30 Mar 2015

Govt accused of denying Maori of rights

6:58 am on 30 March 2015

The former MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira, is accusing the Government here of similar tactics to the Australian Government, which is proposing to shut down remote Aboriginal communities.

Hone Harawira.

Hone Harawira. Photo: RNZ

The Prime Minister across the Tasman, Tony Abbott, has said Australia cannot afford to continue funding indigenous communities, which are too far from services such as schools and hospitals.

Some tangata whenua, both in Aotearoa and Australia, were voicing their disapproval of the idea.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, who lost his Te Tai Tokerau seat in the last general election, said the Australian Government's proposal was 'blatant racism', which denied indigenous people there the right to live on their customary land.

He said New Zealanders should be making a strong statement about the fact this country's government operated a similar denial of service to remote communities by cutting off the unemployment benefit to Maori who wanted to return home.

He said they were unable to go back to certain communities without having their benefit removed.

Mr Harawira said that was a different way of handling it, but had exactly the same effect of denying Maori the right to live where they lived in their own country.

In response, the Ministry of Social Development said Work and Income did not stop people on the benefit from moving across the country.

However, deputy chief executive Carl Crafar said anyone looking for work who was thinking about moving needed to show Work and Income they could get a job if required.

He said its key role was to support people into work.

Mr Crafar said it was about putting people in the best position to find work, and job-seekers were obliged to be actively looking for work.

He said if they were not meeting their work obligations, they would be deemed to have failed to find a job.

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