Jun 29, 2013

Ikaroa-Rawhiti byelection coverage

Maori TV will be live streaming their coverage of the byelection from 7.00pm to 9.40pm. Follow the link.

Both Q+A (TV One) and The Nation (TV3) will cover the results on Sunday morning.

The Daily Blog is aiming to call the winner around 7.00pm. Follow their Twitter feed.

And lastly, I'll be following the results too. Follow my Twitter feed here. Depending on how hungover I am, I'll write preliminary analysis tomorrow. If not, I'll publish my full analysis on Monday at The Daily Blog.

Note: if you want to leave a comment, I won't publish it until after 7pm (to avoid breaking election rules).   

Jun 28, 2013

Affirmative action: class or ethnicity?

Nicholas Jones at the Herald reports:

Students from poor backgrounds could have places reserved for them at the country's largest university in a shake-up of admissions currently targeted according to ethnicity. 

In a first for the country, the University of Auckland council has supported a proposal to improve access to higher education for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, regardless of ethnicity. 

At present, the targeted admission programme allows for Maori, Pasifika and students with disabilities.

For the most part, I’m not opposed to affirmative action on the basis of income.

Having said that, reserving places for low income students might compromise affirmative action’s most important aim: diversity, or, “that a critical mass of racial diversity is an education necessity”. That was the leading argument in Grutter/Gratz v. Bollinger – an affirmative action case before the Supreme Court of the United States – and Fisher v. University of Texas (where the argument was upheld – again).*

Affirmative action (on the basis of ethnicity) isn’t and shouldn’t be seen solely as atonement for past injustice. Affirmative action is, for the most part, a response to contemporary ethnic inequalities. It happens that ethnic inequality is sometimes a stand in for class inequality. For that reason, I'm not entirely opposed to affirmative action based on income.

However, recognising ethnicity acknowledges that the education system isn’t designed to accommodate Polynesian** learning styles. Education in New Zealand is largely monocultural. That puts Polynesian students, especially Polynesians immersed in their own culture, at a disadvantage. Systemic disadvantage exists. Under Article 2.2 of the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination affirmative action can be a requirement to remedy systemic disadvantage. In other words, there's broad consensus that affirmative action based on ethnicity is acceptable and sometimes necessary.**  

The argument holds for disabled students too. The New Zealand education system treats disabled students poorly. Many opportunities are not open to disabled students. The best method to rectify that is to base affirmative action around ethnicity and disabilities. Class has its merits, but it misses, say, Maori students who don't meet the income threshold but are disadvantaged because they're oral learners. 

Race can be a proxy for (low) income, but race and disability is a better proxy for (lack of) opportunity.

Resistance to affirmative action based on ethnicity and disability is resistance against sharing privilege. Equality in law and policy – that nebulous, protean and prejudiced idea – must give way to equality in fact. Auckland University may be making the wrong decision. Thoughts? 

Post script: ideally, affirmative action programmes consider several factors including: ethnicity, language spoken at home (e.g Maori, Samona, Somali etc), household income and makeup (e.g. did the applicant grow up in a single-parent household) and school decile. Ethnicity should be the primary factor, though. Perhaps framing affirmative action as about ethnicity only or income only is problematic.

*The Fisher case is not without its difficulties. Although affirmative action was upheld, the Supreme Court sent it back to the lower courts. The strategy behind the decision is “a cynical attempt to let the lower court bury it”.

**The Bill of Rights Act 1990 holds that affirmative action is legal, but there the act doesn't impose a requirement for affirmative action. The Human Rights Act 1993 also allows affirmative action. 

Jun 27, 2013

The Bill of Rights: submit!

The Constitutional Advisory Panel has extended the deadline for submissions to the "constitutional conversation". The new deadline is July 31st.

Over the next two weeks I'll post parts of my submission. Feel free to use it as a guide, but please don't copy and paste. The usual rules for good submission writing apply: keep it relevant (irrelevant submissions can be rejected), clear (use the active voice, persuasive language etc), concise (the panel is human - their attention span is limited) and accurate (don't bullshit).

I recommend an introduction (introducing yourself that is) and an executive summary or conclusion. If you have special expertise or a special perspective, do mention it. I number my points and begin with a broad statement and then offer some explanation. You don't have to do it like that, but it's more readable than an essay-like submission.

