Written By: - Date published: 7:36 am, December 14th, 2012 - 33 comments
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Tariana Turia’s on-again off-again retirement is on-again. She will not be standing in 2014, and is looking to her “legacy”:
Maori co-leader confident Whanau Ora policy will survive after she quits in 2014.
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia will not stand for Parliament again in 2014, saying she will finally go ahead with plans to retire and could step down as party co-leader by the middle of next year.
Mrs Turia will stay on as a minister until the 2014 election but said she would not stand again – believing both the Maori Party and her treasured Whanau Ora policy were now robust enough to survive the change to a new leader.
Unfortunately the legacy of Whanau Ora is far from a proud one. There are success stories, but over all the programme is a mess. Here’s a sample of coverage.
In the past few months a series of mini-scandals and criticisms have been levelled at the social welfare fund, largely thanks to digging by Winston Peters.
Most damning has been the conviction of Mongrel Mob member Korrey Teeati Cook for supplying drugs he bought with a $20,000 Whanau Ora grant. At first, Turia insisted there was no proof – until Cook was jailed this month, which she dismissed as a one-off.
Peters revealed last week that an immigrant with a history of family violence, child neglect and drug abuse got help from the fund for his residency application. He has also uncovered a $60,000 grant to a rugby club to research “whanau connectedness”, and highlighted a $3000 grant to a hairdresser to hold two family hui.
Around $5.5 million was paid out last year – $164m has been allocated over four years. The grandiloquent NZ First leader wickedly calls Whanau Ora a “bro-ocracy”, a “touchy-feely slush fund” and “a circus with no accountability”. Yet, when called on to defend her policy baby, Turia rarely fronts up. …
If she wants us to believe in her pet policy – which undeniably has its merits – she must lead by example. Whanau Ora needs more accountability and that must start with the minister.
A review by an outside consultancy and released under the Official Information Act says the distribution of money is quite uneven.
It notes nearly a quarter of all individuals who received funding applied for money in the Te Tai Hauauru region, which is represented in Parliament by Tariana Turia and has 8% of the Maori population.
By comparison, the Tamaki Makaurau region, home to a quarter of all Maori, has the lowest number of individuals getting funding.
Maori children are living in damp houses and leaving school without the skills needed to get jobs. Meantime, funding from the Maori Party’s flagship Whanau Ora programme is being used by Dunedin gang members to buy drugs.
Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia has some explaining to do. This is not how she said Whanau Ora would work when she unveiled her revolutionary plan to tackle entrenched Maori disadvantage by transferring responsibility for the delivery of services to Maori from government agencies to Maori providers.
Critical to the experiment, was measurement of outcomes. However, a just-released evaluation of Whanau Ora’s “integration, innovation and engagement” fund indicates that Te Puni Kokiri has no way of knowing whether the $12.6 million distributed through the fund so far has made a lasting difference.
There is some anecdotal evidence of individual whanau benefiting, but no empirical evidence to support those conclusions.
There is, however, incontrovertible evidence that the scheme has been abused and laxly administered. …
If that is Turia’s legacy it is a profoundly flawed one, and I doubt that Whanau Ora will survive a change of government in anything like its current form. If Turia wants a legacy to be proud of she still has time. She can back her words with action and stand up for kids in poverty. That would be a worthwhile way to go.