Feb 27, 2012
Maori cuts at MFAT
I find it difficult to get worked up about MFAT cutting their Maori Policy Unit. The obvious question is: why does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, key word foreign affairs and trade, need a Maori policy group. I can understand why, say, Tourism NZ would need a Maori policy team. Maori culture is a unique selling point. Having said that, I suppose I’ve just highlighted why MFAT needs a Maori policy unit. In terms of trade, Maori culture is a unique selling point. The Maori Policy Unit, I imagine, advocates the Maori economy overseas and helps overseas governments etc understand the place of Maori in New Zealand and so on. Without a Maori Policy Unit, there’s a hole. Most Pakeha, and by extension diplomats, have no, not even the slightest, grasp on Maori culture, the Maori economy, Maori exporters, the place of Maori in New Zealand and the like.
I guess it’s worrying. When MFAT does need Maori experts they can’t farm it out to Te Puni Kokiri. That Ministry is going to be a shell of its former self and, I think it is fair to assume, will only have the capacity to perform internal tasks. MFAT is looking to hire a Kaumatua. However, a Kaumatua will only consult on cultural aspects, I doubt the Kaumatua will be qualified to work on broader Maori issues.
All this, the Maori cuts at MFAT and the cuts at TPK, amount to a sustained attack on Maori in government. What’s next? Cuts to Te Taura Whiri? Smashing the Maori Policy Units in other Ministries? A funding freeze at Maori TV?
It’s a shame that the Maori Party and the Mana Party are nowhere on this issue. Labour, the Greens and NZ First are all over it, but taking a broader approach. They know that the majority of NZders support scrapping anything with the word Maori in front of it so they’ll tread carefully. With that in mind, it’s up to the Maori Party and Mana to oppose this.