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Whanau Ora report unacceptably poor

Written By: - Date published: 6:42 pm, April 8th, 2010 - 41 comments
Categories: privatisation, public services, welfare - Tags:

Finally, I can reveal the operational structure of Whanau Ora. The left side is the existing system, the right side is all the Whanau Ora additions. I drew this myself in five minutes in Paint but it’s about as professional as anything you’ll find in the Whanau Ora Taskforce report.

Hmm, looks like a lot of new ‘back office’ jobs, eh? A lot of private ticket clipping for no actual change. And still no-one knows quite how those private Whanau Ora providers will deliver services from themselves, government bodies, and NGOs.

Maybe we should turn to the official diagram:

I’m not even kidding. This is the Government Taskforce’s report. What does this graphic even mean? Look at it. I want to mock it but I can’t, it’s just a collection of buzz phrases arranged in a nonsensical array with arrows and circles that don’t mean anything.

God, I would love to see a journo or Labour MP hold up this graphic and ask John Key to explain it, section by section.

I read through the Whanau Ora Taskforce’s report looking for the substance. I searched in vain. It was 70-odd pages of platitidues that added up to ‘trust us, now give us the money’ (funnily enough, the heads of the Taskforce will also head the group rolling out Whanau Ora and, then, probably the Trust they recommend creating, nice work if you can get it)

Basic questions are not addressed in the report. Questions like:

– what precisely are the problems we are trying to fix?

I mean, it’s obvious that there are negative socio-economic indicators but how is existing service delivery failing to minimise them? (note: not eliminate, policies aren’t failures just becasue they don’t totally eradicate the problem any more than seat belts are failures because people still die in car crashes). The taskforce makes no mention of this.

– what the expected outcomes of Whanau Ora, the modelled results of doing things this way?

There are none. If Gerry Brownlee’s mining policy is ‘dig and pray’ this is ‘reform and pray’. There is no basis in empirical evidence for believing that Whanau Ora will change anything. And if it’s not going to change anything, what’s the point (clue: privatisation/’starve the beast’)

– what evidence is there that the Whanua Ora model is the optimal system to resolve these problems (which haven’t been identified)?

Peter Dunne says “try something new and innovative. The reality is that much of the work to help Maori lift across a bunch of social indicators just has not worked, so it makes sense to try something else,”. It doens’t make sense to just try anything else though. Just because there is a problem and someone says they have a solution doesn’t mean that their solution is a the best one, or even a solution at all. The Taskforce makes no attempt to show hat its model is optimal.

Let’s be clear, the Left has no problem with social serice providers cooperating. It was Helen Clark, you’ll remember, who spoke of 1,000 families who created the most damage in society and needed a coordinated approach by sate agencies and NGOs. It was Labour that set up pathways for partnership. In a number of impovershed regions around the country there are now ‘one-stop’ social service centres.

Continuing that is all good. But that’s not all Whanau Ora does. Instead, it tries to outsource the coordination and service povision (sometimes?) to private providers that will be unaccountable and without evidence that this will lead to cost savings or improved outcomes.

Of course, there will be cost savings, that’s the most measurable thing that Whanau Ora could deliver and it’s clearly all that Bill English is interested in it delivering (and he controls its purse-strings). Private providers will seek to undercut each other for contracts, and that will mean worse services. That’s the inevitable, ingraitned result of the privatisation model.

The last thing we need to be doing is cutting corners when trying to resolve the issues that face the families in the most need. It is worth serious investment to get them off the track they are own. But what we are going to get is corner-cutting, corruption, and incompetence – arising from an half-arse policy. Because this Government has decided it wants to buy off Tariana Turia and sees Whanau Ora as an opportunity for privatisation by stealth.

There’s a reason that these are the first public service reforms since Ruthansia that have the Actoids excited. Whatever it is in Turia’s fevered imagination, in reality Whanau Ora will be about killing off social services, first by outsourcing, then by cutting off the lifeblood of government funding.

41 comments on “Whanau Ora report unacceptably poor”

  1. ianmac 1

    It was said at 5:30 Nat Radio tonight that the Private Providers could carry on as they are now without losing funding or opt in to be part of the new scheme. Sounds a bit contradictory to me. ??

    • umm I listened and didn’t hear that although mary was trying hard to get her view across.

