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Turia’s legacy

Written By: - Date published: 7:36 am, December 14th, 2012 - 33 comments
Categories: Maori Issues, maori party, poverty - Tags: ,

Tariana Turia’s on-again off-again retirement is on-again. She will not be standing in 2014, and is looking to her “legacy”:

Turia going, legacy staying

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.

Turia personifies Whanau Ora problem

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.

Review finds uneven distribution of Whanau Ora funding

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.

Editorial: Whanau Ora: Where’s the difference?

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.


33 comments on “Turia’s legacy”

  1. One Tāne Viper 1

    If only Whanau Ora funding was as free from corruption and pork-barrel politics as other areas of government spending. No, wait…

    It’s no excuse: there are problems, but I find it hard to believe that the universally (?) negative media coverage tells the full story.

    • Colonial Weka 1.2

      If you look at the examples, the drug money one is an obvious problem. Of the others, what do we actually know? Someone with a history of violence, child neglect and drug abuse got assistance. If we ruled out people with those histories, wouldn’t that be defeating the purpose of Whanau Ora? Aren’t people with troubled backgrounds part of the core client group? Or was the problem that they were an immigrant? (I’m not familiar with the story).
      The rugby club supposed story got demolished on ts for the Peters backed media beat up that it was. I don’t know the hairdresser story, but are hairdressers not allowed assistance either? Is $3,000 for two hui alot? How many people attended? How far did they travel? What did they do? What were the outcomes?
      I do agree that more accountability would be good, and I’m sure there are problems. Not being able to measure outcomes is a major flaw. But prejudice is getting in the way of us knowing in detail what the actual issues are.

      • stargazer 1.2.1

        so totally agree with this weka. especially the “$3000 grant to a hairdresser to hold two family hui”, which is so reminiscent of the “hip-hop tours” beat-up. i don’t know the facts on the latter, but if you have youth who have been involved in crime and disengaged from the education system finding something they can get into by way of music/dance, then how is that a bad thing? it’s just that hip-hop is what those brown/black people do, so can’t possibly come under the description of art, and can’t possibly have any value /sarcasm.

        ditto re this grant. how is the person’s profession in any way relevant to the grant? and if it is, how about giving the details rather than that throwaway line meant to push all kind of buttons in total ignorance of the facts. it’s exactly the same level of criticism that was leveled at labour some years back, and i’m disappointed that it was included in the post without challenge, in an effort to discredit tariana turia. i’m not particularly a fan of hers, but i expect better than this.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.2

        Someone with a history of violence, child neglect and drug abuse got assistance. If we ruled out people with those histories, wouldn’t that be defeating the purpose of Whanau Ora?

        Nope because he got the assistance for his immigration (ie, not a NZer) and I believe the law actually has rules to prevent such people from immigrating.

        I don’t know the hairdresser story, but are hairdressers not allowed assistance either?

        Will the government give me, a first gen NZer, $3000 to have a family meeting?

        • stargazer

          no doubt it would depend on your family & their history & the social issues involved, as well as the outcomes expected from the meeting. it might also depend on who else was at the meeting – did you, for example, invite a parenting expert or a social worker who could give some education/advice on dealing with particular issues that are affecting your family, or maybe an educational expert.

          see, i really have a problem with this nonsensical reduction to “meeting with my family”. if you think there should some more transparency in terms of outcomes of this particular grant, then say that. but i don’t see why you’d prima facie dismiss it without even thinking about the reasons why such a grant might achieve some pretty useful outcomes.

          • Draco T Bastard

            no doubt it would depend on your family & their history & the social issues involved, as well as the outcomes expected from the meeting. it might also depend on who else was at the meeting – did you, for example, invite a parenting expert or a social worker who could give some education/advice on dealing with particular issues that are affecting your family, or maybe an educational expert.

            Would it? Or would it depend upon me being Maori?
            Now, under those conditions I’m all for the government supporting such a meeting but it needs to be available to everyone and be advertised as being available to everyone.

            • Colonial Weka

              It’s not available to everyone, it is available to people in need. Whanau Ora support is open to all ethnicities.

