web analytics

You know your policy sucks when…

Written By: - Date published: 12:42 pm, April 9th, 2010 - 21 comments
Categories: privatisation, public services - Tags: , , ,

It’s so vacuous and vapid that even Guyon Espiner is concerned about the lack of quality analysis and policy design.

To be sure, Guyon didn’t voice these concerns on air and he starts his blog by falling into the “we’ve got to do something, this is something, let’s do this” logical fallacy. And the “we have policies targeting social problems, those problems still exist, therefore those policies are useless and wasteful” nonsense, which is like arguing seat belts don’t work because people still die in car crashes. And surprise, surprise he automatically accepts the premise that privatisation will deliver better results.

But, eventually, Guyon manages to ask ‘hey, what is this Whanau Ora thing?’ and he’s unimpressed with the answers:

The taskforce report reads like a motivational self-help guide with banal slogans spread across its 71 pages. “Whanau Ora – well that’s us, it’s who we are,” reads one. “Whanau have to describe success in their own terms,” reads another. My personal favourite is: “Whanau ora is going to take us there and it has been since the beginning of time.”

Sometimes even the main text descends into complete psycho-babble: In searching for what Whanau Ora actually means the taskforce concludes that “whanau ora is distinctive because it recognises a collective entity, endorses a group capacity for self determination, has an intergenerational dynamic, is built on a Maori cultural foundation, asserts a positive role for whanau within society and can be applied across a wide range of social and economic sectors.”

So the challenge for the proponents of Whanau Ora is to explain how it will work and then to prove it does work.

Indeed. I noticed the silly ‘motivational’-type phrases in the report too. To me they sum up everything that is wrong with this half-arsed policy.

Guyon goes on to say that he likes Matt McCarten’s description of Whanau Ora as a ‘one-stop shop’ for social services. The problem is that the minister responsible, Tariana Turia, explicitly rejected that definition when Guyon put it to her on Q+A and such ‘one-stop shops’ already exist.

Guyon ends with a pretty silly comment. The same one, incidentally, that Wellington Airport passive-aggressively made to Wellingtonians when everyone hated the ‘Wellywood’ sign:

The challenge for the critics is: Have you got a better idea?

Hell, I’m a sucker, I’ll take the bait.

One better idea is not signing over hundreds of millions of dollars to unaccountable private organisations with no plan, no clear notion of what specific problems need to be addressed and how, no measures of success, and no checks against corruption. It would be better to carry on as is than take hundreds of millions out of existing services to make a punt in the dark.

Another better idea would be not cutting Pathways to Partnership, not cutting education, not cutting health.

My final idea stems from the example of the family that Whanau Ora is supposedly going to somehow help: single mum, three kids all in trouble because mum isn’t around because she’s working shifts.

It seems to me the problem in that family arises principally from the fact that mum can’t get decent work with hours that also allow her to be there for her family. The Whanau Ora report has some nonsense about an advisor ‘helping her find more suitable employment’ but that ignores the fundamental problem – the jobs don’t exist.

If the government were serious about helping families in need it’s priority would be getting people back into work and its second and third priorities would better pay and conditions for low income workers.

The fact that is has gone with this Whanau Ora nonsense instead shows it has no real intention of tackling the causes of this country’s social ills.

21 comments on “You know your policy sucks when… ”

  1. Its not a ‘one stop shop’…it’s more like ‘home delivery’ and thats the way the world is going.

    The problem with the solo mum example isnt the job. You could give her a job that pays well enough for her to spend quality time with her kids but thats not to say money will make her a better parent.

    The problem is how do you mend a broken spirit. Can you not see that’s what Maori suffer from ? Their present spirit is at odds with their past and unless you can reconnect them, they and their kids don’t have the spirit to look towards a ‘brighter future’ 🙂

    In dickensian terms, think of Scrooge and the ghosts of christmas. Whanau ora counsellors are putting themsleves in the role of spiritual healers and will time trip clients in the hope of reconnecting them to the nobler values of their ancestors and future progeny.

    But of course Tariana isn’t going to say that cos most eurocentrist have no idea how Te ao Maori/the Maori world works and nor will she hold that world up for even more public ridicule.

    Some things are just too sacred to be shared with just anyone. Remember that magic jawbone i referred to. It’s a tool for reinterpreting sacred lore and not everyone knew or knows how to use it.

    captcha : trees (some cant see the wood because of it as they have a massive splinter in the minds eye)

    • pollywog 1.1

      *edit*…”see” the wood dammit ! [fixed — r0b]

    • quenchino 1.2

      But of course Tariana isn’t going to say that cos most eurocentrist have no idea how Te ao Maori/the Maori world works and nor will she hold that world up for even more public ridicule

      Bullshit. That’s as stupid as saying that most Maori have no idea how the European world works; or that Maori have some kind of monopoly on being ‘spiritual’.

