The blowout in the number of Māori benefit recipients to 56,500 is concerning and shows this Labour-led Government is failing Māori, National’s Māori Development spokesperson Jo Hayes says.
“There’s been an increase of over 11,000 Māori on the dole since this Government came into office, or almost 25 per cent. That’s equivalent to a town the size of Kaiapoi.
“Forty per cent of dole recipients now are Māori, the highest proportion in over five years.
“It isn’t kind or caring to let Māori languish on welfare. Employers are crying out for workers, so the number of people on benefits shouldn’t be skyrocketing.
“The number of Pākehā on the dole has increased too, but by 11 per cent, less than half the rate of the increase Māori have experienced. In absolute numbers, there are more Māori on the dole than Pākehā despite being a smaller proportion of the population.
“While the Government crows about low unemployment and a strong economy, it’s clear Māori just aren’t seeing that.
“Even proven initiatives like Whānau Ora that empower Māori to access health services and improve their lives aren’t being supported. This Government budgeted $80 million for Whānau Ora in Budget 2019 but still hasn’t distributed the funds to Commissioning Agencies, even diverting some of the money to government agencies.
“All this demonstrates is that Labour’s Māori Caucus is toothless and ineffective. Māori need a voice in areas like education, employment, health and welfare, and we’re just not being heard by this Government.”
The Government’s failure to distribute the lauded $80 million funding boost for Whānau Ora to Whānau Ora providers is yet another example of its inability to deliver, National’s Māori Development spokesperson Jo Hayes says.
“In this year’s Budget, the Government announced $80 million of funding after it ignored Whānau Ora last year and didn’t give commissioners the funds they needed to continue with the positive, successful work of the programme.
“But it appears that Budget 2019 will be yet another disappointment for whānau. Holding back budgeted funds means that, once again, much-needed support won’t be delivered by frontline navigators and whānau will miss out.
“Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare needs to front up and explain why he doesn’t want to give Commissioning Agencies the funds they need to carry out their work.
“Commissioning Agency Te Pou Matakana has publicly expressed dismay that money is being diverted away from the front line to administration costs and other Government departments.
“It’s disappointing that yet again, Labour’s Māori caucus isn’t supporting programmes that measurably improve outcomes for Māori and has let this fall by the wayside when they should be delivering for their communities.
“Whānau Ora was established by the previous National Government because we understood that families knew their own needs best, and it was important to give them the tools to realise their potential.
“This Labour-led Government is failing to deliver for Māori.”
National’s plan for a cancer agency will have transformative results for Māori, National’s Māori Development spokesperson Jo Hayes says.
“Māori suffer disproportionately from cancer, and are twice as likely both to have cancer and to die from cancer-related diseases than Pākehā.
“Part of the reason for this high mortality rate is down to late diagnoses, rather than the common misconception Māori present late to the doctor with symptoms.
“National’s cancer plan – an independent, expert-led cancer agency that’s recognised as the best way to ensure prevention, early detection and high-quality treatment, following international best practice and with the power to hold DHBs to account – will transform outcomes for Māori cancer sufferers.
“I’ve had personal experience of the heartbreaking consequences a late diagnosis can bring, and I want to ensure as many whānau as possible are saved the pain of losing a loved one when, if it had been caught earlier, their cancer could have been treatable.
“National will fund access to lifesaving treatments with the support of leading clinicians, ensuring that innovative and effective medicines reach the patients who need them most.
“All Kiwis should have access to the best possible cancer treatment. National’s plan will ensure that this happens.
“It’s about supporting whānau. Our bottom line is you.”
News that the Government has failed to fund a programme that supports Māori students into science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) subjects is extremely disappointing and shows a repeating pattern of de-prioritisation of our Māori students, National’s Māori Education spokesperson Jo Hayes says.
“The failure of the Government to support the popular, successful Pūhoro STEM Academy programme shows how it is continuing to fail Māori students. The Government must prioritise investing in STEM – particularly for our Māori students.
“With the increasing advances in science globally and the changing nature of jobs it is hard to see why funding for a programme like this can’t be prioritised.
“Not only has the Government failed to support this programme it has continually failed to prioritise Māori education. It has scrapped partnership schools which were improving Māori educational outcomes, axed national standards which highlighted struggling students so they could be supported
“Papers that were released recently also show that a lower proportion of Māori are accessing fees-free to take up tertiary study meaning that Māori students are at a disadvantage right through the education system under this Government.