              From Whanau Ora’s front page –

              Whānau Ora is an inclusive interagency approach to providing health and social services to build the capacity of all New Zealand families in need.It empowers whānau as a whole rather than focusing separately on individual family members and their problems.

              Some whānau will want to come up with their own ways of improving their lives and may want to work on this with a hapū, iwi or a non-government organisation (NGO).

              Other whānau will want to seek help from specialist Whānau Ora providers who will offer wrap-around services tailored to their needs. Whānau will have a practitioner or ‘navigator’ to work with them to identify their needs, develop a plan to address those needs and broker their access to a range of health and social services.


        • Colonial Weka

          “Nope because he got the assistance for his immigration (ie, not a NZer) and I believe the law actually has rules to prevent such people from immigrating.”
          Fine. Then the story is about Whanau Ora assisting someone with their immigration application. Why the need to describe their history of violence. And what if the person is immigrating from the Islands, already has family here, and is in a relationship with tangata whenua, including having children here. And the community that Whanau Ora was supporting decided that there was value in assisting this person? Maybe the person was an overstayer and had been living here for years and had kids/family here. It’s not too hard to think of scenarios where it might be good use of the funding. The problem here is the media beat up and lack of telling us what is really going on.
          “Will the government give me, a first gen NZer, $3000 to have a family meeting?”
          Dude, when you can demonstrate 200years of intentional state oppression of your iwi, hapu and whanau, including suppression of language and culture as well as land and resource theft, then sure, you can have some dollars to try and rebuild your cultural family structures and make them resilient and strong again. Be honest here, do you have a need for the govt to fund your family getting together?

    • Bill 1.3

      Agreed. It’s well nigh impossible to get the whole picture on so called examples of corruption various news outlets have highlighted. And setting down partial news reports as the basis of ‘the legacy’ is problematic on a number of levels. But hey…

  2. Tom Gould 2

    With Turia gone, maybe they will be able to move on from the domination of her personal political baggage and become a genuine MMP party, and a genuine option for a deal with Labour. This news will scare the hell out of Key.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      They would have gone with Labour after the latest election results if it was tenable for that combination to form a government. Obviously the chips fell differently.

      • felixviper 2.1.1

        No way. Tariana still holds a major grudge against Labour to this day. Which is really really stupid, as she supported National doing exactly the thing she begrudges Labour for.
        That’s her true legacy. A pointless, selfish, bitter feud that ultimately hurt the very people she presumes to speak for.

        • Anne

          Made the same point at 8.2.1
          Those here (and Mike Smith’s post) who are extolling her virtues – and I’m sure she has some – are nevertheless showing themselves to have selective memories.

        • mickysavage

          Agreed.  Turia was not treated well by certain Labour MPs but siding up to National is way, way too far a response …

          • Descendant Of Sssmith

            And Labour never held a grudge towards Tari? You have got to be joking suggesting that was a one way street. 

  3. Anne 3

    Could Turia’s on-again, off-again retirement plans have something to do with the ebb and flow of the government’s predicted electoral fortunes?

    Yes, I know. I’m a total cynic – born out of many years of political observation. 🙂

  4. ak 4

    Her legacy’s assured, substantial, and goes way beyond mere putea.

    She’s presided over, and in no small way contributed to, a profound attitudinal change for the better. By simply exhibiting poise and steadfastness at the table of the traditional oppressor, the racist phrase “you know what they’re like” is now consigned to the historical dustbin.

    Albeit thanks largely to the serendipitous requirement for wee Johnny to insure against the poison of Act, Orewa One’s filth can never blight these shores again: and Winnie will take its last dregs to his grave.

    She rightly condemned the Helen Appeasements, however unpalatable it felt: thanks to her, Whanau Ora is Closing the Gaps forced on an unwilling Tory establishment, now cemented in place forever.

    She could easily have imploded it all over Hone: but the peoples’ plight retained paramount position over ego and infighting – for both parties. The door is now open wide for Mana Maori.

    Forgiveness: and steadfast focus on the greater goal.

    Lessons for all, perhaps, who slip toward the viper’s nest of hatred and pettiness.

  5. bad12 5

    Auntie Tari’s legacy???, Lip Service to ‘Her People’ whom She will have sat and watched being beaten upon by National’s bully Bennett through changes in the delivery of Social Security,

    Whanau Ora??? mere feathers in the nest….