      Pushing on down that kind of separatist path leads off into wilderness.

      • pollywog 1.2.1

        That’s as stupid as saying that most Maori have no idea how the European world works; or that Maori have some kind of monopoly on being ‘spiritual’.

        But fella…Most Pasifikans inclusive of Maori have no idea how the european world works. From left/right wing capitalism/socialism, to the market, to financial literacy, dealing with insurance, mortgages, hire purchases, even to MMP and parliamentary process etc.

        You ever been to a marae and had to stand there all awkwardly not knowing the protocols and procedures ? That’s how some of us feel going into banks, insurance companies, gov’t institutions etc with people in funny uniforms speaking gobble de gook to us.

        I dont hold your ignorance against you, why hold yours against us and expect us to be the same ? I’m not saying Maori have a ‘spiritual’ monopoly but spirits do play a large part in our everyday lives, more so than the average eurocentric NZer.

        The way i see it, pushing off down that path leads to self determination and re empowering, but hey, some people will always ridicule what they don’t understand.

        • insider 1.2.1.1

          “But fella Most Pasifikans inclusive of Maori have no idea how the european world works. From left/right wing capitalism/socialism, to the market, to financial literacy, dealing with insurance, mortgages, hire purchases, even to MMP and parliamentary process etc”

          That;s about education and experience not inherently cultural. What you seem to be saying is that they are, as Pasfikans, incapable of learning from experience. Isn’t that incredibly patronising if not borderline racist? It probably would be considered the latter if I, a middle aged WASP, said it.

          I’m beginning to wonder how the Maori I know have ever managed to get jobs, or mortgages or a driver’s licence, or start businesses and pay their taxes. I must have dreamed it.

          • pollywog 1.2.1.1.1

            Education and experience from someone who not so much sold out their culture, but compromised it to become more eurocentrically culturally focused. In doing so, connections to ancestral spirits were weakened and in breeding from that culture of mainstream success, future generations went on to compromise their culture even more to get jobs, mortgages and start businesses.

            Of course we learnt by experience and mostly we learnt from bad experiences. Native Maori/Pasifikan bad, transplanted christian euro good. The underlying message constantly reinforced being, if we want to get ahead and prosper in the world we have to become more like europeans. I suppose the extreme is the ludicrously foppish, king of Tonga.

            Theres nothing racist about it. I don’t buy into the false racial construct. It’s all about culture, elitism and the compromise and sacrifice of traditional values.

            • insider 1.2.1.1.1.1

              my ancestors could have used the same arguments when my culture went from animistic religion to monotheism, and abandoned runes for Latin script and those fancy Arabic numerals. “I mean, what have the Romans ever done for us….?”

              If you want to see noble savage done over by cultural imperialism, so be it. I see it as a practical example of cultural evolution to adapt to forces greater than any individual or culture. You can rail at those who adapt as sellouts/uncle toms from your pataka but it’s not particularly helpful and will likely look as quaint as the guy with the sandwich board saying “the end is nigh”. Not everything that has been abandoned was good and not everything adopted was bad.

              PS enjoy your cultural elitistly imposed weekend 🙂

              • pollywog

                I’m all for cultural evolution but not to the extent that ones native culture becomes token for grants. I just want us to be honest in our appraisal of what was gained/lost, how/why and who benefitted most. Somewhere between my position and quenchino’s is probably a ‘happy medium’. Maybe thats who ‘whanau ora’ practitioners are.

                By the way ” the end is nigh”…and yeah, have a cracker of a weekend yourself 🙂

            • Puddleglum 1.2.1.1.1.2

              Hi Pollywog – I don’t think all left critics of Whanau Ora, or the Maori Party more generally, are unaware of the points you make. I’m certainly not. If Maori or Pasific people can provide an alternative way of organising this modern society so that it’s more humane then all power to them. But look at it from my perspective – and it’s a long one (I’m well read on this), way back to when my ancestors were just as collective, just as family focused, just as imbued with spiritual connectedness to the world as Maori were 170 years ago or maybe still are. But … something happened.

              My ancestors were colonised centuries before Maori were; they were pushed off their land, progressively denied their remaining customary rights; any attempts by them to gain some control of their own destiny (their ‘tino rangatiratanga’) were met with deception, rejection and violent suppression; they were treated as sub-human, their children were sold, prostituted, huge numbers of them were imprisoned. All of this was done to them in the first act of English colonisation – before it happened to the Scots, before it happened to the Irish, the Native Americans, the Africans (whose slave labour financially founded Britain’s emerging industrial economy).

