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Māori Land Court staff “work to rule” as pay dispute drags on

in the news

More than 120 Māori Land Court (MLC) staff across New Zealand will “work to rule” as the fair pay and across-the-board pay system dispute between the Public Service Association (PSA) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) heads to mediation today.

The work to rule – a form of industrial action where staff work to their exact rules and hours, reducing output and efficiency – comes after a nationwide strike at MoJ in September and a lightning strike in October.

MoJ chief operating officer Carl Crafar labelled that particular strike “unlawful”, but the Employment Court in Auckland found otherwise ruling the strike legal and dismissing MoJ’s application to prevent further lightning strikes.

“I don’t feel Te Reo Court Reporters have been focused on much,” wrote an anonymous MLC staffer in a statement released to māui street.  

“I feel our workload is very different to our mainstream Court Reporters/transcribers. A usual Notes of Evidence is just based on the evidence the witnesses give in Court, [and] anything outside of that is a separate document or has a heading to distinguish that event in court. [But] our transcripts contain everything - openings, closings, briefs of evidence/affidavits are transcribed into the documents transcribing both Māori and English languages”.  

MLC staff are calling for better pay to reflect their larger workload and longer hours.

In October the case load at the Court was up almost 20 percent on the previous month and in the year to October 2018 cases on hand increased 14 percent, putting further strain on an already strained workforce.

“Our hearings can run from 8.30am to 5.30pm or later as the hearings are not held in an actual courtroom but an offsite venue,” the MLC staffer added.

The PSA is calling for an increase in base salary no lower than 2 percent.

But Crafar said MoJ is offering a 3 percent increase this year and a three percent increase the next.

“The Ministry has also offered an additional $750 one-off payment to PSA members for 2018,” he told Stuff.

“The PSA initially presented a pay claim which added up to more than 13 per cent during this period, more than double the Ministry's budget.”

The impasse at MLC tops off a rough year for Māori workers. In August dozens of staff at Māori Television walked off the job, last week Māori nurses in Te Tairāwhiti walked off the job, and last weekend the seven day lockout at Go Bus, the iwi-owned transport company, finally came to an end.

The Waitangi Tribunal, whose judges have spoken out about overwork and burnout after more than a decade without a funding boost, is also hearing evidence in the Mana Wahine claim concerning pay equity for Māori women.

The work to rule action is scheduled to run until December 7.


in the house

The New Zealand Political Studies Association (NZPSA) is holding its Civics and Citizenship conference in Parliament’s grand hall today. The opening panel will discuss Te Tiriti education with Associate Professor Maria Bargh, Professor Angus McFarlane, Te Tai Tonga MP and Māori Affairs Select Committee Chair Rino Tirikatane, and Gisborne Girls’ High School students Puna Whakaata Maniapoto-Love and Reipua Puketapu-Watson. The NZPSA, in a wide-ranging publication aimed at politicians and policy-makers, is recommending Te Tiriti education at all levels of the curriculum. The NZPSA is also recommending compulsory New Zealand history at all levels of the curriculum, adding academic support to the the student and teacher-led movement for New Zealand history teaching.  

The chair of National Māori Authority (NMA) Matthew Tukaki is criticising Minister of Health David Clark for appointing a 21-person leadership group to advise the government on its response to the Mental Health and Addictions Inquiry. Tukaki says appointing the group, made up primarily of DHB chiefs, is like appointing a “family of foxes in the hen house and sit there and watch as they devour the whole thing”. DHBs, according to Tukaki and the NMA, are in part responsible for mental health and addiction failures. NMA are now withdrawing their support and calling for greater Māori involvement in the Inquiry and the government’s response.    


in the media

  • Māori Television (MTS) CEO Keith Ikin has resigned after only a year in the job. Ikin’s resignation comes after news and current affairs chief Maramena Roderick left the job earlier this year. MTS is suffering under a funding squeeze and caving viewership.

  • Shane Jones is labelling opponents of the Ngāpuhi Treaty settlement “hapū zealots”. Jonesy’s intervention comes as hapū support appears to be dwindling with some Ngāpuhi members telling māui street that recently Ngāti Korokoro, Te Pouka, Ngāti Wharara, and Ngāti Pakau have all opposed the settlement model. Tūhono’s facilitators and the Crown’s technical advisors are also being harshly criticised for the way they have conducted themselves at hui.

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Go Bus lockout: Ngāi Tahu uri to force issue onto the agenda at hui-ā-tau

in the news

Ngāi Tahu uri will force the Go Bus lockout onto the agenda at the iwi’s hui-ā-tau this weekend.

Hamilton bus drivers are one week in to a two-week lockout at Go Bus, the Ngāi Tahu Holdings Corporation (NTHC) and Tainui Group Holdings (TGH)-owned transport company.

The lockout comes after First Union members took low-level strike action last week, refusing to collect fares from passengers.

“As members of Ngāi Tahu, we have access to many services and opportunities that are funded by Ngāi Tahu’s investments. One of these investments is Go Bus,” wrote Philip Wills in an open letter to the iwi.

“Go Bus employees in Hamilton are taking industrial action to try and get Go Bus to pay them a living wage. As an iwi we have recognised that paying the living wage is an important gesture of reciprocity and manaakitaka to those who work for and expand the wealth of our iwi.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu is a living wage employer, meaning its direct employees earn the living wage of $20.55 or above.

“We believe it is time to ensure that this basic standard of compensation is extended to the employees of subsidiary companies such as Go Bus as we are the beneficiaries of their labour also and as we are publicly accountable for their treatment.”

So far dozens of iwi members have lent their name to the letter.

The Go Bus lockout is the first major industrial dispute to take place in an iwi-owned company.

 “In an industrial dispute like this, that escalates to this level, it's time for the owners to step in and take some responsibility for what is going on,” said First Union divisional secretary Jared Abbott.

“Unfortunately, for a lot of our members, their whakapapa is to Tainui and Ngāi Tahu and [those members] have been pushing us to bring [the iwi] into the dispute.”

In 2014 NTHC and TGH purchased Go Bus from Next Capital, the Australian private equity firm. NTHC holds a two-thirds share and TGH holds the remaining third share.

In most cases iwi holding companies take an arms-length approach to their subsidiaries, but Labour MP and Employment Minister Willie Jackson cites iwi intervention in the Affco lockout in 2012 as a possible precedent for NTHC and THG.

“If Iwi can play a constructive part in resolving workplace disputes, then naturally I am in favour of their involvement,” he said.

“We’ve seen [a precedent] for this working successfully in the past. In 2012 Iwi/Māori were involved in helping to resolve the Affco lockout and this was due in part to the influence they can assert in both the economic and whānau support space.”  

In 2012 Affco, a Talleys-owned company, locked out its meat workers after a bitter and prolonged pay dispute.

The Council of Trade Unions and the Meat Workers Union put the call out to iwi leaders who helped organise kai packages for whānau and entered negotiations alongside the two unions, threatening to withhold supply from Affco plants if workers’ pay demands weren’t met.

The threat to withhold supply helped resolve the dispute in the workers’ favour.

“We all have a part to play across the spectrum and so I do see a place for Iwi involvement where appropriate,” said Jackson.

But Go Bus is holding its ground with the company’s chief operating officer (COO) arguing there’s no money to fund the drivers’ living wage demands.

 “This is a financial decision that must involve councils and the NZ Transport Agency who collectively fund our services and set the passenger fares... We are more than happy to work with them in presenting the case to the authorities that fund the bus services,” said Go Bus COO Nigel Piper.

Go Bus will pay a living wage, he added, when all other bus operators are forced to as well.

Competition in the industry is tight and many companies, in their tender bids to run services on public routes, compete on wages.

Go Bus intends to continue the lockout into next week.

Disclaimer: I’m a former First Union official, so naturally support the drivers.  


in the house

Submissions on the Electoral (Entrenchment of Māori Seats) Amendment Bill close on 14 December. The Māori Affairs Select Committee has received a large number of submissions on the Bill, many from ‘Hobson’s Pledegers’. But there have also been a significant number of submissions in support of the Bill. Max Harris, author of the new zealand project, has organised a submission drive via ActionStation, the progressive campaigning organisation. The Committee is also encouraging Māori to appear in person and speak to their submissions.


in the media

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Government will not restructure the Māori Council – Shane Jones

in the news

The government will not restructure the New Zealand Māori Council, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones confirmed in a speech on Sunday.  