Today I'm posting my submission on the Bill of Rights Act 1990. I'm probably only going to submit on the Bill of Rights, the Maori seats and the Treaty. Those are the most important to me. If I get time I'll submit on other issues that aren't explicitly in the terms of reference (e.g. republicanism). Next week I'll post my submission on the Maori seats. I hope this helps or at least spurs you to submit. (Every responsible Maori should submit in favour of the Maori seats and the Treaty - just saying).


1.      The Bill of Rights must be entrenched.


1.1.Entrenchment will afford the Bill of Rights practical sanctity and act as a constitutional safeguard against unprincipled change or abolition.[1]

1.2.New Zealand operates under a fusion of powers system. In effect, the executive controls Parliament. Entrenchment is needed to protect the Bill of Rights against the executive’s “unbridled power”. [2] 

1.3. Entrenchment will bring New Zealand in line with international consensus including recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Committee and practice in comparator jurisdictions.[3]


2.      The Bill of Rights must be supreme law.


2.1. The Bill of Rights was intended to restrain Parliament’s law-making practice. It has not.[4]

2.2. From a legal naturalist perspective, human rights are inherent and must be afforded the highest protection.

2.3. Supreme law powers are a necessary remedy. Interpretive techniques (i.e. section 6) are limited and can leave plaintiffs without a remedy.

2.4.There are few procedural or substantive restrictions on Parliament’s (in practice the executive’s) law-making power. A supreme law Bill of Rights is a necessary control on unrestrained law-making power (i.e. a constitutional safeguard).

2.5. The ballot box is an ineffective control.[5] Rights violations are, for the most part, targeted against minorities. Minorities, by definition, do not have the electoral power to punish rights violating governments and legislatures. Minority rights demand the protection of supreme law powers.

2.6. The counter-majoritarian difficulty is unfounded. Democracy is nuanced and textured. There must be a balance between majority power and minority rights.[6] Supreme law power protects the latter, Parliamentary sovereignty in all respects (other than human rights) protects the former.  

2.7. The New Zealand legislature has a culture of rights abuse. Representative examples include Māori Prisoners Act 1880, the Waterfront Strike Emergency Regulations made under the Public Safety Conservation Act 1932,[7] and the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Amendment Act 2013 (No 2).

2.8. The threat of invalidation will impose a positive obligation on the legislature (an obligation to legislate consistently with the Bill of Rights).

2.9. A supreme law Bill of Rights will bring New Zealand in line with international consensus including recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Committee and practice in other jurisdictions.

3.      Substantive rights – including economic, property and social rights - must be included in the Bill of Rights.


3.1. Individual and collective pluralism is better protected with the inclusion of substantive rights.

3.2. The inclusion of substantive rights will bring New Zealand in line with international law (including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) and comparator jurisdictions. In an increasingly globalised world, this is essential.

3.3. Substantive rights are essential to “the practical enforcement and delivery of human rights”.[8]

3.4. Process rights – i.e. the existing rights in the Bill of Rights – are inseparable from substantive rights. Process rights are needed to secure substantive rights through the political process, but process rights are meaningless to those without substantive rights (e.g. “the hungry and unemployed”).[9]

3.5. The substantive right relevant to New Zealand is a right or rights to the necessities of life. Like the rest of the Bill of Rights, a substantive rights clause(s) must be tightly drafted. Substantive rights impose an obligation to fulfil (positive obligation) rather than a negative obligation (which is, generally speaking, the obligation under the Bill of Rights in its current form).  

3.6. A right to property must be included. Property rights are the foundation of western mercantile culture and must be awarded constitutional protection.

3.7. A right to privacy must be included. The right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure is under inclusive. Although privacy is the touchstone value, it must be extended to a stand-alone right. The growth of the bureaucratic and security state demands that privacy is acknowledged as a human right.


4.      Additional and improved procedural safeguards are needed to better protect the Bill of Rights including a Human Rights Select Committee and reforms to section 7.


4.1. Parliamentary scrutiny of human rights is inadequate.

4.2. The use of urgency allows the government to bypass select committee scrutiny of rights violating bills.

4.3. Rights violating amendments can be introduced by supplementary order paper.

4.4. Section 7 reports are only tabled at the first reading.

4.5. With that in mind, a human rights select committee must be created. A specialist committee will increase dialogue between the courts and Parliament (the courts receive better indications of Parliamentary intention) and lead to better institutional balance (i.e. between the executive and Parliament).  

4.6. The Attorney-General must be given the power to flag a rights violating bill or amendment at any stage of the Parliamentary process.


