Briefing to the Incoming Minister

Section 1 - Overview

Much has been achieved over recent years...

Māori today are contemplating the future from a position of compara-tive strength. There has been a positive shift in the quality and focus of Crown-Māori relationships. Māori culture is thriving, Māori social well-being has improved, and Māori economic participation and the size and diversity of the Māori asset base, are growing. Together, with the growing and relatively youthful Māori population, Māori are well positioned to take up opportunities that will secure a bright and optimistic future.

...But there is more to be done...

...To build on gains in Crown-Māori relationships...

The Treaty of Waitangi underpins Crown-Māori relationships. An accelerated programme of settlements work has generated positive gains for the health of these relationships. Alongside the improvements that Māori are experiencing as citizens, and as participants in the economy, these factors present significant opportunities for both the Crown and Māori to cement and build on these gains.

Property rights with respect to natural resources pose particular challenges for Crown-Māori relationships. While Māori have welcomed the recent structured engagement in policy design, the policy parameters have tended to be confined to resource manage-ment and allocation. Māori continue to express a diverse set of rights and interests in natural resources, ranging from ownership to co-management. A clear and consistent framework for managing these interests, and balancing them with the interests of wider New Zealand, will be of importance to both the Crown and Māori.

Māori people continue to articulate an interest in the place of the Treaty, with an especial focus on engaging in dialogue on any proposals for constitutional change.

...To consolidate Treaty settlements work...

An accelerated programme of work is underway across Government to complete negotiations for the settlement of histori-cal Treaty of Waitangi claims. The approach to settlement negotiations has evolved, with regional approaches and more flexibility with negotiations and settlement instruments featuring over recent months. While there are clear gains arising from this, there are also a number of emerging issues, including:

i Capacity and fiscal pressures – government resources are becoming increasingly stretched, in terms of fiscal pressures arising from recent settlement packages, and operationally in terms of maintaining the current pace of settlements, during both the negotiations and implementation phases. Similarly, claimant capacity is likely to become stretched with the current pace of the settlements work programme;

ii Claimant expectations – the current pace of the sector, and the flexible use of redress instruments, including ‘outside of settle-ment’ mechanisms, has raised claimant expectations regarding the timing and structure of their redress packages;

iii Impact on Te Puni Kōkiri – in addition to its core role in the settlements process, Te Puni Kōkiri has assumed lead responsibility for a number of ‘outside of settlement’ processes. These create significant pressures on the Ministry’s baseline resources.

The Ministry considers that it is timely to confirm the overall settlements framework, and the resourcing implications of the accelerated settlements programme for the fiscal framework for settlements, and the operations of the sector as a whole.

...for Māori To achieve optimal social and economic outcomes...

While Māori have realised gains across many indicators of social and economic wellbeing, achievement levels continue to lag behind those of the wider New Zealand population, a clear signal that Māori social and economic potential has yet to be fully realised.

Te Puni Kōkiri promotes a whānau based approach to social development, in recognition of whānau as the core unit of Māori culture and society, and the change agent through which inter-generational gains can be achieved. Given the youthful profile of the Māori popula-tion, Te Puni Kōkiri also maintains a particular focus on realising rangatahi potential.

The Māori asset base has grown at a rapid rate, from $9 billion in 2001 to $16.5 billion in 2006, but the contribution of that asset base to GDP has not increased in the same propor-tions; and the mainstay of Māori contribution to the economy continues to come from wages and consumption rather than from ownership and entrepreneurship.

And while Māori culture and identity is strong, challenges remain for government to shape its interventions in ways that respond to the inherent strengths within culture, and accom-modate the unique aspects of culture that effect decisions that Māori make that impact on their social and economic wellbeing.

...but raising levels of achievement will be particularly challenging given the global economic conditions...

Although improvements in Māori employment levels, participation in enterprise, and asset growth have featured in recent years, the extent of the future impact of tightening global economic conditions has yet to be fully understood. Māori may be disproportionately vulnerable to economic shocks, particularly given the employment profile, the recent growth in the entrepreneurial sector and the high level of exposure of the Māori commercial asset base to world markets1 along with the forecast falls in export demand and commodity prices. Care will need to be taken to manage the impacts of changes in the economic circumstances of Māori on other aspects of their wellbeing.

...And we need to recognise and respect the diversity of Māori communities.

Māori communities continue to change, with demographic shifts (particularly in terms of the growth of the Māori population as a whole, and the youthful profile of that population), changing family groupings, and migratory patterns, and are set within increas-ing levels of diversity across New Zealand. The diversity between communities, and the growing expectation among Māori that they themselves will be responsible for their own futures, demands flexible government, with responses shaped to the needs and aspirations of individual communities, rather than generic solutions.

We are well placed to support you to meet these challenges...

Te Puni Kōkiri recognises these opportunities, and challenges, and has an overall approach that focuses on building on the aspirations of Māori people, organisations and collectives, and supporting them to realise their own potential.

As an integrated policy Ministry, Te Puni Kōkiri achieves this through the co-ordinated efforts of its policy, relationship management, investment and monitoring functions. The effective discharge of these functions is ensured through its unique ability to engage directly with Māori communities across the country, and anchor its advice and interven-tions in the interests, aspirations and realities of those communities.

A more detailed description of the Māori Affairs infrastructure available to the Minister, includ-ing Te Puni Kōkiri, is provided in Section 2.

Endnote: 1 The Māori commercial asset base is particularly vulnerable, with some 60% exposed to international trade, compared to 31% of the wider economy facing this exposure.