              My ancestors were the English peasants who then, in time, became the English, urban working class – once living off the land was made impossible and they were herded into horrendous conditions whose only ‘positive’ was that it was better than starving. You see, they had to be colonised first. Their oppression had to provide the base for colonial expansion to Ireland, the Americas, Australia, India and New Zealand. They had to be ‘tamed’, ‘ripped untimely’ from their own culture, dispossessed, brutally oppressed for centuries to allow the sorry farce that is the history of the world over the last few centuries to begin.

              Note that this all began with English people oppressing English people. That might help you to understand why the English, historically, was so aware of class. That might help you to understand why some on the ‘left’ are SO concerned about notions of ‘left’ and ‘right’. When colonialism began is was not one race against another, one culture against another (although the new capitalist culture was definitely contrary to peasant culture). It was the powerful few against the powerless many.

              Also note that in Ireland, India and even here in New Zealand some members of the local elites actually did very well, thank you, from this continuing process of colonisation, just as some of my peasant ancestors grabbed the opportunity (as yeoman farmers) to get a foot on the ground floor of the developing capitalist world.

              So, my fear over Whanau Ora, and the Maori Party, is that history is just going to repeat itself. No new culture, no new way of organising ourselves will come out of it. This is just one of the many ways that real alternatives to the present system (what you, mistakenly, term ‘eurocentric’ when it bears no resemblance to the culture of my ancestors or to that of the mass of Europeans, many of whom retain immense allegiance, against the odds, to a deep sense of solidarity, family and community) get hijacked, defused and rendered neuter. My ancestors tried it all – and failed. Please don’t think there’s something different about Maori or Pasifika culture that would allow it to succeed where my ancestors’ culture failed.

              My sense is that this government is, wittingly or unwittingly, encouraging Maori – especially Maori leaders – to believe that, in fact, it’s all about different cultures. It isn’t. It’s about how the powerful have always treated the powerless – irrespective of common or different culture, common or different race.

              • pollywog

                Nice one Puddleglum.

                My ancestors tried it all and failed. Please don’t think there’s something different about Maori or Pasifika culture that would allow it to succeed where my ancestors’ culture failed.

                Yeah maybe, but given the opportunity to learn that ourselves would be nice. As a parent i would love for my kids to learn from my mistakes and save themselves the hassle, yet i understand the need for them to try, fail, and from the lessons learnt, make them better, stronger and wiser for it.

                In keeping with the powerful over the powerless from within a culture, I suppose this is my definitive take on ‘whanau ora’. What do you think ?

                More to worry about

              • Puddleglum

                I think it’s very insightful.

                If whanau can use this to exert pressure on their own elites (of whatever culture) then that would be ideal. But, I suspect that if that began to happen it would be ‘modified’ or even undermined. After all, from the point of view of those with power, what’s the use of power if you don’t use it to make sure you get what you want?

                I’m not a complete pessimist – I think gains have been made over the last century and a half. It’s just that it’s a hard road to hoe – there’s no bright new dawn of social progress, just ‘business as usual’ (i.e., a hard slog and constant vigilance, taking nothing for granted).

  2. Rob M 2

    Perhaps the original document was in Maori and something has been lost in translation.

  3. PK 3

    ***If the government were serious about helping families in need it’s priority would be getting people back into work and its second and third priorities would better pay and conditions for low income workers.***

    Those are the traditional left wing economic concerns but, as Chris Trotter has pointed out, identity politics has become more prevalent (ironically now under National). This just seems to show that ethno-politics become increasingly important in a diverse society. This isn’t primarily about nuts and bolts outcomes like those you mention, but about ethnic control.

    That’s not to say it won’t work, but I think the main motivation based on ethnocentrism, which is a natural outgrowth of nepotism.

    • Bright Red 3.1

      Well and that’s another problem.

      There’s an ethnonorm-ism inherent in this approach. It assumes (hell it states) that there is a ‘right’ way for a Maori family to live and it wants to impose that ‘right’ way on families.

      • marty mars 3.1.1

        Yes and other whanau from other cultures that want to use whanau ora – remember it is now open to all BR

        • pollywog 3.1.1.1

          Sweet..so are the service providers gonna be non-exclusively Maori also ?

          Ayo aunty Tari…Where do i sign up for a laptop, wireless broadband and branded car. I want a silver one and a matching cell phone with a ‘borg’ like head set ?…and can i get a badge too ? Maybe one of them flip out wallets like the feds have on TV ? Oooh oooh and a stylin leather trenchcoat. Of course it goes without saying i’ll have the meke shades.