5.      Existing rights can and must be better designed including the right to vote and remedies.


5.1. The right to vote in local body elections must be included in section 12. The existing provision is under inclusive.

5.2. An express remedies clause must be included. The clause can be modelled on the existing law.

5.3. Section 4 must be amended to reflect the supreme law status of the Bill of Rights.

5.4. A clause demanding appropriate deference could be included to deter the unlikely scenario of unprincipled and unrestrained strike down. 

5.5. The Bill of Rights Amendment Act must be repealed if litigants are to receive the full measure of rights.

5.6. An express right to tikanga Māori should be included in section 20.

[1] Sir Geoffrey Palmer “A Bill of Rights for New Zealand: A White Paper” (1985) AJHR A6 at [4.1]
[2] Sir Geoffrey Palmer Unbridled Power (1st ed, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1979).
[3] Andrew Butler and Petra Butler “Protecting Rights” in Caroline Morris, Jonathan Boston and Petra Butler (eds) Reconstituting the Constitution (Springer, Heidelberg, 2011) at chapter 9.
[4] Andrew Geddis “The Comparative Irrelevance of the NZBORA to Legislative Practice” (2009) 23 NZULR 465
[5] Justice and Law Reform Committee “Interim Report of the Justice and Law Reform Committee on a White Paper on a Bill of Rights for New Zealand” (1986) AJHR I8A at 14 per Professor Orr
[6] Sir Kenneth Keith Cabinet Manual 2008 at 5
[7] Sir Geoffrey Palmer New Zealand’s Constitution in Crisis: Reforming our Polictical System (John McIndoe, Dunedin, 1992) at 65-69
[8] Andrew Butler and Petra Butler “Protecting Rights” in Caroline Morris, Jonathan Boston and Petra Butler (eds) Reconstituting the Constitution (Springer, Heidelberg, 2011) at chapter 9.
[9] Ibid.

Jun 25, 2013

Native Affairs Review: Ikaroa-Rawhiti debate

In some ways it was a debate for the party hacks. The candidates stuck to their scripts. Marama strongly emphasised Green policies and principles - think sustainability and innovation – and didn’t shift further. Meka riffed off of her experience in iwi and the public service. Labour policy was light. Na stressed at the table narratives and Te Hamua relied on his street credibility. There was very little for the undecideds.

I'm not going to pick a winner, but here are some thoughts. 


She didn’t let herself get pushed over. There was a tussle (with Mihi) over whether or not sustainable jobs are realistic, but Marama held her ground. I wasn’t entirely convinced, but Marama didn’t concede an inch.

On other issues, though, Marama scored clear wins. On the marijuana question Marama demonstrated the most depth. Marijuana is and should be a health issues, not a criminal issue, and Marama argued the point well. 

The Ikaroa-Rawhiti race is a platform for Marama and the Greens. Partly an attempt to announce the Greens arrival in Maori politics and (hopefully) a springboard for Marama to enter Parliament off of the Green Party list. Marama, Metiria Turei and our mate Jack Tautokai McDonald have been active in Maori politics. After the byelection the Greens can credibly claim that they are committed to kaupapa Maori politics and a credible alternative in 2014. 

Te Hamua

He’s funny, right?

Humour aside, Te Hamua ran the most consistent message: I’m you, you are me – I’m real. He owned that narrative too. Each candidate emphasised their relative strengths, e.g. Marama highlighted the strong position the Greens will be in in the next left-leaning government, however Te Hamua argued his strengths the most convincingly. He was the “B.R.O”.

I imagine the brothers in Kaiti were most impressed with Te Hamua. That’s a strength. Maori political engagement is woeful. Politics doesn’t serve them and isn’t seen to serve them. Politicians (with some exceptions, think of Parekura) can be detached from the experiences of the poor and marginalised. Te Hamua isn’t.

But politics is more than that. I felt that Te Hamua was the weakest candidate on policy. He ran hot and cold. Substantive and focussed questions were his weak point.


She needs a big push. Any residual momentum is lost.

Meka found herself on the back foot. She is the leading candidate, but despite entering as the favourite she didn’t use that position to her advantage. The leading candidate should have been controlling the agenda, instead Meka was responding to it.

