Green Party Māori focused matters
This election the Green Party is the only ‘mainstream’ political party to produce clear Māori specific policy. It is noteworthy that both National and Labour have, since the last election, jettisoned specific Māori-related policy documentation. We consider the size of the Māori voting electorate (15%), and the significance of issues (constitutional reform, treaty settlements, etc), to be sufficient to warrant policy views from all three of these larger political parties.
The Green Party has identified twelve key principles which lead to five ‘policy points’. These policy areas are noted in the table below, along with salient aspects of the proposals.
|Green Party – Māori Policy||Salient aspects of the proposed policy|
|Respecting Rangatiratanga||Legislative recognition of the Māori language version of the Treaty of Waitangi; entrenchment of Māori seats in parliament; new processes for Māori engagement in local government|
|Affirming and supporting Kaitiakitanga||Rejecting the use of conservation land for Treaty settlements; processes for shared guardianship (with iwi) of natural heritage|
|Ensuring Access to Economic Prosperity||Focus on increasing Māori employment levels via ‘sustainable’ employment; protection of Māori cultural intellectual property|
|Supporting Whaungatanga||Māori language to be taught more in schools and within the wider community, whānau interactions with schools to be improved, Māori (restorative) justice initiatives to be advanced, recognition of the leadership role of Māori wahine|
|Health as Taonga||‘build capacity of Māori to manage their own health’; support rongoa Māori practitioners; greater funding for Māori health initiatives|
Overall the emphasis within the Green Party documentation is for greater Government resources to be spent on Māori areas of interest (for example Māori language, rongoa, etc);, and for increased Māori autonomy and representation (e.g. local government representation, restorative justice, etc). We note most of these ideas have the potential to improve the wellbeing of Māori. However we also note the documentation does not provide any actual quantitative measures for these ideas (e.g. how much more Te Reo in schools), and most importantly, it does not provide an estimate of resource to be set aside to achieve these outcomes. In our assessment, political parties that are serious about their policies provide ‘projected’ costings, and seek to demonstrate how they will reallocate resources or increase revenue to accommodate their proposed initiatives. Because the Green Party does not do this with its specific Māori-focused policy the actual statements read closer to ‘wish list’ ideas rather than an actual policy programme.
We also note that the Green Party’s strong environmental focus permeates throughout its Māori-policy, and this has the effect of portraying Māori interests in a particular light – typically as ‘kaitiaki’ (guardians/carers) only on resource matters. This is narrow, and ignores the diversity of Māori interests, including Māori industry developments and agricultural activities (refer to the Ngāi Tahu farming article below as an example). This limitation extends to Treaty matters, with the Green Party indicating that they see Crown Conservation land as sacrosanct, and unavailable for settlement redress (regardless of how it was sourced); and that iwi and hapū have rights under the Treaty of Waitangi to manage their resources “within the constraints of sustainability”. While this might be a good idea, we are fairly certain this concept is not contained within either linguistic version of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Green Party – economic and social proposals of interest
The Green Party’s key social policy proposal is to reduce child poverty, which is estimated at 235,000 children. You will be aware from the pānui of 16 September, that financial hardship is disproportionally affecting significant numbers of Māori children (potentially circa 90,000). Accordingly the Green Party social policy framework is focused on an issue of direct interest to Māori.
Proposals for reducing financial hardship for families include: (i) extending Working for Families tax credits to beneficiary families, (ii) increasing training opportunities for sole parents, (iii) raising the minimum wage, and (iv) creating health standards for rental properties. To pay for this social programme, the Green Party proposes the creation of 100,000 new jobs within the renewable energy sector (with tax takes from these jobs creating Government revenue). For example, the Party believes 20,000 new jobs can be created by extending the home insulation programme, and rebuilding in Christchurch, and a further 20,000 can be created in bio-fuel creation. Consistent with other political parties, there is insufficient data to review this in full, but on the surface, these jobs creation numbers appear exceedingly optimistic.
From week ending 11 November 2011