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«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 ...»

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In the 1970s, around 50 percent of all sole parents worked, yet by the 1980s, nearer to 20 percent had jobs.61 Domestic tension and conflict can develop in homes where men are unemployed, and subsequent break-ups added to a growing DPB caseload, compounding the effect of growing ex-nuptial births. By 1999, 33 percent 54 New Zealand Official Yearbook 1996, p 139.

55 The Domestic Purposes Emergency Benefit was introduced by the National government and became available in 1968.

56 Evening Post, Jobless Maoris not taking up Hutt work help, 11 January 1983, p 4.

57 Evening Post, Proud men seek work trust, 16 March 1983, p 1.

58 New Zealand Official Yearbook 1996, Employment, p 296.

59 New Zealand Official Yearbook 1994, Unemployed persons by ethnicity, 1993, p 293.

60 Ministry of Social Development, Unemployment Benefit, Benefit factsheets, Wellington, March 2008.

61 Margaret McClure, A Civilised Community, p 228.

18 MAORI AND WELFARE of those on the DPB were Maori, and by 2007, 41 percent were. Maori men were also more likely to rely on a single-parent benefit than New Zealand European men. In 2005, half of all male single parents on welfare were Maori.62 Maori and single parenthood In 1972, Mrs Eleanor Hetet was crowned Mrs Wellington, a rather quaint concept long since abandoned. Mrs Hetet was proud of her Maori blood and believed she was what she was because she had received both Maori and English cultures from her parents. She believed family life, which she saw as disappearing rapidly, to be most important.63 Mrs Hetet was right. Family life was disappearing fast, especially for Maori.

Although some would argue that marriage is a European construct, today the Maori marriage rate is much lower than that of the general population (29 percent compared with 49 percent of over-15 year olds),64 while the Maori cohabitation rate is only slightly higher than the general population’s (31 percent compared with 27 percent.)

According to Ministry of Social Development research:

Māori women had a greater likelihood of separation by any given duration of marriage than non-Māori women. For instance, 25 percent of Māori women had separated within 10 years of marriage, compared with 19 percent of non-Māori women.65 Traditionally in Maori culture, it was not uncommon for children to be raised by grandparents or an extended family. According to Margaret McClure, the European taboo against illegitimacy did not exist, and some single Pacific females needed to prove their fertility in order to find a husband.66 However, with migration to the cities and fewer family members living nearby, the unmarried mother supporting her own children became increasingly common.

Advocating for a statutory domestic purposes benefit, submitters to the 1972 Royal Commission of Inquiry on Social Security highlighted their plight and argued for benefits that reflected traditional cultural attitudes to sex and marriage.

62 Official Information Act request, 13 May 2005.

63 Evening Post, ‘Mrs Wellington’ Proud to be the product of two cultures, 28 August 1972, p 12.

64 Statistics New Zealand, Census 2006.

65 Raising Children in New Zealand: Patterns of Family Formation and Change in New Zealand, www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/research/patternsfamily-formation, p 30 (last accessed April 2009).

66 Margaret McClure, A Civilised Community, p 170.


Maori ex-nuptial birth rates were and are far higher than those of Pakeha. In 2004, 76 percent of all Maori births were ex-nuptial.67 The practice of ‘customary marriage’ is part of the reason given for the past high ex-nuptial birth rate, but it is unclear whether customary marriages are longstanding or provide for financial independence from the state.

In the United States, the high and growing rate of unmarried births among Hispanics is a subject of alarm. Nuclear families are described as being in a state of “meltdown”.68 Yet, the rate of unmarried births to either American blacks or Hispanics still trails that of Maori.

There is a strong link between unmarried births and high rates of child abuse.

During the 1960s, the Child Welfare Division’s research unit investigated the connection between single motherhood, abuse and neglect. A 1967 survey found established cases of child abuse tended to be ex-nuptial births and to occur in larger families and in homes in which one or both birth parents were absent.69 The reported rate of abuse for Maori children was six times that for Pakeha.70 The survey was based on the 255 established cases of abuse (but not neglect) that year.