The Council, invigorated after a change in government, is dramatically expanding its work programme, partnering with different organisations to explore issues as diverse as measuring the impact of social policy to protecting individual’s data sovereignty.

But for the last eight years reforms threatened to radically reshape the Council and its twin, the Māori Wardens.

In 2010 the Māori Affairs Select Committee launched an inquiry into the Māori Community Development Act 1962, the Council’s empowering act, and in 2013 Te Puni Kōkiri consulted on widespread reforms to it.

But a Waitangi Tribunal decision in 2014 found the reform process breached the Treaty of Waitangi, cautioning the Crown that any review of the Council’s legislation must be led by the Council itself.  

The National-led government called taihoa, taking 2015 to carefully review the Tribunal’s report.

In 2016 Minister of Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell kicked the review back into gear, but a change of government in 2017 meant changes never made it to a first reading.

Now Jones is confirming the Coalition Government will not pick up where the last government left off.

“Any suggestion, any rumor mongering, that there is an agenda to radically restructure the legislation of the New Zealand Maori Council…  send them back to read our coalition agreement,” said Jones.

“It’s not there,” he said, referring to the fact there are no reform plans in the Coalition agreement.  

“That is the bible on which our government is formed.”

The guarantee from Jones comes as the Council begins a programme to reclaim its position as the government’s partner of choice.  On Monday one of the Council’s nominees, Dr Andrew Erueti, was appointed to the Royal Commission into Child and Institutional Abuse. Council nominees sit on several other government-appointed review and investigation panels including the new Kahui Wai Māori.

“This Council has a long and proud history of ensuring the aspirations of our people are met in any way possible,” said Jones.

“As we stand together, united here this weekend with all Sixteen Māori Districts present, I cannot be prouder to say that the prow of our Waka is firmly pointed in the right direction and we are all paddling in the same direction.”  

Jones and the Council are as one just as the rift between the Coalition and the Iwi Chairs Forum widens.

Jones himself has refused to meet with the Iwi Chairs while Employment Minister Willie Jackson has publicly questioned their mandate and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta has labelled their work “not satisfactory.”

The Iwi Chairs Forum returned fire, boycotting the Kahui Wai Māori and threatening court action over the closure of partnership schools.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made tentative steps towards reconciliation, attending the Forum’s November meeting in Dunedin, but the Council remain ascendant as the Forum’s influence declines.


  • 1962: The Māori Welfare Act is passed, establishing the modern Māori Council;

  • 1979: Minor reforms are made to the Council’s responsibilities and functions and the Act is renamed the Māori Community Development Act;

  • 1987: The Council, led by Sir Graham Latimer, take the “Lands case”, the Court of Appeal decision establishing the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi;

  • 1993: The Council is appointed to lead the consultation process to reform Māori land law;

  • 2010: The Māori Affairs Select Committee launches its own inquiry into the Council’s empowering act;

  • 2012: The Council take, and lose, the Mighty River Power case in the Supreme Court;

  • 2013: consultation on reforms to the Council and Wardens begin;

  • 2014: the consultation comes to a halt after the Waitangi Tribunal rules it breaches the Treaty of Waitangi;

  • 2016: Te Ururoa Flavell publicly commits to reform

  • 2017: Labour, the Greens, and New Zealand First form the government. Sir Taihakurei Eddie Durie is elected sole chair of the Council after internal and legal wrangling with Maanu Paul.


in the house

The House is not sitting this week.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little will now decide whether to re-enter settlement negotiations with the Whakatōhea Pre-Settlement Claims Trust after tribal members narrowly voted to reconfirm the Trust’s mandate. Voter turnout was 33% with 56% of those who cast eligible votes backing continued negotiations. The other 44% voted to either re-run the mandate process or seek a full Waitangi Tribunal historical inquiry. Of the hapū, three (including hapū Ngāti Ira) voted for a full inquiry and four voted for continuing negotiations. The results expose significant divisions and suggest that the mandate to re-enter negotiations is not strong enough to sustain a harmonious settlement.