Having said that, possibly unfairly and the comments section is open to those who want to discuss it, Meka revealed a little fire. She smacked down Te Hamua after his ‘I still shop at the Warehouse’ speech arguing that Parliament requires an MP with the smarts. Meka was right, Parliament is a labyrinth unless you know how to navigate it, but talking down to Te Hamua won’t wash with the 18-24 demographic. The key demographic (if they turn out, which is unlikely).

It wasn’t until the last segment that Meka found her footing. She closed well (she had the most convincing political closing). The other highlight was the foreshore and seabed and the Urewera raids. Meka owned up to it. She admitted it was a mistake. She was responding to a question on honesty and, in owning up to the mistake, demonstrated more honesty than many Labour MPs before her. 


For the most part, Na did great. Arguably a technical win on points. He doesn’t excite me though. As much as he attempted to divorce the Maori Party from National I didn’t accept it. The Maori Party is in a confidence and supply agreement with National, two Maori Party MPs hold ministerial warrants and a select committee (with a National majority) just gutted one of the party’s best members’ bills. That gutting was met with meek acceptance.

Na also fell into a trap. He accepted Mihi’s framing of the Maori Party as the party of the right in Maori politics. In accepting that framing, Na legitimised the argument that a vote for the Maori Party is a vote for National. He slammed that suggestion in the first segment of the debate, only to implicitly accept it later. A tactical low point in an otherwise strong performance.

Oh, with the exception of the casual xenophobia. Na argued that migrant worker jobs should be transferred to Maori. No. Just no.

That aside, Na was strong on Parekura’s legacy: bringing people together. He also answered well on most questions. He seems like a great guy and has deep knowledge of local issues.

Maori TV

Mihi and Jodi were great. But what's most interesting is how Maori TV has changed Maori politics. Maori politicians are more accountable and the Maori electorate is more informed. The Maori electorates are no longer marginal games in far off parts of the country. Instead, the Maori electorates are becoming an increasingly important part of New Zealand politics and political discourse.

Jun 24, 2013

Karakia in school - what's the fuss?

Can’t say I get the fuss over karakia in schools. Whether a school conducts karakia is a decision for the school. Personally, I wouldn't want my kids attending a school that started the day with  prayer to God. However, karakia can have nothing to do with religion. It's a misunderstanding to think that a karakia is equivalent to, say, a Christian prayer.

A karakia is a cultural act, though it can be infused with religion or spirituality. A karakia can be a prayer to a deity, but that’s not the rule. A karakia could involve – and I don’t think I’m stretching the definition – meditation or words to a no one or nothing in particular.

A non-religious or non-spiritual karakia is a way to include Maori students. Rejecting karakia further marginalises the most marginalised students. Karakia is part of being Maori – whether it’s religious, spiritual or secular. The line between religion/spiritualism and culture is blurred in Te Ao Maori, but that’s not a reason to reject karakia. Maybe this is why some Maori support charter schools?

Post script: Dave Armstrong has a good piece on this in the Dominion Post

Ikaroa-Rawhiti debate

A reminder that the final Ikaroa-Rawhiti debate is on tonight's Native Affairs at 8.30pm. I'll offer some analysis tomorrow.

Jun 21, 2013

New comment rules

There are new comment rules. No anonymous comments. Please use a pseudonym/moniker/etc. The usual rules about good taste, abuse and so on apply. I'm going to start rejecting anonymous comments because a lot of posts (and the last post especially) appear to be overrun with anonymous Mana Party activists. There's nothing wrong with that, but please don't pretend to be a normal, average voter when you're really a party activist.

Jun 20, 2013

Meka will win Ikaroa-Rawhiti: discuss...

I’m suffering from cognitive dissonance. I know – I feel – that Meka’s going to win. The momentum is with Te Hamua, though.

John Minto isn’t wrong to write that “most pundits are picking the seat as Labour’s to lose, on the ground the feeling is very different. If I was a betting man I’d put money on Te Hamua to win”. Mana Poneke has been and is knocking on doors and discovering that most households are committed to voting for Te Hamua. I’ve received several emails (thank you) arguing that I’ve misread the electorate. Maybe I have.

Byelections turn on, well, turnout. That’s where Labour’s at an advantage. The future is micro-targeting. Labour gets that. Micro-targetting requires 1) knowledge of who and where your voters are and 2) the right messaging.

As bad as Labour’s messaging has been (“we will organise, mobilise and terrorise”), the party knows who and where its habitual voters are. Even putting terror and immigration comments aside, Labour and Meka are still at a messaging advantage. Meka can credibly frame herself as the successor to Parekura’s legacy and she can position herself to inherit the affection that Parekura earnt.