More recently, Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) data showed that Maori accounted for 46 percent (4,672 cases) of child abuse, compared with 27.8 percent (2,828 cases) from Pakeha families.71 There is a legitimate question about whether Maori are unfairly over-notified. Hospital admissions, however, show that between 50 and 60 Maori infants per 100,000 suffer head injuries as a result of child abuse.72 The national rate is 22 per 100,000. Of children in the care of CYFS in 2007, 49 percent were Maori compared with 40 percent who were Pakeha.73 Writing in the New Zealand Listener in 2001, Pamela Stirling said Maori children were five times as likely as other children to be abused or, at least, to have abuse detected. In response, the head of the Women’s Refuge Collective, Merepeka

Raukawa-Tait asked:

Where are the good men in this country saying enough is enough? And why don’t we say to young Maori girls, “Listen, don’t go with any drongo. Don’t get into a relationship with anyone who hasn’t got a job or isn’t interested in getting out of bed in the morning”.74 67 New Zealand Official Yearbook 2006, p 92.

68 Investors Business Daily, The ‘M’ word, 12 August 2006, www.investors.com/NewsAnd Analysis/Article.aspx?id=329583&Ntt=the+%92m%92+word (last accessed April 2009).

69 Bronwyn Dalley, Deep and dark secrets, p 182.

70 Bronwyn Dalley, Family Matters, p 252.

71 Herald on Sunday, CYF seized Nia’s sibling after injuries, 5 August 2007, www.nzherald.

co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10455891&ref=rss (last accessed April 2009).

72 Stephen Cook, Doctor decries staggering level of child abuse, Herald on Sunday, 15 July 2007, p 26.

73 Correspondence from the Ministry of Social Development to the author, 28 June 2007.

74 Pamela Stirling, In harm’s way, New Zealand Listener, 17 March 2001, p 21.

20 MAORI AND WELFARE At about the same time, a former social worker turned head of Maori strategy for CYFS, Peter Douglas, rattled a few cages in calling for a review of the DPB.

I think we should be thinking about the damage that those benefits do to some communities. Because it takes away the need for ambition, it takes away a sense of responsibility and sets young people on a trail of entitlement.75 I know for a fact that in this area where there’s high unemployment, young Maori girls are told to get pregnant when they leave school so that there’s money coming into the home. There is no shame in their culture to be an unmarried mother. I feel so sad to see these young 16/17 year olds up the street pushing pushchairs, that that is their future. A lot of them have been at school with our own children so I know their ages.

PTA member, Far North (Personal correspondence to author, 2001) Peter Douglas went on to say that the DPB gave a young woman, who may not like life at home, what appeared to be independence – not necessarily by making a choice to become pregnant but certainly by not making a decision to prevent it.

Young people knew more about safe sex than ever before but were still choosing not to protect themselves.76 From 2000 to 2002, the Maori teenage birth rate was 70 per 1,000 15–19 year olds, which was more than three times higher than that for New Zealand Europeans.

The difference in young adolescent birth rates is even more pronounced:

The rate of childbearing among young Maori under 18 is significantly higher than the non-Maori rate. In 2000, there were 22.7 births per 1,000 to Maori females compared to 4.9 for non-Maori. Of the 1,175 under-18 births in 2000, over half (670) were to Maori.77 It is now well established that teenage birth, particularly among those females aged under 18 years, presents a range of concerns.

Childbearing among young adolescents has been associated with a number of negative outcomes for both mother and child including low child birth weight, increased risk of infant mortality, reduced maternal educational attainment, reduced participation in paid work, and increased risk of longterm reliance on income support.78 75 Val Aldridge, It’s time to axe the DPB, The Dominion, 24 November 2000.

76 TVNZ News Report, DPB review urged, 24 November 2000, www.tvnz.co.nz/view/page/ 425825/17891 (last accessed April 2009).

77 Ministry of Social Development, The Social Report 2001, www.socialreport.msd.govt.nz/ 2001/index.shtml (last accessed April 2009).

78 Ministry of Social Development, The Social Report 2001, www.socialreport. msd.govt.nz/ 2001/index.shtml (last accessed April 2009).


All of which can also, in turn, contribute to young people being truant, abusing alcohol and other substances, and becoming involved in petty crime escalating to violence.