Minister of Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta is reforming the underperforming Māori Housing Network. Members of the Māori Affairs Select Committee criticised the multimillion dollar fund this year after the Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK) CEO admitted that TPK did not know how many houses were built or repaired as a result of support from the fund. As a result, TPK brought in a number of contractors and the fund is now spending to support repair works. Organisations that have recently received funding include Habitat for Humanity and the Ngāti Wai Trust. The largest recipient was Korimiti Consultancy Limited, receiving almost $1 m to repair and improve 21 homes in the South Canterbury area.


in the media

  • The Waitangi Tribunal is holding its second series of hearings into Mangatu remedies claim, the Gisborne Herald reports. Six claimant groups are applying for the return of Mangatu Crown forest licensed lands and compensation. The claimants estimate their economic loss at $60m.

  • Kelvin Davis is winning widespread praise after reducing the prison population by almost 1000 in his first year in the job. The reduction comes mainly via changes to the way remand inmates are assisted and dealt with.

  • Systemic racism is to blame for New Zealand’s glaring ethnic health inequalities, according to Dr Owen Sinclair, a paediatrician based at Waitakere Hospital. Sinclair’s research focuses on health inequalities in the country and explores why “a European child born in the affluent North Shore will have a completely different life trajectory to a Maori child born into poverty in South Auckland.”

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Divisions deepen in Ngāpuhi as Kotahitanga chiefs are told to step down

in the news

Te Kotahitanga o Ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi, one of the settlement bodies in the Ngāpuhi mandate, motioned to remove their co-chairs and lawyer in a fractious meeting on Tuesday.  

Moka Puru, a widely-respected Ngāpuhi elder and the husband of Hine Puru, the daughter of Dame Whina Cooper, put forward the motion to remove co-chairs Rudy Taylor and Pita Tipene and lawyer Jason Pou.

But Pou, one of the negotiators in the equally fractious Whakatōhea settlement, doubts whether the motion enjoys wide support.

“I'm not sure that the resolution has merit given that there has not been engagement with the hapū that was ostensibly expressed,” he said.

The motion comes as Ngāti Hine, one of the largest iwi in the Ngāpuhi confederation, reject the government’s “taiwhenua” model where mandated bodies representing six districts negotiate cultural redress and one mandated body negotiates commercial redress.

“Ngāti Hine will follow the voting process and continue to campaign for the opposition of the proposed mandate,” said Te Maara ā Hineaamaru chairman Te Waihoroi Shortland, adding that Ngāti Hine cannot support a model they had no hand in developing.

“In the end, this is set up to create a divide between hapū”.

Ngāpuhi did not cede sovereignty – iwi members

Complicating the ongoing consultation process is iwi members’ (correct) assertion that Ngāpuhi did not cede their rangatiratanga, meaning it is not for them to submit to a Crown-led process.

Approximately 19 submitters expressed this view during round two consultation hui.

The view is also popular on social media, including the Ngati Hine a Hineamaru page.

In a letter from Attorney-General David Parker to lawyer Janet Mason, counsel for Ngāpuhi claimants Titewhai Harawira and Ruiha Collier, the Crown also accepts that rangatiratanga was not necessarily ceded.   

In information provided to māui street through Parker’s office the Crown’s position is that it agrees with the Waitangi Tribunal in its Te Paparahi o Te Raki stage one report that “the [T]reaty resulted in two forms of authority: the Crown’s kāwanatanga and Māori tino rangatiratanga over their lands and taonga”.

The Crown also agrees that “quite how the two forms of authority were to relate to each other was not made clear in the [T]reaty”.

Interestingly, “[t]he Crown expects the Tribunal’s findings, and the relationship between kāwanatanga and rangatiratanga, to be discussed in settlement negotiations”.

This could be read as vindicating the view that negotiations should occur between hapū, as the repositories of rangatiratanga, and the Crown as the repository of kāwanatanga.

However, this does not rule out the Crown’s taiwhenua model as hapū can still confer rangatiratanga on a representative body or pool it as part of an iwi body (a model with significant historical precedence).

Debate over the precise implications of the Attorney-General’s letter remains ongoing on social media.

Te Rōpū Tūhono, the group made up of members from Kotahitanga, Tuhoronuku, and the Crown, is travelling to the final taiwhenua district – Hokianga – on Friday to sell its negotiation model.

Voting is also expected to take place tomorrow.


in the house

The house is sitting this week.


in the media

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