Requesting a copy of the electoral roll with the names and addresses of every person enrolled in Ikaroa-Rawhiti – as I believe Mana, the Maori Party and the Greens do - is is an exercise in hit and miss. Political campaigns are about the allocation of scare resources. Sending your human resources on door knocks that don’t guarantee a political return can be wasteful. Having said that it appears that Mana has a good hit rate.

However, on the issues, the field is even: jobs, housing and health and local issues like empty state homes in Maraenui, erosion on the East Coast, oil exploration in Dannevirke and school closures in Gisborne favour no one.

I might be horribly wrong (wouldn’t be the first time) and this election might not depend on turnout at all. I’m open to people sharing their experiences on the ground. The comments section is open.

Jun 11, 2013


This is a re-post from earlier in the year. Figures from the Electoral Commission show that in some Maori electorates the number on the Maori roll has fallen, while in others the numbers have increased only slightly. If an eighth Maori seat is important to us, we have to enrol in numbers.  

If you do one thing this year, enrol or switch to the Maori roll. I can’t stress it enough – enrol on or switch to the Maori roll. Do it. Do it now. 

Every patriotic Maori should be on the Maori roll. 

In 1975 the then Labour government introduced the Maori electoral option. The option would've let Maori choose between enrolling on the general roll or the Maori roll and the number of Maori seats would have risen and fallen with the number enrolled on the Maori roll. However, the Muldoon government legislated to keep the number of seats at 4 (he did so before the the changes the Labour government made could come into effect - h/t Graeme Edgeler). A rise in the number of Maori seats didn't come until the option in 1994 - 127 years after their creation. 

The option is held in census’ years and determines whether or not there will be an increase or decrease in the number of Maori seats.   

Along with the Treaty of Waitangi, the Maori seats lend Maori a special constitutional status.* This is the unintended consequence of the seats creation. For 127 years the Maori seats were capped at four – despite explosive growth in the Maori population and the extension of the franchise – thus limiting Maori political power. Until 1951 elections for the Maori seats were held separately and until 1975 only “half-castes” could elect to vote on either the European roll (as it was then called) or the Maori roll. It wasn’t until 1993 that the number of Maori seats was tied to the Maori electoral population.**

The Maori seats give our people, for want of better metaphors, a foot in the door and a seat at the table. They anchor Maori political power. Without them, Maori political progress is wholly dependent on the acquiescence of non-Maori parties. It will be a perverse situation if we, rather than external actors, are responsible for limiting our own political power.

If we enrol in numbers the smart money is on an eighth Maori seat, probably in South Auckland. However, recent figures from the Electoral Commission show that we're not. Cue alarm.

It’s so, so important that we enrol on or switch to the Maori roll. I can’t emphasise that enough. Unlike the provisions of the Electoral Act regulating the general electorate seats, the provisions around Maori representation are not entrenched. In other words, the Maori seats are subject to abolition by simple majority.

It’s also worth considering the timing of the electoral option (i.e. five-yearly). The practical effect of the five-yearly option is, I think, to discourage Maori from switching rolls. There may be a constitutional rationale for the restriction, but as the Electoral Commission notes one of the main concerns among Maori is that they cannot switch rolls at or between elections. The Commission recommended that Maori should have option of switching rolls between elections. The compromise option appears to be limiting enrolment several months before or after elections rather than anytime between.

The Maori seats don’t lend Maori more electoral power than non-Maori (arguably). Maori roll voters can only vote in one electorate and cast one party vote. The Maori seats do, however, ensure that kaupapa Maori issues will not be – or at the least don’t have to be – subsumed into the body politic.*** That's something we have to preserve. Now enrol. 

Post script: for a good backgrounder on the Maori seats have a look at this research paper - The Origins of the Maori Seats - by the Parliamentary Library.

*See the Waitangi Tribunal report linked to above. 
**For an accessible discussion citing those facts see this piece at Te Ara.
***That should probably read “subsumed into mainstream political discourse”. However, I like the words body politic and the metaphor it represents.

Jun 7, 2013

Maori Maps

I've been meaning to write about Maori Maps, a mapping site that lists Marae across the country: 

Māori Maps provides a nationwide map of marae, with photos of each marae, contact and background information, and photographs. There are also restricted access areas that marae themselves can use to store their data and photos.