“The Labour-led Government have also scrapped the Aspire scholarships which provided huge opportunities for young Māori to get ahead in education.
“Under National Māori students achieving NCEA Level 2 increased from 44 per cent to over 74 per cent - an increase of around 30 per cent. We are extremely concerned that these improvements will go backwards under this Government.
“The Associate Minister of Education who has the responsibility for Māori Education should prioritise this area. He should ensure that the Ministry meets with the provider early in the new year to try and ensure it gets the support it needs.”
‘European learners are the main recipients of fees-free’ is a headline the Minister of Education should be ashamed of, National’s Māori Education spokesperson Jo Hayes says.
“Papers released today by Minister Chris Hipkins show that a lower proportion of Māori are accessing fees-free to take up tertiary study. Māori make up 21 per cent of enrolments but only 17 per cent of fees-free recipients.
“When combined with a reduction in the overall number of students studying, including a large 1,188 drop at Wānanga compared with this time last year, this policy is shown to be a complete failure for Māori.
“The policy has also done nothing for the number of Māori in industry training, where fees-free enrolments remain similar to all Māori enrolments.
“UNICEF recently highlighted how our education system does not serve Māori well, and this Government is only furthering that inequality with its poorly targeted fees-free policy, closure of partnership schools and freezing of funding for Whānau Ora and Māori Development.
“Chris Hipkins needs to admit this flagship policy is a flop for Māori, and redirect the billions of dollars to where it’s actually needed.”
The Minister of Education’s mishandling of partnership schools deserves a ‘not achieved’ and proves he needs to stop his ideological crusade, National’s Education spokespeople Nikki Kaye and Jo Hayes say.
In the latest in a series of blunders, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has denied being served with a claim his treatment of partnership schools breaches the Treaty of Waitangi, despite confirmation from Crown Law such a claim has indeed been filed and served.
“It is not credible that Mr Hipkins didn’t know a Waitangi Tribunal claim had been lodged and served. The Minister is so blinkered New Zealand First will be offering him his own all-weather track soon”, says Ms Kaye.
“This is just the latest example of the Minister’s mismanagement of partnership schools and contempt for the whole process - he has already terminated 10 out of 11 partnership schools, most of which are in a state of limbo about whether they can open next year under another model.
“The Villa Education Trust is still waiting on the Minister to make a decision about the future of its school. It is clear the Minister has received a report and he needs to act swiftly to ensure the school and the students certainty for the Future.
“Prominent Māori leader Sir Toby Curtis has reported schools are fearful of the Minister, saying they have been muzzled and have felt the Minister’s foot on their throats”, National’s spokesperson for Māori Education Jo Hayes says.
“He is arrogantly pressing ahead with legislation to axe partnership schools, tabling amendments to bypass the select committee process and remove the ability for the public and schools to have their say.
“And Kelvin Davis, the Minister responsible for protecting Māori education, has removed himself entirely from the process claiming a conflict of interest and abandoning his responsibilities to young Māori learners. In reality, the only conflict Minister Davis has is his promise to resign when those schools close.
“In the next fortnight it is likely Labour will be bringing this Bill to scrap the schools back to Parliament.”
“The Ministers response to my Parliamentary question indicates another level of incompetence by him and potentially other agencies. Mr Hipkins needs to seriously consider the Tribunal claim and reflect on the appropriateness of proceeding with the legislation to remove the partnership model,” Ms Kaye concludes.
National’s Māori Education spokesperson Jo Hayes says that with Dr Lance O’Sullivan joining the fight for partnership schools and National’s commitment to reinstating partnership schools if they are scrapped, the Government must not go ahead with axing them.
“We know that partnership schools make a real difference to the lives of kids who haven’t found success in mainstream schools, including hundreds of young Māori and Pasifika,” Ms Hayes says.
“But this Government is putting ideology and the unions before the children and promising to shut the schools down. National is committed to not letting that happen.
“We continue to stand by Māori leaders like Sir Toby Curtis, Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Pem Bird and now Dr Lance O’Sullivan, who have voiced their strong opposition to the Government’s policy to get rid of the schools.
“These leaders, like National, know that so many young Māori have thrived at partnership schools and we applaud them for being brave enough to speak out against the Government’s heartless policy.
“It’s disappointing we can’t say the same for the Māori MPs in the Coalition Government who are failing our young Māori by removing a ladder to their success.
