Otago Daily Times

Davis’ chance to put more Maori hands on levers of power

- AU­DREY YOUNG Au­drey Young is po­lit­i­cal editor of UK News · Politics · Jacinda Ardern · Arbeidersparty · Helen Clark · New Zealand · Kelvin Davis · Nanaia Mahuta · Hekia Parata · Bill English

NOT far into the term of the last Gov­ern­ment, one of Jacinda Ardern’s press sec­re­taries mis­tak­enly left a wad of pa­per in the Her­ald’s press gallery of­fice.

It was talk­ing points for Kelvin Davis for a round of me­dia ap­pear­ances the next morn­ing that Ms Ardern would nor­mally have done but couldn’t. She had del­e­gated it to him as Labour deputy.

It cov­ered sug­gested re­sponses on a range of sub­jects the PM’s of­fice thought could be asked on many top­ics. That is not usual. But it was a very de­tailed brief­ing and it did not help par­tic­u­larly.

He wasn’t good even with the prepa­ra­tion, and he would be the first to ad­mit it.

In the three years he has been a min­is­ter, he has not im­proved on that score or in the House where there is sim­i­lar pres­sure and scru­tiny.

Now he has a de­ci­sion to make, whether to be­come Deputy Prime Min­is­ter as one might tra­di­tion­ally ex­pect the deputy leader of a ma­jor­ity party to do.

He has been say­ing this week that the deputy PM’s job is the de­ci­sion of the Prime Min­is­ter, but in re­al­ity it is Mr Davis’ de­ci­sion.

His col­leagues in Labour’s Maori cau­cus say they will sup­port what­ever de­ci­sion he makes.

In re­al­ity, he is us­ing what lever­age he now has for a job he doesn’t par­tic­u­larly want in or­der to get an agree­ment for more Maori min­is­ters, at least eight, in ar­eas of rel­e­vance that would make the big­gest dif­fer­ence for Maori lives.

The aim is to give Maori min­is­ters more con­trol over ar­eas through which to tackle per­sis­tent so­cial prob­lems and to bring more co­he­sion to Maori eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

So Mr Davis could, for ex­am­ple, add Whanau Ora and Oranga Ta­mariki to his Cor­rec­tions port­fo­lio, which could help keep Maori out of prison or help to re­ha­bil­i­tate them.

Other ar­eas of interest for Maori min­is­ters, be it the full port­fo­lio or an as­so­ciate min­is­te­rial del­e­ga­tion in­clude jus­tice, health, ed­u­ca­tion, hous­ing, re­gional eco­nomic devel­op­ment, fish­eries, as well as em­ploy­ment and Maori devel­op­ment.

Peeni Henare and Wil­lie Jack­son, al­ready min­is­ters out­side cab­i­net, and as close con­fi­dants of Jacinda Ardern, are al­most cer­tain to be pro­moted to join Davis and Nanaia Mahuta in the new Labour Cab­i­net.

As­sum­ing a min­istry of about 24 MPs, eight Maori min­is­ters would be a third of all min­is­ters but in other ap­point­ments, Mr Davis also wants pref­er­ence given to Maori elec­torate MPs.

On pro­vi­sional re­sults, the Maori cau­cus of 15 MPs is 23.4% of the to­tal Labour cau­cus, a large power bloc within the party and Mr Davis is likely to re­main the deputy Labour Party leader.

Var­i­ous in­stances of im­pe­tus have been given to ad­dress­ing Maori so­cial and eco­nomic de­pri­va­tion over the years. The Bol­ger gov­ern­ment be­gan the Treaty set­tle­ment process.

Clos­ing the Gaps, which was orig­i­nally a Te Puni Kokiri re­port on dis­par­i­ties, was adopted as the ti­tle of a flag­ship set of poli­cies by the He­len Clark gov­ern­ment in its first year in of­fice.

It had the heft of Ms Clark her­self and her depart­ment put­ting pres­sure on se­nior pub­lic ser­vants to de­liver re­sults but re­treated from sight when it started be­ing seen as sep­a­ratist.

Na­tional’s Hekia Parata set tar­gets in ed­u­ca­tional achieve­ment, Bill English de­vel­oped a so­cial in­vest­ment ap­proach to iden­tify need for tar­geted spend­ing and funded the Maori

Party’s Whanau Ora ini­tia­tive.

The Kelvin Davis bid to get more Maori min­is­ters into rel­e­vant port­fo­lios is clearly the start of a new fo­cus on bet­ter re­sults for Maori.

The New Zealand Her­ald.

 ?? PHOTO: OTAGO DAILY TIMES FILES ??
PHOTO: OTAGO DAILY TIMES FILES
 ?? PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES ?? Op­por­tu­nity . . . Kelvin Davis wants bet­ter out­comes for Maori.
PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES Op­por­tu­nity . . . Kelvin Davis wants bet­ter out­comes for Maori.

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