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Whanau Ora, who gains?

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, February 15th, 2010 - 30 comments
Categories: maori party, national, welfare - Tags:

Whanau Ora is a terrible idea. It is the beginning of the privatisation of social services, wrapped in a cloak of Maori-centred solutions for Maori.

The Maori Party and the National Party can’t agree over (among many things) whether Whanau Ora will be open to all or just for Maori but the reality is that it shouldn’t go ahead at all.

It’s not often I would quote Michael Lhaws but he’s got it right this time: “Whanau Ora is just craziness. Devolution to inadequate and incompetent ethnic organisations has not worked before it will not work tomorrow either.”

No-one seems to know quite what the private organisations will be doing in Whanau Ora, apart from clipping the ticket.

This looks like a recipe for a layer of amatuerish, inconsistent private bureaucracy between social services departments and the people who need their assistance. No one seems to have any evidence that this will lead to better outcomes for Maori families in need.

What we do know is it will end up lining the pockets of the Maori Party’s mates in the Maori elite. No wonder John Key is so keen to extend the model to all New Zealanders.

30 comments on “Whanau Ora, who gains? ”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    I get the impression that the idea is to make it up as they go along, and hope that it’ll somehow work out better for Maori than the status quo did.

    It is possible that it will work out better, but I think any improvement won’t be worth the cost. It also gives the Maori Party a foot in the door to re-election amongst their constituency (“we will save our programme from National and Labour governments, so vote for us!”), much like National had to promise it wouldn’t gut WFF.

  2. Tigger 2

    My question is, if it is Maori-for Maori then who gets to define what ‘Maori’ is?

  3. Bored 3

    Its very obvious to me that the agenda of the Maori party is one and the same as the NACTs, it is the creation and retention of privilege for their respective elites at the expense of the rank and file, both pakeha and Maori (or anybody else for that matter not born to class and title).

  4. felix 4

    Pretty sure they used this to make that graphic.

    • Tiger Mountain 4.1

      well spotted, ‘going forward’ Felix, the Whanau Ora graphic is mindbendingly meaningless but does a good job of covering up the real graphic underneath.

  5. ghostwhowalksnz 5

    Well, we know that the ‘whanu ora’ will be doing stomach stapling for Maori come what may.
    If they decide thats their number one priority no one else can change it

  6. Pete 6

    Isn’t this what they are trying to do (sort of):

    The only difference I can see is that Tariana wants to focus solely on the Maori Constituency.

    I understand Community Link is early days, but why doesn’t the government recognise the service that they already have and use it to promote Whanau Ora? Problem solved I’d suggest.

  7. Taco 7

    Is that a spelling suggestion baked into the png?


  8. Is ‘whanau ora’ the ‘one stop shop’ concept for ethnicallly based mental health and social service delivery,

    Only instead of a shop it’s a branded retail chain ?

  9. bobo 9

    That graphic looks better suited to a bad NZ Flag design. Have they actually got the 1 billion or is it a promise of 1 billion in funding?

  10. to whom it may concern
    you moan that maori have to fix their own problems and when maori create a solution you moan because you can’t get your head around it. Why does a solution have to fit your paradigm? Can a solution be a journey not just a destination? Is everything working so well at the moment that we don’t have to think of other solutions?

    for me I’d rather work towards a holistic solution where all parts of the equation are considered as much as possible, rather than the western model of treating the symptons and not looking at the underlying causes of issues and problems. Nothing happens in isolation, no problem occurs in isolation.

    the iwi elite line is such bullshit – it just fits your class-war-agenda – it’s become a meaningless mantra disguised as insight.

    • Bright Red 10.1

      I don’t hear anyone moaning that Maori have to fix their own problems, except for the Right.

      “you moan because you can’t get your head around it.”
      come on then, enlighten us. We’re all curious as to exactly what the plan for a billion dollars of taxpayer money is. Help us ‘get our head around it’ or just explain where the money will go.