      It seems most commenters (not necessarily you ianmac), are still either thinking maori are stuck back in 1840 or so, or they are so thick that they can be sucked in easily – newsflash – both of those modes of thinking are wrong. Maori are not the same maori of 1840 any more than you are the same as your rellies where ever they were in 1840. And maori are not stupid – whatever the gnats are thinking, just like whatever labs are thinking – who cares – maori will work towards their goals, within their kaupapa. It could be that the gnats and labour wish maori to fail and balls it up so that they can point their finger and say, “i told you so”, “you need us”, “come on, let me look after you, you poor thing.” But maori I know laugh at that.

      Maybe this is part of the movement towards tino rangatiratanga – i hope so.

  2. Rich 2

    what precisely are the problems we are trying to fix?

    John Key’s reliance on ACT and their retention of Epsom for a possible second term majority. His worry that the Maori Party will align with Labour rather than with a more radical National government next time round.

    what the expected outcomes of Whanau Ora, the modelled results of doing things this way?

    The Maori Party will safeguard their mate’s gravy train by supporting Key or his National successor beyond the next election.

    • big bruv 2.1

      What do you mean “possible second term”?

      Because you lot are so hopelessly lost the gutless Neville Key will definitely get a second term and probably a third.

      Eighteen years of failed Labour party and Labour lite policies will see this country broke.

      FFS!, start acting like an opposition and not some gang of individuals running around shooting at everything in the hope that you manage to hit something, accept that the people did NOT get it wrong, they voted you lot out of office more than Key into office.

      Apologise, say you were wrong and offer a real alternative, one thing is sure, the public are not listening to you at the moment and they will continue to ignore you as long as you continue to look like a party who is lost because the ex leader took off when she got a hiding at the last election (after spending millions of our dollars purchasing herself a job at the UN)

      • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1

        That’s right bruv. The people are hankering for ACT and Libz style lassez fair play to ya mate teabaggerism.

        You can tell this by the polls, and the little voice in your head.

        How is your mob doing? What is your mob? Are the people listening to them? How can you tell?

        It seems to me that you think that NZ thinks the way you do. You voted for massive change, didn’t get it, and now you are all pissed off, and blaming teh left!! for not being your sort of opposition. bastards!!!

        Your sort of opposition does exist however, it’s just reeeeeely reaaaaaally teeny. Though I’m sure if you had a big enough sample size, they’d show up in the polls.

  3. The policies of the Maori Party being enacted this term are bad for Maori, bad for New Zealanders full stop. They are, at best, about window dressing, and at worst, have the potential to cause real harm to those they are supposed to be helping.

    I don’t see how their brand is helped by formally supporting National in the governing arrangement, it is plain to see that all bar one (or sometimes two) of its MPs are struggling with this relationship.
    Over the long-term, mana is not enhanced by baubles, patronage or junkets. It is principled decision-making, standing by your beliefs, and advocating in the interests of one’s people that is the ultimate mana-enhancer.

  4. Rob Mackintosh 4

    O Whanau my Whanau! our fearful trip is done;
    The waka has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
    The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
    While follow eyes the steady Key, the vessel glib and blaring:
    But O heart! heart! heart!
    O the bleeding drops of red,
    Where on the deck my Whanau lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.

  5. What does this graphic even mean?

    Something like this?

    The similarity is disturbing.

    • lprent 5.2

      Does look disturbing similar…

    • pollywog 5.3

      It’s not enough to read the report with a forked tongue, a closed mind and to look at the diagrams with eurocentric eyes because you wont see anything you’re not supposed to.

      I suggest reading it with the magic jawbone and looking at the diagrams with the enlightened 3rd eye of the tuatara. Let him perch on your shoulder, whisper in your ear and listen…shhhhh. Eliminate the generations of white noise and you might just hear something you need to learn.

      Kia Ora

      Ora, being a force, an indicator of among other things, health, much in the same way as an aura in eurocentric terms denotes a gauge for determining ones well being.

      Kia, is to give unto you from me, in the first person perspective.

      Kia Ora then is to say… MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU !

    • felix 5.4

      The the wording used on the imperial one is far more meaningful though.

    • Cnr Joe 5.5

      Is the Lucas Law version of Godwins?

    • Kotu 5.7

      my gosh, disturbing graph i must say….

  6. IrishBill 6

    Of course, there will be cost savings, that’s the most measurable thing that Whanau Ora could deliver and it’s clearly all that Bill English is interested in it delivering

    By which you mean short-term cost savings. I struggle to see how this won’t set up another lost generation with all of the associated medium-term costs.

  7. Tiger Mountain 7

    Whanau Ora: Privatisation by a hundred contracts, crony politics and fiefdoms, exemption for the ruling trust and staff from the OIA, and distortion of the whanau model to potentially expose individuals to significant breaches of individual rights and privacy.

  8. h1 8

    Trying again.
    The SO is a front line staffer who deals with the people Whanau Ora is supposedly going to help and neither herself nor her management have heard boo. The suspicion, rightly or wrongly, is that the whole gig is being set up as a salve to the mana of aunty Tari and co with the objectives being to better the statistics. And if the ends require a means akin to Ratzinger then so be it.

    Tiger Mountain above has laid out neatly the end result.

  9. prism 9

    Taking money from other programmes for Whanau Ora may be a sensible move provided of course that noticeable improvements can be seen when monitoring and achievement of targets is summarised in a few years.

    For much time the cost of administering a system that concentrates on counting interaction with the community as in how much communication by phone, email, personal visits, has been money spent on looking at the practices of the organisation. Outcomes and outputs being measured should be the way to go, with a cost component checked also, to make sure they don’t escalate.

    Money can be spent more wisely than taking out full page adverts in the TV Guide as they did last year, celebrating the wide qualities and skills that good parents show. This was paid for by the Families Commission. Talking the talk about reducing violence can only achieve so much through education, walking the walk with the groups where it most arises through working face to face with programs will use this funding more effectively.

    I have been reading an old NZ Listener about book by Kerry Spackman talking about an advanced visualisation program he has devised that helps a person to work towards a better future that he/she has thought about and sees as a goal.
    Intensive work that gives successful outcomes to individuals participating that turns their minds around, opening up new ways to think, act and react will save money later, and open the way to a better life which will flow on to their families.

  10. tsmithfield 10

    From a broad perspective I am in favour of a broader, co-ordinated approach that focuses on the wider environment as well as the individual. It is often the case that the individual behaviour can’t be addressed unless the broader environmental factors are also addressed. There is plenty of evidence from the field of community psychology to support this view.


    Whether or not this particular initiative will be successful is debatable. However, given that nothing else seems to be working, I think it is at least worth giving it a trial and then assess the outcomes.

    • BLiP 10.1

      Thought cretins like you would be against this Nanny State approach to community issues.

      • tsmithfield 10.1.1

        Nice to see you in a happy mood today.

        So, what part of my post do you disagree with and why? Or is being abusive your only modus operandi?

    • Bright Red 10.2

      who’s talking about a trial? This is going straight into the big time brother.

      it’s like national standards. you don’t need a trial when you know, just know, that you’ve got it right.

      and let’s not be silly, of course other programmes are working. they just haven’t eliminated problems, they have certainly reduced them. look at countries without them. look at the poverty and bad outcomes in the US.

      • Philopastry 10.2.1

        Other programmes are not working, hence the continual growth of imprisonment in NZ, which is the best indicator of the success of social policy and initiatives.

        • Bright Red

          well, the continued growth of the prison population is a policy and it isn’t working. But consider the results if you didn’t have CYFS or public health or the Police or all the other programmes.

          Clearly, these policies are reducing what would otherwise be much worse situations, that means they are working. Are they working perfectly? No. But to say ‘they’re not working, because the problems haven’t disappeared, let’s just try anything else’ is to sacrifice your rationality for knee-jerk-ism

          • Philopastry

            granted. CYFS, public health, police and other programmes are better than nothing at all. but, with those agencies etc. what you get is a detached, ‘outsider looking in’ solution to a problem which is better addressed from the inside out. changing the mindset and/or the philosophical perspective of the person in need to help them make better decisions for themselves is ultimately the goal.
            Give the man a fish, he’ll feed his family for a day… give the man a net, and he can feed his family for a lifetime. (provided the fishery hasn’t collapsed. another issue)
            From my understanding of the reports and commentary around Whanau Ora, that’s what the policy will be trying to achieve.
            How they do it? yes, that’s something to ‘look forward’ to.

      • tsmithfield 10.2.2

        BR, I understand the details are still to be finalised, so I will reserve my judgement on the program until then.

        I guess the success of current programs depends on how you define success. If success means putting more money in the hands of the disadvantaged, then I accept you have a point. However, if it means making a difference in terms of education, health, crime statistics etc, then I am not so sure.

        I thought you would look favorably at programs that at least have the potential to focus on the individual as part of a wider community. After all, there is plenty of evidence to show that environment is a major determinant of behaviour. If we can change the environment, then individual behaviour is more likely to fall into line.

        • Bright Red

          “I thought you would look favorably at programs that at least have the potential to focus on the individual as part of a wider community”

          I do. I also like programs that have some kind of evidence-based, cohesive thinking behind them.

          • tsmithfield

            I would agree with you on that.

            I still think there not enough detail to make a judgement either way on its likely effectiveness of this particular program. However, I think there is good evidence of interventions that have proved successful that could be drawn upon for this program. Therefore, I am not sure I agree with you that the program won’t be successful, especially when we don’t have sufficient detail on this yet.

  11. tc 11

    Crikey I thought i’d seen enough bewildering meaningless diagrams/johari windows/balanced scorecards/surfboards etc in the corporate world but that’s a stunning piece of BS.

    As long as the votes keep coming from the MP & the stapled one’s happy she’s got her trough sorted it’s job done and it only cost them some reduced services at the sharp end….cheap as.

    • Armchair Critic 11.1

      The best meaning I could get of it was that their plan is to go round and round in circles spinning meanless bullshit.
      Tariana Turia seemed to confirm that on NatRad last night. The only thing she said that made any sense was “I don’t like you line of questioning” and clearly she didn’t like it. How dare the interviewer ask her to explain what she would actually do with that billion dollars of ours.

  12. gobsmacked 12

    Criticism of Whanau Ora on the Standard seems pretty mild compared with the Dominion-Post …



  13. Funny how one set of idealogues view things in terms of financial gains and losses when it suits their agenda.

    Whatever happend to the immeasurable value afforded ‘quality of life’ and fuck the monetary cost if it’s going to improve the weakest and most vulnearble’s lot ?

    Sheeeit…all up in arms about the value and cost of being able to picnic in some choice spots without having a mine to blot your view but fuck the value of a hard done by family the current system continually fails.

    How about we stick a poor, stressed and dysfunctional maori family dead centre of our precious picnic spots for the tourists to look at instead ?

    For fucks sake can we not look, as some Pasifikans still do, beyond the experience of our own lifetime and see benefits for future generations in the policies and intitiatives we implement today.

    ‘Whanau ora’ is a seed that needs nurturing not a tree that needs cut down to size or to put in rugby analogies we’re so fond of. Play the ball not the player !

  14. tsmithfield 14

    Another point is that I think it is a bit rich to be complaining about NGO’s likely to profit from this initiative.

    I remember reading at the time (don’t ask me to link now) that one reason that Labour abolished the tax restrictions on donations was because they recognised that voluntary NGO’s tended to deliver services in a much more cost effective way than the state could. Thus encouraging donations to voluntary NGO’s was a good use of money.

    • Pascal's bookie 14.1

      I remember that the National Party opposed the F&S Act because they liked the idea of State ownership, as a precurser to the Nationalisation of the means of production and exchange. (don’t ask me to link this)

      • tsmithfield 14.1.1

        PB, fair enough. LOL.

        Here is about the closest I can get:


        In this release Peter Dunne made the point that voluntary organisations make an invaluable contribution to society, and that giving to them should be encouraged.

  15. George D 15

    You know, the funniest thing for me is that 10 years ago the positions were reversed. Closing The Gaps, the last grand scheme to uplift Maori, was being hammered by National, and the Labour Party quietly shelved it.

    History has some weird lessons.

  16. Shane 16

    Aah, its the “Law of Fancy Graphics”: put a fancy graphic in your document and it’s supposed to make all your arguments seem more credible or professional!

  17. Kotu 17

    Give maori the opportunity to work through their problems, but can they – the Maori Party first admit they have some serious problems and social issues to deal too. if the previous social services model did not assist in anyway i would like to see a timeframe put on whanau ora to provide some sound results of progress for it’s clientele….

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