«Te Oranga o te Iwi Maori: A Study of Maori Economic and Social Progress Maori and Welfare Lindsay Mitchell N E W Z E A L A N D B U S I N E S S R O U ...»
W O R K I N G PA P E R 5
Te Oranga o te Iwi Maori:
A Study of Maori Economic and Social Progress
Maori and Welfare
N E W Z E A L A N D B U S I N E S S R O U N D TA B L E
M AY 2 0 0 9
National Library of New Zealand Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
Māori and welfare / Lindsay Mitchell.
(Te oranga o te iwi Māori) Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 978–1–877394–24–9 (pbk.) ISBN 978–1–877394–25–6 (internet)
1. Maori (New Zealand people)—Public welfare
2. Maori (New Zealand people)—Social conditions.
I. Title. II. Series 362.8499442—dc 22 First published in 2009 by New Zealand Business Roundtable PO Box 10–147 The Terrace Wellington New Zealand http://www.nzbr.org.nz ISBN 978–1–877394–24–9 (print) ISBN 978–1–877394–25–6 (online) ISSN 1177–2565 © Text as acknowledged © 2009 edition: New Zealand Business Roundtable Contents About the author 5 Introduction 7 Maori crime 7 Early discrimination and separatism 11 Unemployment 16 Maori and single parenthood 18 The way forward 27 Paternalism 28 Individual responsibility 31 Other benefits 32 Privatisation of services 34 Flying some mana aute (kites) 34 Partial privatisation 34 Loans instead of benefits 35 Opting-out 35 Summary 36 But what about the recession? 36 Conclusion 37
4 MAORI AND WELFAREList of figures and tables Figures 1: Unemployment rate by ethnic group 1986–2007 16 2: Teenage births and murder rates in the United States 21 3: Distributions of Maori and families receiving the DPB 25 Tables 1: Maori receiving benefits – March 2008 23 About the author Lindsay Mitchell has been researching and commenting on welfare since 2001. Many of her articles have been published in a variety of media and she has appeared on radio, television and before select committees discussing issues relating to welfare. Lindsay is also an artist who is best known for her Maori portraiture and she works as a community volunteer with disadvantaged families.
Introduction Writing in the Dominion Post in 2006, New Zealand Business Roundtable chairman Rob McLeod (Ngati Porou) reminded us that when the general unemployment rate had been over 8 percent there was widespread anxiety, yet Maori unemployment was still that high and was attracting little comment.1 At that time, 88,500 or 29 percent of working-age Maori (18–64 years) were receiving a benefit.2 More positively, 71 percent of Maori were not receiving a benefit.
Unfortunately, however, Maori statistics paint a regrettable picture, not only because of current over-representation in most negative social indicators, but also because the disproportion was less pronounced in the past. Maori were not always over-represented in dole queues, prisons, and the courts, in high rates of gambling and alcohol addiction, youth suicide, substance abuse and smoking.
That may, in part, be an effect of Pakeha society ignoring Maori. For instance, Maori ex-nuptial births were not documented until the 1960s. However, at some point, Maori were not as widely afflicted by the social problems many experience today, despite their population generally becoming more prosperous, better educated and living longer. It appears the socio-economic and skills gap within Maoridom is greater than that between Maori and non-Maori.
While acknowledging the existence of confounding factors, such as low educational achievement and childhood deprivation, this paper considers what role welfare reliance has played in both creating and perpetuating this gap and why the associated social dysfunction and crime are more prevalent among Maori.
It makes alternative suggestions for preserving a safety net without generating destructive dependence.
Maori crime One of the few areas for which long-term Maori statistics were kept is crime. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Maori (defined as people having half or more Maori ancestry) made up 5 percent of the population. In 1898, 22,752 charges were heard before magistrates and only 2.3 percent were against people of the “aboriginal native race”.3 Additionally, the number for Maori was down on the previous year, unlike charges for non-Maori. Persons committed for trial in the Supreme or District courts numbered 712, and 10 percent were Maori. Of the 1 The Household Labour Force Survey unemployment figures for Maori at March and June 2008 were respectively 8.6 and 7.1 percent.
2 Ministry of Social Development, Benefit factsheet, March 2006/ Census 2006.
3 New Zealand Official Yearbook 1900, p 245.
admissions to prison in the same year, Maori numbered only 134 of 1,724, or
7.7 percent. That year, more women than Maori were admitted to prison.4 During the next four decades, this pattern persisted. The percentage of Magistrates’ Court (less serious) convictions for Maori was commensurate with their share of the population, whereas convictions obtained in the Supreme Court were above what might have been expected.
By 1957, the Maori share of offences tried in the Supreme Court was 18 percent, but in just five years it climbed to 23 percent.5 In 1959, Maori made up 25 percent of the boys admitted to the correctional Owairaka Boys’ Home in Auckland. By 1969, the proportion had risen to 70 percent, and by 1978 it was 80 percent.6 By 1961, the Maori arrest rate for 15 year-olds and older was almost 5 times the nonMaori rate.7 Young Maori migrating from rural to urban settings were no longer under the control of their elders. Young urban Maori increasingly joined emerging groups such as the Mongrel Mob and Black Power.8 James Belich plausibly speculates that the ‘desocialisation’ of Pakeha men, a crime-inducing process that occurred in the nineteenth century during male migration from their homelands (and families) to New Zealand, was a similar process to the ‘detribalisation’ that happened to Maori in the latter part of the
twentieth century, and similarly caused high crime rates. Belich argued that:
People avoid crime, not primarily because it is illegal, but because of the disapproval of those that matter to them – in the traditional, rural Maori case, the kin group.9 Detribalisation and relative confinement of large families within small urban houses delivered ‘street culture’ and youth gangs. The economy that supported the detribalisation process was a mix of low-wage employment and increasingly accessible welfare benefits.
According to historian Bronwyn Dalley, in 1986 the Department of Social Welfare estimated that one in eight young males appeared in court before their seventeenth birthday; for Maori, the ratio was almost one in three.10 A 1985 ministerial advisory committee report on institutional racism (reported by the 1988 Royal Commission on Social Policy) showed that 63 percent of children in 4 New Zealand Official Yearbook 1900, p 250, p 251.
5 New Zealand Official Yearbook 1963, p 266.
6 Royal Commission on Social Policy, The April Report, Vol 1, Wellington, 1988, p 162.
7 New Zealand Official Yearbook 1963, p 70, 265.
8 New Zealand Official Yearbook 1995, Maori society 1935–72, p 39.
9 James Belich, Paradise Reforged: A History of the New Zealanders from the 1800s to the Year 2000, Allen Lane: Penguin Press, Auckland, 2001, p 482.
10 Bronwyn Dalley, Family Matters: Child Welfare in Twentieth-century New Zealand, Auckland University Press in association with the Department of Internal Affairs, Auckland, 1998, p 277.
MAORI AND WELFARESocial Welfare residential homes for young offenders in the Auckland area were Maori, and the number was rising.
Juvenile offending is higher among Maori than non-Maori teenagers, and is particularly high among Maori boys. Almost half (46.5 percent) of all offenders under 15 years in 1984 were Maori boys. Together, Maori boys and girls accounted for 60 percent of the Children and Young Persons’ Court appearances that year.11
The authors laid some of the blame on:
… the breakdown of traditional values and sanctions, due to urbanisation and subsequent dislocation.12 In the early 1990s, young Maori made up nearly all court cases in South Auckland, Rotorua, the East Coast and Northland.13 Maori14 comprise about 14 percent of the general population (but 20 percent of the population aged under 30). However, by 2004, of all convicted cases where ethnicity of the offender was recorded, 45 percent were New Zealand European, 43 percent were Maori and 9 percent were Pacific peoples.15 For violent offending, the percentages were 38, 47 and 13 respectively. The Maori youth apprehension rate is three times higher than that for New Zealand Europeans.16 Naturally, there are arguments about police bias and Maori faring less well in the judicial process17 contributing to these statistics. I do not reject these. Neither do I imagine that correcting these aspects would make a significant difference. As James Belich has pointed out, while there were virtually no Maori police in the 1950s, there were many in the 1990s.18 Today one in ten sworn staff is Maori.19 As late as 1936, only 8,000 or 10 percent of Maori lived in New Zealand towns and cities.20 A dramatic shift was about to occur. By 1971, the proportion had jumped to 70 percent.21 During the 1950s and 1960s, it was common for social problems affecting Maori to be blamed on urbanisation and adjustment to living in nuclear families. Historian Bronwyn Dalley has shown, however, that the 11 Royal Commission on Social Policy, The April Report, Volume 1, p 162.
12 Royal Commission on Social Policy, The April Report, Volume 1, p 161.
13 Bronwyn Dalley, Family Matters, p 277.
14 The definition of Maori had now been redefined more than once to accommodate intermixing.
15 Corrections Department, Statistical Report, Wellington, 2004, p 51.
16 Corrections Department, Statistical Report, p 163.
17 Howard League for Penal Reform, The Imprisonment of Maori, Fact sheet, Canterbury, 1999.
18 James Belich, Paradise Reforged: A History of the New Zealanders from the 1800s to the Year 2000, p 482.
19 New Zealand Police Annual Report, p 99.
20 New Zealand Official Yearbook 1973, Maori population, p 67.
21 New Zealand Official Yearbook 1995, Maori society, p 39.
10 MAORI AND WELFARE increase in contact between Maori and the courts predated the drift of young Maori to the cities.
With few exceptions, most reports of Maori juvenile delinquency before the mid-40s came from the rural districts of Northland, the East Coast and the central North Island, all areas in which child welfare work was a new feature of government policy, and where Maori delinquency was ‘discovered’ as Maori health and housing became subject to closer inspection.22 As suggested earlier, it may be that the problems were nothing new, only the attention they were receiving was. Until 1945, discretionary welfare services for families had been almost exclusively offered to Pakeha.23
As historian Michael King points out:
For a long time the official attitude to problems of Maori health and welfare was to ignore them. There were, in effect, two New Zealands: Pakeha New Zealand, served and serviced by comprehensive systems of national and local government administration; and Maori New Zealand, largely ignored by both except when those systems wanted to appropriate resources such as land, income and manpower.24 Until the 1950s most Maori lived rurally and communally, with the whanau (comprising more than two generations, two nuclear families and usually more than one household) forming the basis for the larger hapu (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribe). Until 1955, Maori adoptions, whangai, were dealt with in the Maori Land Court.25 Child welfare was largely left in the domain of Maori child welfare officers and was thought to be best dealt with through whanau. Children belonged to the 22 Bronwyn Dalley, Family Matters, p 119, p 120.
23 Bronwyn Labrum, Negotiating an increasing range of functions, in Past Judgement: Social Policy in New Zealand History, eds Bronwyn Dalley and Margaret Tennant, Otago University Press, Dunedin, 2004, p 162.
24 Michael King, Nga Iwi o te Motu: One Thousand Years of Maori History, Reed, Auckland, 1997, p 50.
25 Bronwyn Dalley, Family Matters, p 229.
MAORI AND WELFAREwhanau, not as possessions but members. Whanau shared in the raising of children, who were not thought of as the exclusive possession of their parents.26 Early discrimination and separatism During the nineteenth century, Maori were, in the main, excluded from charitable aid provided by local government because they did not pay rates.27 One occasionally comes across references to Maori recipients in charity records, their rarity thought worthy of comment.28 The Native Department (now Te Puni Kokiri) was held to be responsible for Maori welfare, and funding streams – local and central government – were separate.
According to official sources, Maori had been reduced to only 7 percent of the population by the 1890s. The veracity of this number has been questioned in respect of the qualifying criteria and method of counting, but there can be no doubt that Maori numbers were heavily affected by warring, epidemics and intermarriage, which meant that more and more people no longer qualified to be categorised as Maori. Most Maori lived in poor conditions; many stayed in unsanitary, makeshift camps, relying increasingly on public works and seasonal farm work, growing barely enough food for their own needs.29 Life expectancy was around 25 years in 1890 but rose to 35 by 1905.30 While participating in the Pakeha economy, Maori remained a distinct group as expressed by whanau life, language and culture. Maori children made up only a “tiny minority” of those in orphanages or industrial schools during the early 1900s.31 In 1898, the Crown was most reluctant to provide the Old Age Pension to Maori, but given their comparatively short life expectancy, the expectation of few payouts was a mitigating factor in their inclusion. The reluctance came from a belief that financial support was unwarranted because Maori lived communally or ‘communistically’, a word employed by nineteenth-century writers.