Figure 2: Teenage births and murder rates in the United States Data source: http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/national-data/pdf/STBYST07.pdf;

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/murder-rates-1996-2007 (last accessed April 2009).

An American study into income inequality found that adolescent birth rates and general homicide rates were closely correlated with each other internationally and within the United States.79

A report about recent US research into the cost of teenage births said:

Most of the costs in 2004 – $8.6 billion – were incurred by mothers 17 and younger. Compared with women who have a first child at 20 or 21, those girls are more than twice as likely to have a child placed in foster care, to be reported for child abuse or neglect, and to have a son sent to prison. Their kids are far more likely to drop out of high school and their daughters to become teen mothers themselves, the report states.80 79 Adolescent birth rates, total homicides, and income inequality in rich countries, American Journal of Public Health, vol 95(7), July 2005, www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/ articlerender.fcgi?artid=1449337 (last accessed April 2009).

80 Wendy Koch, Fewer teens are giving birth, but cost to taxpayers still steep, USA Today, 30 October 2006, www.usatoday.com/news/health/2006-10-29-teen-births_x.htm (last accessed 20 April 2009).

22 MAORI AND WELFARE Analysis of over 50,000 Washington State birth certificates from 1974 to 1975 revealed that males born to unmarried mothers under 18 years old had an 11-fold increased risk of chronic offending when compared with males born to married mothers aged 20 and older.81 That a similar pattern operates here cannot be discounted without the relevant research. The findings may partly explain why Maori make up around half of our prison population.

Maori are eight times more likely than non-Maori to be teenage parents on welfare.82 Most 16- and 17-year-old parents (until eligible for the DPB) will rely on the Emergency Maintenance Allowance, which pays the same rate.

At least half of the single parents currently on welfare started there as teenagers.83 Officially around a third of all Maori children are living with a sole parent on welfare (although an unknown number of single mothers on welfare illicitly cohabit). A life on welfare is often characterised by hardship and transience. Little is made of this facet of life on benefit and the lack of stability and security it may engender.

Peter Douglas caused more waves when he urged removal of at-risk Maori children from their whanau. This provoked a response from Tariana Turia, then a Labour MP.

I am totally opposed to children being raised outside whakapapa links.

Eerily foreshadowing the Kahui case, Douglas countered:

I saw a really interesting example of how whanau gather and support each other and it was centred around a little girl killed in the Wairarapa, and that whanau gathered and supported and hid from the police … So if we are going to talk about whanau let’s talk about all of them.84 He was talking about the murder of 21-month-old Hinewaoriki KaraitianaMatiaha, better known as Lillybing, but he might just as well have been talking about the whanau of Chris and Cru Kahui, twin babies battered to death in 2006.

After the Kahui incident, columnist Jim Hopkins wrote that the wrong people were getting the blame for the wrong reasons, the wrong people being Maori. He contends that Maori were set up by the middle-class elite as the anointed, the especially spiritual, and when such atrocities occurred, they were vilified for not ‘walking the talk’.

And while the simmering resentment about the ‘Treaty industry’ should be aimed at the policy elite who’ve spent the past three decades diligently recasting New Zealand’s first settlers as faithful guardians of a Garden of 81 Amy Conseur, Frederick P Rivara, Robert Barnoski and Irvin Emanuel, Maternal and perinatal risk factors for later delinquency, Paediatrics, vol 99, no 6, June 1997, pp 785–790.

82 Official Information Act request, 18 May 2007.

83 Official Information Act request, 7 December 2006.

84 Angela Gregory, Turia: whanau best to deal with child abuse, New Zealand Herald, 6 November 2000, p A3.


Eden destroyed by the rapacious colonist, that isn’t what happened … What we now know about the murder of Chris and Cru Kahui suggests this is a crime of condition, not colour. References to a ‘party’ house with numerous people drifting through implies that some on the property were connected with that great underclass that has been, if not created, then certainly sustained by the benefit system. This is a system with no moral compass, administered by people who require of themselves none of the conditions they expect of other employers.85 More brown babies are killed in New Zealand than white. That is a fact.

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