This site contains information for all the principal ancestral marae across Aotearoa, numbering almost 750 marae. Work is ongoing to add marae that are not yet listed, and to deepen the information presented for each location. Please do contact us to advise of changes or additions to the information about any marae

You can visit the site here. Please, do follow the link. It's a great resource and congratulations to the creators.

Jun 5, 2013

Symbolism vs substance: is the Maori Party doing anything?

There was a fascinating exchange in yesterday’s question time between Labour’s Rino Tirikatene and the Minister of Maori Affairs:

RINO TIRIKATENE (Labour—Te Tai Tonga)… to the Minister of Māori Affairs: Does he stand by his statement regarding the Māori Economic Taskforce that “These developments led to immediate outcomes that have supported whānau through the recession… if so, why?

Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Minister of Māori Affairs):… definitely. The work of the task force has resulted in a number of demonstrable successes. Importantly, without these types of interventions, whānau and Māori businesses would undoubtedly have been worse off through difficult economic times.

The interesting parts came in the supplementary questions:

Rino Tirikatene: How can he stand by that statement when the median income for Māori was 93 percent of the overall median income in 2008, and has now, in 2013, fallen to 85 percent of the overall median income?

Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: The good news is—and it is not that good—that there has been a decrease in the last quarter in the rate of unemployed Māori, both Māori youth, by 2 percent, and general Māori, by 1 percent. But, you know, none of us enjoy this low rate, and, clearly, the country has to do more about it.

The Maori unemployment rate is (still) more than double the national rate. Maori youth unemployment is at “crisis” level with more than 1 in 4 Maori youth unemployed. In that context, a 2 and 1 per cent decrease isn’t remarkable. Add a decrease in income (in real terms) and ask if the Maori Party is at the table, but unable to insulate Maori against the worst effects of the global recession, what’s the point? If Maori are going backwards it undermines the at the table rationale. 

[There is a point of order and Rino Tirikatene repeats the question]

Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: Despite the ventures that we have created—in export for Māori, trade training, and helping homes that are in poverty—this is the situation that exists. It is not good; none of us like it, but it is the reality. We are always the first off, last on. So this is what happens. While everything else grows, Māori come last.

I wouldn’t mention Maori exporting – the government cut Maori export funding in the budget.

If the “reality” is that Maori are “first off, last on” and while the New Zealand economy grows “Maori come last”, what’s the point of the Maori Party entering and remaining in government?

I take it that Minister Sharples is implicitly acknowledging that there are structural barriers, but he shrugs his shoulders at those barriers. Meh.

Rino Tirikatene: Why is he claiming that whānau have been supported through the recession when in the Te Tai Rāwhiti - Tūranga region and across Ngāti Kahungunu weekly real per capita income for Māori has fallen by 14 percent, while real per capita income for non-Māori has increased by 3 percent?

Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: It is very lucky that it has not fallen further. But, because of our interventions, it is in a better state. For example, trade training, Māra Kai, Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes, cadetships, marae—these are all things that we have put into place to take care of these things. We have increased Māori business exports, and when you do that the money trickles back to the hapū and the iwi…

“Because of our interventions…” Well, we’ll never know if Maori would have been better or worse off, but I’m prepared to accept that we’re better off with the Maori Party in government. However, I remain convinced that the Maori Party’s success is more symbolic than substantive. On most indicators Maori are regressing or remaining static. The Maori unemployment rate is double the national rate, 51% of prisoners are Maori and “costs prevented 23% of Maori adults, and 8% of Maori children, from visiting a GP” when they needed to.

To reverse 173 years of inequality Maori need policies directed across the entire economy (and society). Whanau Ora, Mara Kai, Warm Up New Zealand – as well intentioned as they are – are not enough. Whanau Ora, Mara Kai and Warm Up New Zealand are remedial measures rather than redistributory measures. In other words, correcting a consequence rather than eliminating the cause. That’s the problem the Maori Party faces: they’re treating the symptoms rather than the cause.

Life in Ford block, Kaiti, Maraenui, Mangere, Otara, Porirua and Wainuiomata is no better than it was 10 years ago. I’d wager that it’s worse. Kawerau has changed – for the worse. Whanau Ora, Mara Kai and Warm Up New Zealand – as well intentioned as they are – don’t reach most Maori. Not enough to create critical mass. Targeted assistance isn’t a panacea. Maori need policies directed across the entire economy (and society). Without it, I'll keep holding that the Maori Party's wins are more symbolic than substantive.