Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Maori seats are positive for the Right

If talk of getting rid of the Maori seats had eventuated into action in removing these seats, Labour may have won the election and there would have been no "mana -enhancing" for Maori at all.

Thanks to the Maori Party siding with National, which unofficially for many months before the election, they were anyway, Maori have gained political mana. Labour would never have given Maori any mana, because Labour sidelines their support and confidence and supply partners.

So the Herald's heading Big steps from the sideline to the frontline is apt.
Tariana Turia has taken on responsibility for Maori and Pacific employment as well as the Government's overall strategy on family violence.

In health, her focus includes provider development. But wider responsibilities include sexual health, diabetes, tobacco, communicable diseases and breast and cervical screening.

Pita Sharples is expected to find ways to address Maori over-representation in crime, as well as more effective rehabilitation of Maori offenders. In an area dear to his heart, he gets responsibilities for Maori education such as kohanga reo and kura kaupapa.

In some ways these areas are more significant than their main ministerial portfolios of Maori Affairs for Pita Sharples and the Community and Voluntary sector for Tariana Turia.

This is a big deal. But I didn't notice anyone from Labour congratulating the two leaders on this deal. Nor have any of the blogs on the left of the political spectrum commented on this yet. This arrangement means that Turia and Sharples can address "whanau ora" [family wellbeing] social policy areas, such as health and education. It also means that it can concentrate on such things that really matter in the back pocket for Maori. Sure the Foreshore and Seabed is important, but isn't Maori development and good health, education and employment more important in terms of whanau ora?

This arrangement also means Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples need to deliver, or they will remembered for not doing so. That's the challenge. Yet they are only Associate Ministers in these portfolios. National need to ensure that they do deliver as responsibility that does not lead to results is pointless.

Read the whole column.

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