  6. Lefty 6

    Social programmes are by their very nature risky and outcomes will often be long term, making their usefulness very difficult to assess.

    This makes them very vulnerable to attacks from the media and politicians (all parties are equally guilty when in opposition), neither of which are renown for their attention span, or their commitment to putting programmes that benefit the underclass ahead of a couple of headlines.

    These sorts of programmes also tend to suffer from the fact that bureacratic processes bastardise good ideas so much they become unrecognisable from the original vision and difficult for the people on the ground to deliver effectively.

    In fact by the time a bunch of people in the relevant ministry(s) have covered their arses there is often nothing useful left to deliver and the programme ends up becoming just another pork barrel project that helps colonise and silence part of the community sector but does little else.

    Remarkably, despite these barriers, some programmes succeed on the ground and do very good work. In these cases they have one more hurdle to clear and often they can’t do it.

    Too often the sorts of consultancies that do reviews for the Government have little understanding of how successful community sector organisations operate, and not the slightest inkling about how the people being helped by programmes live their lives. This usually makes their reports suspect because they simply cannot place the programme in the context of a world they do not know exists outside their nightmares.

    These factors combine to make it unwise to jump to conclusions about the people and organisations running such programmes, or the recipients of their assistance, without far better information than we have.

    Thats not to say they there should be no accountability, its just that we need to develop appropriate means of accountability.

    It is also important to remember that such programmes can be something of a gamble, as such we may lose the stake money, or we may increase it, either way we should be aware that the money is at risk and not get too upset if we lose.

    After all its nowhere near as much as the huge amounts used to bail out the people who gambled with Mr Hubbard or, the money handed out in tax cuts to the rich with no accountability whatsoever.

    • Colonial Weka 6.1

      Completely agree. Ideally, Whanau Ora should have developped its own processes of accountability and measuring outcomes so that they reflected something real and true, not just the top-down assessments from another culture’s way of looking at things.
      I seem to remember that Labour cut funding targeted at grass roots Maori initiatives (because they were accused of being racist :roll:). Some time later a friend told me about the loss of important programmes within her community as a result. Real stuff that was making a real difference to those people. I don’t know how you would assess that from the outside in the short and medium term.

  7. Rich 7

    I don’t really see anything wrong with helping people get into a useful business like making and selling recreational pharmaceuticals. It’s the sort of thing a government should be doing.

    Maybe they should make them legal first, though.

  8. Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has been a great leader for her people and the people of
    New Zealand, she will be sorly missed by New Zealand if only other leaders will take her example.

    • Enough is Enough 8.1

      Hear hear

    • Populuxe1 8.2

      If by following her example you mean stand down, then I heartily concur. As a leader, however, she deserves no accolades. She sold her people out to the National Party and then stood by with folded hands while they introduced policies that negatively impact on the poor – a category that in this country contains a lot of Maori unfortunately. She abused her authority to further the interests of her whanau. She brought the Maori Party into disrepute with the total lack of accountability in Whanau Ora. Her comments on family planning show a complete disjuncture from reality that borders on the out and out destructive. She has been a total disaster even while still in Labour.

      • Anne 8.2.1

        Add to that her five years of obsessive revenge against the Labour Party over the Foreshore and Seabed Act – and Helen Clark in particular.  Remember the howls of disapproval? Yet when the govt. legislated in much the same way over the Water Rights issue… hardly a sound from Tariana Turia.

        • ak

          Yeah yeah Anne. But please explain why Hels failed to reverse the benefit cuts – and then abolished the Special Benefit. Not to mention sticking with the traitorous Bassett hounds in the first place. Deserving of a wee bit of stick I reckon, and if you were fully aware of just what’s been wrung from Slippery, deserving of slack for Tari, at least. No akshilly, would go further: knowing Tory psychology, perhaps entirely feasible that the anti-Labour rhetoric was a deliberate and calculated donation to the betterment of her people. Either way, no call to diss.

          • Populuxe1

            What a lot of incomprehensible gibberish. National do not care about Maori and no amount of cajoling by Tariana was going to change that. Just because Helen’s government might have made a few questionable decisions doesn’t make Tariana any less shit in government, and quite frankly it’s ridiculous to lambaste Pakeha politicians for lapses in standards and behaviour and not hold Maori politicians to those same standards.

  9. Descendant Of Sssmith 9

    In many ways her legacy seems a bit like whanau ora – mixed but mostly positive despite what gets played out in the media.

    The Maori Party was a breath of fresh air that should have made Labour realise how much they had forsaken the poor and disadvantaged.

    She has always spoken articulately and clearly and it’s always been clear to me where she was coming from whether I agreed or not.

    I never felt that the MP should have gone with National but understood the pragmatic approach of being in power. You can’t have partnership with Maori in this country without giving Maori some power and authority and as much as I dislike National they understand that power game much better.

    The increasing of NZS by $20 which benefitted mainly white older people and not deigning to do the same for benefits which would have at least equally helped both Maori and non-maori was a scummy decision as was not allowing the shore and seabed issue make it’s way through the courts – particularly given most restricted and privately owned areas are in European ownership.

    Labour of course have not learned anything from losing a large chunk of the Maori vote let alone from losing working peoples vote.

    There’s a couple of families locally who have used Whanau Ora funding to make some significant difference in their families with much reduced drug and alcohol use and children no longer skipping school amongst other things. The family are driving the changes rather than the agencies who have previously tried to work with them. In that case the cost is very cheap.

    I know a couple of the family and have been impressed with the change they are driving.

    I’d be quite interested by way of equivalency to hear some success from the parenting program funding to Parents Inc.

  10. RedBaronCV 10

    Whanau Ora has always seemed like a classic case of ‘be very careful what you wish for”.
    No matter how well or badly the scheme did I’ve always felt it met the “real” Nact longterm goal.
    Once it was established and a case load shifted over to it, then any other state funded alternative for those using it would disappear, taxpayer funds would start to dry up and then iwi would be invited to use treaty settlement cash to fund the programmes.

    Colour me cynical but longterm it looked like a Nact way of insisting that Maori fund their own welfare out of the treaty settlements.

    Perhaps it’s best if it stays the way it is, unseen or unheralded successes and a few headline failures(?) so that it bulk taxpayer funds don’t go that way for a few years befiore they are wound back leaving nothing in place.

  11. Descendant Of Sssmith 11

    In the 80’s Tariana was quite clear in her view that iwi should provide benefits for Maori.

    It was pointed out then that the dynamic changes when you are given the power to say no to assistance as well as yes.

    At the same time many Maori would not want to be paid benefits by iwi and benefits themselves are surely part of the right to be treated the same as British citizens guaranteed under the treaty. It would be a bit hard to take that right away.

    Potentially if iwi did want to administer benefits an opt in opt out system could possibly work where the person could choose who delivered their service. To some extent you are getting some iwi delivery with the changes for youth judging by the list of providers. It would be interesting to know how that is going for young people. Better, worse, mixed?

    • RedBaronCV 11.1

      You are quite right DoS and I am not saying that this is what Maori want or need. However, the Nacts would love to get rid of or severely curtail social security in the long term. They can achieve this if they shift funds to private providers to dole out and once that is in place they then start to limit the funds transfered.The same sort of thinking that is giving social security for young people under the age of 18 to private providers to dole out to the end user regardless of how well or badly that person is looking after themselves.
      I could see Whanau Ora being used as the “private provider vehicle” then taxpayer funds being cut  back ‘as of course the Treaty settlements can be used instead” . Also sure Nact would far rather see Treaty funds being used for social assistance rather than competing in the rich boys market and actually purchasing back assets for the benefit and use of iwi and indeed all New Zealanders.

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    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s visionless immigration policy
    National’s recent immigration announcement is a continuation of the visionless approach to government that it has displayed in the last three terms. Rather than using the levers of government to implement a sustainable immigration policy that benefits new and current ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seclusion rooms in schools
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  • Public should get a say on new Waikato power station
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  • MSD and their investment approach
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    GreensBy Jan Logie
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  • Certainty needed for community services
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    GreensBy Jan Logie
    3 weeks ago
  • Domestic Violence – some advice for the media
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    GreensBy Jan Logie
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