23 Jan 2010

New solutions sought, PM tells Ratana

6:06 am on 23 January 2010

The Prime Minister has emphasised the Government's search for new solutions to social problems in a speech at Ratana Pa, south of Whanganui.

Ratana Church members have been gathering for their annual commemoration of the birthday of the church's founder, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

The first political party leader to speak at the celebrations, John Key told the hui that National was not afraid of tackling new ways to address long-standing problems facing Maori and other New Zealanders.

He pointed to work with Maori Party ministers, taking district courts onto marae and creating the multi-agency Whanau Ora programme of social welfare.

Mr Key emphasised that the Whanau Ora programme was not just for Maori but for all people in need.

He also spoke of progress on Treaty of Waitangi settlements and on replacing the Foreshore and Seabed Act, and undertook to continue talks about Ratana's request to improve state housing at the pa.

Ratana spokesperson Andre Meihana says that that commitment is welcome, and he hopes next year's election will add pressure for action.