Feb 27, 2012

Maori cuts at MFAT

I find it difficult to get worked up about MFAT cutting their Maori Policy Unit. The obvious question is: why does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, key word foreign affairs and trade, need a Maori policy group. I can understand why, say, Tourism NZ would need a Maori policy team. Maori culture is a unique selling point. Having said that, I suppose I’ve just highlighted why MFAT needs a Maori policy unit. In terms of trade, Maori culture is a unique selling point. The Maori Policy Unit, I imagine, advocates the Maori economy overseas and helps overseas governments etc understand the place of Maori in New Zealand and so on. Without a Maori Policy Unit, there’s a hole. Most Pakeha, and by extension diplomats, have no, not even the slightest, grasp on Maori culture, the Maori economy, Maori exporters, the place of Maori in New Zealand and the like.

I guess it’s worrying. When MFAT does need Maori experts they can’t farm it out to Te Puni Kokiri. That Ministry is going to be a shell of its former self and, I think it is fair to assume, will only have the capacity to perform internal tasks. MFAT is looking to hire a Kaumatua. However, a Kaumatua will only consult on cultural aspects, I doubt the Kaumatua will be qualified to work on broader Maori issues.

All this, the Maori cuts at MFAT and the cuts at TPK, amount to a sustained attack on Maori in government. What’s next? Cuts to Te Taura Whiri? Smashing the Maori Policy Units in other Ministries? A funding freeze at Maori TV?

It’s a shame that the Maori Party and the Mana Party are nowhere on this issue. Labour, the Greens and NZ First are all over it, but taking a broader approach. They know that the majority of NZders support scrapping anything with the word Maori in front of it so they’ll tread carefully. With that in mind, it’s up to the Maori Party and Mana to oppose this.


  1. Maori policy advice or more importantly the failure to follow it has probably given us all the trade agreements such as GATT TRIPS that have allowed the usurping of Maori cultural and intellectual property by foreigners, multi-
    national businesses and non-Maori. It has also promoted globalisation and its hidden aim of deculturating all of us to further economic goals that will see us with one international language (english), and one culture (western/north american) and one economic system (free market capitalism). We should be insisting that wai 262 concerns are heard at MFAT.

  2. The public service has grown to be a fat old donkey and in its current state it is a disheartening waste of money.
    During my time in the public service I saw managers who reported to managers who reported to managers, who gained their positions as managers because they knew the manager who was managing them. I saw employees in positions of responsibility who had simply been put in those positions because they had been there the longest. In my particular role there were times where the work was consistent and overwhelming, but often there was absolutely nothing. And I couldn't justify that lack of efficiency to myself earning the money that I was earning at that time.
    So there is a lot of 'fat' in the public service.
    I don't think there's any maori-bashing going on here, we just happen to be witnessing cuts across the board and 'maori' units are going to be affected as well regardless. Obviously the Labour Party will be looking for all sorts of angles on this. Labour's traditional support base aka 'the unions' are feeling the squeeze as much as anyone during this global financial meltdown and coupled with the increasing awareness of the unskilled labour force thanks to the internet, their power is diminishing. So why not sure up support in their other support base aka the public service, and go in to bat for their voters there.



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