          I’ll look mean as rollin up, flippin out the badge and sayin “pollywog..whanau ora division. Come with me if you want to live…”

          Say whut ? Fucken eh i will sort your shit out cuz, just call me vodafone cos i will hook you up. Sheeeeit…i got a direct line to your ancestors owwww !!!

          chur 🙂

  4. ianmac 4

    Bright Red “It assumes (hell it states) that there is a ñ€˜right’ way for a Maori family to live and it wants to impose that ñ€˜right’ way on families.” This could be solved by training in the Catholic way of confession of sin and no birth control. No? How about a Destiny Church for all those who are poor but not quite poverty stricken. No? How about the Act Party so that the poor and disadvantaged could learn to satisfy greed at the neighbour’s expense. No?
    Yes. A very vexed question but maybe the traditional Maori way with extended family and respect for the Elders might work, but only if the “needy” want to buy into it and break the cycle. Who knows what the “right” way is?

  5. I remember reading the large Royal Commission documents that came out about Genetic Engineering and they managed to discuss a bi/multi-cultural approach to value systems while still at the same time delivering hard recommendations about implementation and policy.

    The problem with leaving all the spiritual stuff as nice aspirational goals is that is all to easy to pull the carpet out from under it later on. For it to anything at all to protect and engage with Maori cultural values it absolutely MUST engage with the dirty difficult world of policy.

  6. ghostwhowalksnz 6

    Was it only 5-10 years ago that the The Maori way of knowing was all the rage as a viable alternative to the Scientific method.
    So we know have its cousin the Maori way of delivering social services.
    Whats the bet that Titiwhai Hawawira’s way of delivering mental health services can be seen again. Along with the Donna Huata way of doing reading recovery

  7. Gramsci 7

    What really concerns me about Whanau Ora is that it will further drive down the wages of the care workers in the sector. When patients were de-instutionalised in the eighties and nineties, there was a huge drop in the wages of those formerly working in well-unionised centralised sites. Care workers went from a few centralised agreements with a bureaucracy behind the front-of-line care to support their work.

    Please do not take this post as support of the institutions. There were problems with the institutions, but my point is regarding how the wages and conditions have dropped in this sector and the service levels have declined.

    What occurred was a disolution of these terms and conditions, with a corresponding drop in service. The work became casualised and further de-valued. There was no need for any level of qualification; the money that went to providers had to be soaked up in the first instance by a multitude of supporting bureaucracies before any of it got to the workers. It might be even less if there was a profit to be made by the organisation.

    These problems are still being grappled with by the sector and then along comes Whanau Ora. This will only further fragment and disolve the service levels and wages of those working in the sector. It will put wages back even further and make a unified response to the Government’s continual under-funding of this sector even harder to resisit.

    And that – comrades – is why the National Party supports it.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Celebrating the Entry Into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
    [Opening comments, welcome and thank you to Auckland University etc] It is a great pleasure to be here this afternoon to celebrate such an historic occasion - the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This is a moment many feared would never come, but ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    24 hours ago
  • Supporting disabled people to stay connected
    The Government is providing $3 million in one-off seed funding to help disabled people around New Zealand stay connected and access support in their communities, Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni announced today. The funding will allow disability service providers to develop digital and community-based solutions over the next two ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Voluntary saliva testing offered to quarantine workers from Monday
    Border workers in quarantine facilities will be offered voluntary daily COVID-19 saliva tests in addition to their regular weekly testing, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. This additional option will be rolled out at the Jet Park Quarantine facility in Auckland starting on Monday 25 January, and then to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Next steps in firearms buy-back
    The next steps in the Government’s ambitious firearms reform programme to include a three-month buy-back have been announced by Police Minister Poto Williams today.  “The last buy-back and amnesty was unprecedented for New Zealand and was successful in collecting 60,297 firearms, modifying a further 5,630 firearms, and collecting 299,837 prohibited ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Public Housing Plan announced
    The Government has released its Public Housing Plan 2021-2024 which outlines the intention of where 8,000 additional public and transitional housing places announced in Budget 2020, will go. “The Government is committed to continuing its public house build programme at pace and scale. The extra 8,000 homes – 6000 public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Prime Minister congratulates President Joe Biden on his inauguration
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated President Joe Biden on his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States of America. “I look forward to building a close relationship with President Biden and working with him on issues that matter to both our countries,” Jacinda Ardern said. “New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Jobs for Nature funding will create training and employment opportunities
    A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says. The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers to New Zealand
    To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Better care for babies with tongue-tie
    Babies born with tongue-tie will be assessed and treated consistently under new guidelines released by the Ministry of Health, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. Around 5% to 10% of babies are born with a tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, in New Zealand each year. At least half can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago