What to expect in the year ahead

As 2019 gets into gear, Morgan Godfery looks ahead.

Labour’s Māori MP’s entered power in 2017 on a high. They won the seven seats, regaining the monopoly they lost in 2004, a record number of Māori MPs entered Parliament off the party list, and Māori MPs from Labour and New Zealand First make up more than a third of the ministry, another record smashed.

Yet 2018 was most notable for its absences. Te Puni Kōkiri’s (TPK’s) funding went down, and funding for universal programmes came before funding for targeted programmes. Māori language policy was rewritten if not reimplemented, and institutions like Māori Television continued their managed decline. So what can we expect in Māori politics and policy in 2019?

More money

In May the government will deliver its first “wellbeing budget”. Every Vote and spend will be measured against whether or not it improves wellbeing. This is expected to bolster the case for increased Whānau Ora spending and increased spending on targeted Māori programmes. The budget is also expected to deliver more inter-agency partnerships in Māori development.

More reviews

The TPK-led “Review of the Māori Broadcasting Sector” reports back this year, and its findings and recommendations will help shape the future of the Māori public sphere. The review is examining funding structures and mechanisms, governance structures, intellectual property, and delivery from production to platforms. It was a bizarre choice to instruct TPK to undertake the review, especially with terms of reference that go beyond simple government funding and include production and platforms too, but it seems there is only one conclusion, no matter who conducts the review: more funding.

More strikes?

Last year it was Māori Television staff, Māori Land Court staff, Go Bus drivers, Hauora nurses on the East Coast, and iwi doctors in Porirua. This year Te Wānanga o Aotearoa’s collective contract with the Tertiary Education Union and Tuia Union is up for renegotiation, a test for its new CE the Hon. Te Ururoa Flavell. Māori Television also heads back to the negotiating table not even a year after settling the last collective contract. The Waitangi Tribunal is also expected to report back in the mana wahine claim finding systemic discrimination against Māori women in the workforce is a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Māori Party launches its 2020 campaign…

Despite a difficult 2018 for Labour’s Māori MPs – from ministerial sackings to policy impasses – it was a dream run of sorts. Why? There was no opposition. The Māori Party lost its co-leaders with both Flavell and Marama Fox stepping down. No one else stood up. The party’s vice-presidents travelled the country on a listening tour at the beginning of the year, but the lessons from it are unclear, or at least do not yet appear to be in action. The party must select its co-leaders this year or risk irrelevance in 2020.

Normal service resumes next week.

Controversial Waitara Lands Bill passes third and final reading

in the news

The 160 year-long dispute over Waitara, the stolen lands that helped trigger the New Zealand Wars, is at an end.

Or so the government hopes.

On Thursday Parliament passed the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill, a local bill that clears the way for private sales, financial redress, and local reserves.

But controversially the Bill’s passage only came with permission from one of the two Waitara hapū.

“Ōtaraua hapū do not agree to the Bill in its current form,” said Taranaki Women’s Network spokesperson Associate Professor Leonie Pihama.

“They have indicated to Ministers that as a hapū they do not wish this current Bill to proceed. They have also provided areas of change that they would like to see in the Bill”.

Instead of returning what remains of the publicly-owned Waitara lands to the two hapū to use, protect, or dispose of as they see fit the Bill clears the way for private sales.

After the private sales 120 hectares would return to the two hapū, mostly as reserves.

 “Common sense would suggest [the] land still in public ownership should not be sold but be returned to the original owners,” said Community Taranaki trustee Vivian Hutchinson.

“[Instead the Bill] has the absurd determination to sell the Waitara lands before distributing the funds to all sorts of vested interests”.

Under the Bill the two hapū will share $28m from land sales and the Crown will contribute $34m for environmental projects in and around the remaining land.

Other parties are also set to cash in under any sale including New Plymouth ratepayers. Those same ratepayers have enjoyed more than a century’s-worth of returns on the land after the government confiscated the Pekapeka block and transferred it (free of charge) to what are now the New Plymouth District and Taranaki Regional councils.

The Bill also includes a Crown apology, usually seen in Treaty settlement bills rather than local bills.

But this did little to quell local and hapū opposition to the Bill.

On the day the Bill went before the House Te Ati Awa’s Grant Knuckey, a former Wellington Tenths Trust trustee, submitted a petition with over 500 signatures calling on Parliament to delay the Bill’s passage.

The Bill will now proceeds for royal assent.


in the house

The first reading of the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill has been delayed. The Bill is now scheduled for its first reading on 19 February. The landmark Bill - the first of its kind - will allow Ngāi Tahu members acting via Te Rūnganga o Ngāi Tahu to appoint up to two members to the Canterbury Regional Council. The local bill is in the name of Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatane who is carving out a name for himself as a champion of kaupapa Māori representation. Tirikatene’s other Bill, the Electoral (Entrenchment of Māori Seats) Amendment Bill, passed its first reading earlier this year with support from (surprisingly) New Zealand First. Submissions on that Bill close today. New Zealand First is understood to oppose the Ngāi Tahu Representation, though it could still pass with support from National.

Ngāti Tūwharetoa were welcomed on to Parliament yesterday to witness the third reading of the Ngāti Tūwharetoa Claims Settlement Bill. The Bill includes an apology and agreed history, $25m in financial redress and the return of significant sites. The Bill’s passage comes five years after negotiations first opened. The settlement will exist alongside others settlements that the iwi benefit from including the Central North Island Forests Iwi Collective settlement (i.e. the “Treelords” deal).


in the media

  • The Māori Housing Network has made its second significant investment this year, funding up to $1m for Papakura Marae to build papakāinga housing. Minister of Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern were on hand at Papakura to make the announcement.

  • Because it’s Christmas, behold the Spinoff Ātea’s Kirihimete gift guide. The guide lists Māori-owned business you can buy from this gift-giving season. Please consider supporting.

  • And in another week of shameless self promotion, my book of essays, columns, cultural criticism, and tributes to those who have passed is out. The book is also called Māui Street, but with capital letters. Consider buying it if you want to radicalise your friends and family.

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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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