“National is committed to making sure that ladder remains. It’s not too late for the Government to show that same commitment and let partnership schools stay open.”
National’s Māori Education spokesperson Jo Hayes and Māori Development spokesperson Nuk Korako are challenging Labour’s Māori MPs to do what’s right for young Māori.
“In light of the Treaty of Waitangi claim lodged by respected Māori leaders Sir Toby Curtis and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Labour’s Māori MPs should come out of hiding and stand with them against their colleagues’ decision to axe partnership schools,” Ms Hayes says.
“Sir Toby and Dame Iritana are doing exactly what Labour’s Māori MPs have continually failed to do, and that’s to represent Māori and advocate for what’s best for them.
“They are calling out this Government’s attack on Māori tino rangatiratanga and fighting against the closure of partnership schools, which they rightly believe will have a detrimental effect on Māori.
“Their claim also raises issues about a lack of consultation with Māori on the review of our education system. This Government wants to axe schools that work for Māori and hasn’t bothered to talk to Māori about how to improve the education system for young Māori.”
Mr Korako says Labour’s Māori MPs having been sitting idle for too long while their colleagues continue to attack vulnerable young Māori by scrapping partnership schools.
“Māori people are right to be angry. Many voted for Labour MPs but so far those MPs have achieved nothing for them. It’s the same old Labour, same old attacks on Māori success and aspiration.
“Labour’s Māori MPs are allowing their Government to ride roughshod over partnership schools that have been successful in raising achievement for many young Māori.
“It’s time for Labour’s Māori MPs to start representing their people and fight to keep partnership schools open.”
The Government must listen to Māori leaders who have lodged a Treaty of Waitangi claim alleging that the Government’s axing of partnership schools will have a detrimental effect on Māori, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye and Māori Education spokesperson Jo Hayes say.
“Partnership schools have a proven track record of helping vulnerable young people, many of whom are Māori, to succeed in education,” Ms Kaye says.
“Yet the Government’s Education Amendment Bill includes provisions that will scrap the partnership school model, with no regard for where it leaves the students and their families.
“Now in light of the Treaty claim, the Government should remove the provisions from the Bill and let partnership schools get on with educating our vulnerable young people.
“Education Minister Chris Hipkins has continued to show contempt for these schools throughout the process. He has already terminated 10 out of 11 partnership schools, most of which are in a state of limbo about whether they can open next year under another model.”
Ms Hayes says Labour’s Māori MPs are letting young Māori down by not fighting for the schools.
“Kelvin Davis once threatened to resign if the partnership schools in his electorate were closed by his Government, but since becoming a Minister he has ducked out,” she says.
“These schools currently cater to about 800 young Māori who have no certainty about their future. The schools have been run by iwi and have had some superb results for our kids.
"National stands strong in supporting these schools and their students, and we back Māori leaders in their fight for the schools.”
Ms Kaye says that regardless of Labour’s ideological opposition to partnership schools, the process to terminate them has been flawed at every level.
“The Treaty claim is just the latest development in people fighting for what’s right for our kids. Sir Toby Curtis and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi are highly respected Māori leaders who have said the Government has ridden roughshod over the futures of young Māori.
“It’s time for the Government to pay attention and leave these schools alone.”
The Government’s education policies demonstrate that Māori are merely an afterthought rather than central to decision-making, National’s new Māori Education Spokesperson Jo Hayes says.
“Scrapping National Standards and closing partnership schools will risk undoing the significant gains made by Māori students in the last few years and take us back to the days when Māori were taught at and not with.
“National Standards were particularly important for those students who were falling behind, many of whom tend to be Māori, because they told teachers and principals where students were at in their learning so that they could provide the right support to lift their achievement.
“But even with the help of National Standards, some Māori students continued to struggle in mainstream education. That’s why the previous Government introduced partnership schools.
“These schools have made a positive difference for many young Māori who have failed in mainstream education, so it’s disappointing that Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis has turned his back on them and is sitting back while his Government shuts them down.
“He should know better that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work for Māori and that’s why it’s so important to try new things when it’s clear the mainstream system isn’t effective.
“Partnership schools put the Government to shame when it comes to Māori education – while the Government treats Māori like an afterthought, these schools put Māori achievement front and centre.
“We cannot afford to have a drop in Māori education participation and achievement. It’s time the Government put its ideologies aside and started focusing on what works for Māori.”