Te Putahi Paoho, and the Maori Language Commission; $53-million for Whanau Ora; and $23-million was for policy advice. (2)
The government has had a Minister of Maori Affairs and a Maori Affairs department since responsible government began in 1853. The Minister of Maori Affairs supervised the Maori Affairs Department, while having input into other portfolios to the extent that they affect Maori.
The Department of Maori affairs was broken up in 1989. Its policy function was vested in Manata Maori (the Ministry of Maori affairs), and it’s operational and service functions in Te Tira Ahu Ihu (the Iwi Transition Agency), which was to manage their transfer to mainstream agencies or devolution to tribe-based assemblies over a period of five years.
A change of government late in 1990 meant the enabling Runanga a Iwi Act, enacted in mid-1990, was repealed in mid-1991, the Iwi Transition Agency was abolished, Manatu Maori was beefed up into Te Puni Kokiri (the Ministry of Maori Development), and most service functions were mainstreamed or contracted out. (3).
Section 5 of the Ministry of Maori Development Act 1991 outlines the statutory responsibilities of the ministry, which include increasing achievement by Maori in education, training and employment, health, and economic resource development
While burgeoning biculturalism may be Te Puni Kokiri’s aim, bumbling incompetence seems to be the nature of the department’s game.
The department's administration of Whanau Ora funds was so loose that 10 Dunedin Mongrel Mobsters were able to “redirect” $20,000 of Government funding for the''We Against Violence Trust' to a cannabis-selling venture.
One of those convicted said he aimed to get $115,000 in Whanau Ora funding in a year. Surveillance revealed that he was being mentored through the funding process by senior gang members elsewhere in the country, and he in turn was mentoring another local gang on getting funding.
Money received by the trust from Te Puni Kokiri included $41,400 in December 2011 and $10,350 last April. The trust also received a $5000 grant from the Southland District Health Board in December 2011 to promote healthy eating and establish a community-based garden. (4)
Some insight into the inner workings of Te Puni Kokiri was provided by demographer John Robinson, a researcher who the Crown Forestry Rental Trust told to make his findings fit treatyist orthodoxy or not be paid. He wrote:
One consequence of programmes based on a vague concept of “culture” and “by Maori for Maori” is a drop in standards. One task I had while working for the CEO of Te Puni Kokiri was to observe a “Maori approach to welfare provision”. I saw people sitting around drinking cups of tea, with children playing around. For myself, I like a family or relaxed atmosphere, but there was no evidence of anything being done – and these people were paid to do a job. Since “western” standards do not apply to “indigenous” efforts they just said they were uncomfortable with my presence and after one day I was off the job. I never did find out what they did with all that government funding other than sit around in a well-appointed set of offices. (5)
It would appear that political appointees and employees working in Te Puni Kokiri controlling the above-stated policy areas is possibly the single biggest reason that the government-driven Maori privilege behemoth continues irrespective of any political administration and would seem unstoppable.
Biculturalism grows despite numerous very public Te Puni Kokiri failures, such as a gang rorting Whanau Ora, the poor uptake of use of the Maori language, and increasing unpopularity of Maori immersion schools. The $210-million a year spent on Te Puni Kokiri appears to be an epic waste of money.
Besides why, after 173 years of shared history, should a separate Maori department still exist?
Footnote: Further information on how much separate treatment costs, the Whanau Ora funding trough, how wealthy tribes pay little tax, the so-called Maori asset base, Maori drawing disproportionately more welfare, blood quantum, separate Maori seats, the Auckland Maori Statutory Board, the Maori Council, and its grievance strategy, Maori immersion schooling, privatising state wealth into new tribal elites, devolved welfare funding, race-based affirmative action, the Maori Party and MMP, power and money through co-governance, and the model for racially separate states within a state, is available in "Twisting the Treaty -- a tribal grab for wealth and power", available from a good bookshop near you or from Tross Publishing.
1. Policy Wahanga, Te Puni Kokiri, http://www.tpk.govt.nz/en/about/who-we-are/structure/policy/
2. Vote Maori Affairs, http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/2013/estimates/est13maoaff.pdf
3. Matua Rautia: The Report on the Kohanga Reo Claim. http://www.waitangi-tribunal.govt.nz/doclibrary/public/report_pdfs/Wai2336-download-report-18102012.pdf
4. Gang's misuse of grant money 'isolated case', http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/250412/gangs-misuse-grant-money-isolated-case
5. p48, John Robinson, The Corruption of NZ Democracy, Tross Publishing, 2011