Stop the dysfunction
“What are you going to do about your people killing their babies?”
That’s a regular question posed to my co-host John Tamihere and me on our Radio Live talkback show when a Maori baby dies at the hands of its parents.
It’s both a fair and unfair question.
Fair because having been MPs, and now as heads of the Waipareira Trust and the Manukau Urban Maori Authority, we are seen as Maori leaders, and as such obliged to come up with answers for our people when there is a crisis.
But it’s unfair because Pakeha leaders are never held accountable for what happens in their communities.
Was Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast accountable when Graeme Burton murdered an innocent bystander in Wellington?
And are Pakeha community leaders brought to task when a Pakeha baby dies in suspicious circumstances? The answer is no, and it’s a double standard that’s unlikely to change.
We do accept the challenge of coming up with answers relating to Maori abuse and crime.
We offered our thoughts at a conference called by the government last week.
We said there had to be a new approach to welfare and that our system feeds and breeds dysfunction for too many Maori.
The time has come to take a hard line with families misusing benefi for drink, drugs, gambling and crime.
Who will forget Delcelia Witika, who died from abuse while her parents partied? Or the Kahui twins, left to die while their parents ate KFC, or Nia Glassie, abused by a family I think should have got the death sentence.
These Maori families were all beneficiaries. So John and my recommendations were clear. Social welfare does not have all the answers for Maori and appropriate community groups should have a chance to address the problems.
We want resources allocated to us so we can intervene where appropriate. We know who the dysfunctional families are and the state should leave us to manage their lives.
Intervention will lead to prevention and hopefully stop the crisis happening with our people.