Dispute over Maori social services threatens to spread

By Yvonne Tahana

Waipareira Trust's chief executive John Tamihere. Photo / Natalie Slade
Waipareira Trust's chief executive John Tamihere. Photo / Natalie Slade

A Government contracting dispute with a single urban authority could spread to all Maori social service providers through an action in the Waitangi Tribunal led by the Waipareira Trust.

The trust's chief executive, John Tamihere, has called a meeting tomorrow with leaders from iwi and Maori community groups unhappy with contracting arrangements that affect government providers of services such as the $31 million Whanau Ora programme.

Mr Tamihere says Maori providers get "second class" treatment compared with non-Maori contractors, which he says get better terms and conditions.

The dispute comes during a High Court argument between Waipareira and the Crown.

The trust claims the loss of its $1.4 million Family Start contract was in breach of an agreement to rebuild the service after poor reviews.

Indications are that the hui, at Hoani Waititi, will involve providers from Ngapuhi, Tainui, Ngati Porou, Te Whanau a Apanui and Ngati Kahungunu, which represent a a large percentage of the Maori population.

Mr Tamihere said irritation at conditions had been building, and the court case had sparked the call for action.

He said a pattern of yearly contracts and terms which meant staff such as nurses received salaries 20 per cent lower than their public counterparts contributed to the anger felt by providers.

"It's a known and overt second class treatment. It's got nothing to do with Family Start now the issue is equality of funding with other providers, that's what it's starting to boil down to."

He said the Crown had a Treaty obligation to treat Maori providers preferentially.

- NZ Herald

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