Stop the dys­func­tion

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

“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.

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