Major job losses in store for Government ministry Te Puni Kokiri have been criticised as crippling to Maori development.

Government workers' union the Public Service Association (PSA) claims TPK's chief executive, Leith Comer, told staff that a $5 million shortfall meant 50 jobs would go.

TPK, also known as the Ministry of Maori Development, operates as a stand-alone entity - but reorganisation could change that.

Yesterday, staff in Wellington and regional offices were told how TPK might operate in a "fiscally constrained environment", Mr Comer said.


The ministry was being asked to focus on education, employment and training, housing, the environment and strengthening its Whanau Ora response.

"Staff were advised today that we need to do all of this with fewer resources.

"How we will organise ourselves, and operate, will be the subject of discussions over the next few months. There were no restructuring announcements made today, no redundancies made, and no closures of regional offices."

Mr Comer spoke out after Mana Party leader Hone Harawira claimed major redundancies were under way at TPK.

"These changes will cripple Maori development. A once-great ministry will be just a shell of its former self and other Government departments will just ignore them," Mr Harawira said.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia signalled before the election that TPK was in need of a major shake-up.

Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples is responsible for the ministry. He accused Mr Harawira of grandstanding.

The PSA's national secretary, Brenda Pilott, said 50 jobs could go.


"The Government keeps asking public service departments to do more with less. It simply can't be done any more."