Maori ‘Models’ For Progress

Aboriginal Futures, Commentary, Frontier Centre, Media Appearances

A paper from liberal think-tank the Frontier Centre for Public Policy said Canada’s native people suffered from a range of problems, including high rates of alcoholism, domestic abuse and suicide.

“Canada should look to New Zealand as a model for improving the lives of its indigenous populations by promoting self-reliance and increasing access to education,” author Joseph Quesnel said. There were still gaps between Maori and non-Maori in socio-economic indicators such as health, but they were closing, he said.

“New Zealand wanted to halt the slide and reorient Maori towards reduced state dependency. Maori were given greater independence, tribal redevelopment and greater service delivery.

“In other words, a greater emphasis on self-reliance.”

But Maori say the situation is not as rosy as it may seem.

Senior Anglican minister Hone Kaa said Maori were “further down the road” of social progress than in Canada but the job was not finished.

“I think that maybe, yes, we can be held up as a role model compared to Canada, but I don’t think we can be held up as an absolute role model.”

Dr. Kaa said Maori faced big problems in areas such as health, child abuse, low incomes and education.

According to the Health Ministry, Maori have, on average, the poorest health of any New Zealand ethnic group.

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell said that, despite some progress, there was a long way to go for Maori.

He said that, for most iwi, Treaty of Waitangi settlements were not the panacea they had hoped for. “It has taken years for benefits to trickle down through settlement bureaucracies.”

Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia welcomed the report and said Maori were moving ahead.

“Being internationally recognised for our hard work in uplifting Maori participation rates in education and employment is tremendous.”