      I am worried about Whanau Ora because it looks like a blank cheque to the same old crowd who are an elite with the interests of an elite. They haven’t delivered for ordinary Maori in the past, giving them more taxpayer money with no oversight isn’t going to see that money get to the Maori who need it now.

      • marty mars 10.1.1

        who are these ‘same old crowd who are an elite with the interests of an elite’ – the gnats have only been in a year so the non-delivery, as you say, for ordinary maori is whose fault? the ‘maori elite’ i spose

        • Bright Red

          No it’s the fault of a system that creates poverty and disenfranchisment. It’s the fault of colonalism and capitalism, but it’s also the fault of the Maori elite who hog what gains Maori do win for themselves.

          • marty mars

            there are good bad and ugly in all peoples – there are no ‘iwi elite’ there are indivduals who are elite – just like everywhere

            but i do agree about the system, especially capitalism and the great neocon con that this country’s leadership has swallowed hook, line and sinker for a wee while now

            • Bright Red

              The Maori elite are the same leadership class that has always existed. Now corporatised and increasingly acting more like the Pakeha business elite and defending similiar interests.

              You can see the tension between the Maori party wanting to play to the interests of this maori business elite vs its supposed commitment to the poor and the environment all the time. It usual sides with the elite, because, frankly, that’s the Party’s true base.

              • well let’s cut to the chase – correct and forgive me if I’m wrong but i assume you are talking about Ngai Tahu as being an example of íwi elite or what was the new/old one – iwi corporate/business elite – that is the accusation usually bandied around – true?

    • pollywog 10.2

      Whats not to get ones head around. It seems to be a ‘by Maori for Maori’ initiative paid for by every other taxpayer which the Maori want to keep exclusively for Maori.

      If you want it, fund it yourselves out of treaty settlements for individual iwi and spare the holistic bullshit. I worked social services in Sth auckland a while back and the problem with ethnically/cultural based initiatives was that it spread the dollar too thin, you’d get duplication of services and the services provided weren’t adequate to the task.

      There’d be cook island, tongan, fijian, samoan groups all applying for a limited funding dollar for essentially the same services, which were nearly always underdelivered, with the onus on the groups being mostly to tick the boxes/count the beans and account to the funding body rather than do the much needed work at the coalface.

      Oh and then theres the consultation process, as if a powerpoint presentation and a free lunch is gonna solve the problem but it’ll sure produce some nice leaflets, which you cant even wipe your arse with cos the paper is that expensive glossy shit.

      I can’t see how ‘whanau ora’ won’t just add another level of bureaucracy and redirect funding to middle managers and resource gatekeepers rather than deliver the services it says it will, especially if you get individual iwi wanting to provide only for their iwi. Perhaps you can enlighten me Marty?

      And where does the iwi elitism come in ? well you can award contracts to whoever you see fit but you can pretty much guarantee it’ll mostly be along family lines that have a pedigree in talking the walk.

      So if you redirect a billion dollars from somewhere to somewhere else, someones gonna miss out and no prizes for guessing who that’ll be. Yup…the invisible polynesian underclass who are already suffering massive unemployment which is bound to impact on health and social services.

      But the maori party dont give a fuck about us despite the rhetoric and despite the fact that you are us and we’re suffering the same plight from the colonial/capitalist hangover.

      • marty mars 10.2.1

        it is fair enough that many left leaning folk are disappointed that the maori party is trying to look after their constituents – maori – i can’t remember them ever saying they were going to do anything different – so maybe the people that are disappointed should look at their own expectations – what it says to me is that there is a big gap now that both dinosaur parties are going for the centre – a big gap

        • Marty G

          I think the issue is that the Maori Party consistently hasn’t done anything for its constituents, well not anything for the poor Maori anyway. It has voted confidence and supply to a rightwing government that has cut ACC, work rights, education opportunities, and environmental protections, while pursuing a bash the poor ethos on benefits and crime.

          Take the issue of private prisons. All the evidence is that these are a terrible idea but some of the Maori elite are keen because they see a money-making venture. Does the Maori Party side with the poor Maori or the rich Maori? We know that answer.

          • marty mars

            IMO all maori are poor in this country marty – even the rich ones

            anyway we will go down the class verses identity debate and i’m pretty sure we know our positions on that one

            time to move on – for me anyway – i’m going to spend time with my son now

            nga mihi

  11. big bruv 11

    It is not often that I agree with the authors of the Standard, however, this is one of those times.

    Whanau Ora will achieve nothing, it might mask or hide the continuing failure of many Maori (and I suspect that is its real intent) but it will do nothing for those at risk.

  12. jeeper laws and bb – now i know I’m right 🙂

  13. tc 13

    Kiwi not Iwi …less beauracrats …..yeah right…..what complete hypocracy !

    Blatantly obvious that the MP are all about further divisions within NZ society that favor them and stuff any concept about one NZ………so much for bridging any gap and it shows Turiana’s M.O……watch key and co smudge it as anti-maori should anyone challenge it…..FFS this sums up the entire coalition……governing for minorities and leaving a right mess behind.

    • big bruv 13.1

      To be fair TC the “mess” was what Neville Key inherited.

      My dislike of the man is because he has spent the best part of fifteen months coasting along with the failed policies of the previous government.

      He might be a nice bloke, hell, I would not mind having him over for a BBQ and a few beers but he was not elected to be nice, he was elected to get this rapidly emerging third world nation out of its socialist “look to the state for everything” mentality.

      By ANY measure he (Key) is failing miserably.

      • felix 13.1.1

        I dunno bb, he’s doing pretty well in the polls…

        • big bruv


          You have to look at what he is up against, at the moment there is no real choice for the people of NZ.

          Labour need a new look and a new strategy, Key is vulnerable, of that there is no doubt the problem is that Labour and its supporters can only see one way of attacking him and that way is also failing miserably.

  14. gobsmacked 14

    John Key explains “whanau ora”, today:


    Short version: it’s shiny and new, so it must be a very good thing, it’s definitely Maori and also definitely not Maori, and … look, stop carping, just Believe, People!

  15. Descendant Of Smith 15

    In the 80’s Tariana had a clear view that Iwi / hapu should deliver social services and benefit payments so I’m not sure why anyone is surprised that she should continue to pursue this.

    The difficulties I see now are the same as I saw then:
    1. The expertise and competence of those delivering the services around areas such as financial management
    2. How do people opt in from one service to the next
    3. It seems nice to have the ability to pay assistance to people but how does the relationship change when you have to say no to someone and have you really thought about that
    4. The need for the government agency providing the funding to actively support the organization delivering – it is not enough to hand the funding over and leave them to fail.

    Older and maybe wiser now I would also add based on my observation of the devolution of services in Health and other areas:

    1. How to deliver without having endless meetings and no delivery
    2. How to avoid duplication of services, particularly in small communities
    3. How to manage salary payments / perks for executives in the organisations
    4. How to avoid nepotism – are they private sector where no one cares about it or public sector where different standards apply?
    5. Who is accountable for success / failure – funding agency, minister?
    6. Do middle class Maori really want to deal with the people at the bottom – the gang members, the drug addicts and so on? My general impression of Maori leadership is that they don’t. They would much rather put their effort into helping those on the way up. Many have got out of those environments and don’t wish to return.

    No doubt for some places and some Iwi / hapu things will work out well, for others they won’t. It’s certainly worth trying some alternatives and there is potential for both success and failure.

    There needs to be a lot more detail about how it will work before I’m convinced however.

  16. PK 16

    “But the maori party dont give a fuck about us despite the rhetoric and despite the fact that you are us and we’re suffering the same plight from the colonial/capitalist hangover.”

    ?? Maori were already in NZ. Polynesians came for work, just as Asians, Indians and others did. If it was so terrible why did they come in the first place? Why do people continue to try and come to NZ?

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