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.