28 May 2015

Maori expertise overlooked says iwi group

7:31 am on 28 May 2015

The Whānau Ora iwi leaders group is accusing government departments of not placing enough value on Māori expertise.

The group is made of six iwi representatives and last week its chair said it was appalled by the Government's exclusion of Māori from an expert panel set up to review Child, Youth and Family.

Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau

Raniera Tau Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

However, Raniera Tau said the exclusion of Māori from contributing their expertise extends beyond the Ministry of Social Development to many other units and their policy-making decisions.

Mr Tau said working partnership that has been established between Government ministers and Māori has not been adopted at other levels.

"It's just that the working of this Government and Māori together hasn't actually sunk down into the government departments themselves," he said.

Mr Tau said the knowledge and skills of tāngata whenua were not being utilised.

"I think it's unconscious discrimination. I wouldn't say that it was deliberate, but it's just that they don't have the conscience to recognise that in certain situations you need certain expertise, and in this case it is Māori expertise at those senior levels that is missing," he said.

"It's across a lot of Government departments, not necessarily all, but we're finding this sort of behaviour is common throughout a lot of the Government organisations, where they forget that they have a Treaty partner."

Spokesperson for Social Development Minister, Anne Tolley, said in a statement that over the last month the minister has had two discussions with the head of the expert panel about adding another member to it.

The spokesperson said although no final decisions had yet been made, Mr Tau was well aware of those discussions.

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