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Why is separate cyclone relief money given to Māori? 

In brief

  • The Government divvies out cyclone relief money according to race. 
  • Willie Jackson justifies the separate pay outs because he says a history of racism has left Māori amongst the poorest.  
  • Jackson’s own portfolio gets the lion’s share. 
  • Is this a wise, fair, or efficient way to distribute relief? 

Building back better

Under the banner of “Building back better” the Labour government  have included a cyclone relief package of $15m to be given to “Iwi, hapū and marae trusts and incorporations, plus other Māori entities and providers in affected areas”. 

Jackson’s own portfolio was the biggest recipient of the funding, with $9m. 

The Government has had some miscues with hastily prepared programs. Money was sent far and wide in the recent cost of living payments debacle. Te Whatu Ora’s Health Promotion Agency also had a scandal with considerable funds spent that were not managed, resulting in a poor outcome.

There was also no discussion about what controls would be in place on distributing the money. For instance, would the usual government controls be involved and would it be subject to audit?

Hoskings calls “racist”…

In a segment for Newstalk ZB, broadcaster Mike Hoskings questioned why flood relief needed to be race based. Hoskings asked how weather can be race-based, pointing out that communities of all races and cultures have been hit and asked what is a “Māori-led response?” 

Jackson responds…sort of…

Jackson took the article as a personal attack and in an opinion piece in the NZ Herald summarised Hoskings argument this way: 

The rain isn’t racist, (Hoskings) argues, so why should the repair damage be racist? He claims that any funding specifically put aside to help with the heart-wrenching damage lumped on many marae is, therefore, racist.

However, Jackson fails to articulate why the payout isn’t racist. Instead Jackson justifies the funding because, “The history of this country has undeniably been racist against Māori, resulting in Māori being left in poverty.” But of course that is really just Jackson’s view and not one universally shared even amongst Māori. Jackson has called ACT leader David Seymour a “useless Māori” for not ascribing to his worldview.  

Jackson goes on, “By Māori, for Māori solutions can benefit everyone”. 

Will there be follow-up to determine if flood funding helped both Māori and non-Māori equally?

The Government’s “race obsessed” 

Government spending based on race isn’t new.  ACT’s David Seymour has accused Labour of being race obsessed and that over a billion dollars spent on Māori health in the recent budget only showed “That the Government would like to spend money along racial lines.”  

ACT and the Taxpayers Union have previously called out the Government’s ethnic procurement policy that is also race based with a preference for Māori. 

“We have to stop the racialisation of everything” says Seymour. 

According to NZ First leader Winston Peters, Labour has been guilty of “virtue signalling racism” in the past. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ support for race based relief funding, plus the continued push for co-governance, suggests Peters would say the racism of the Labour party is continuing. 

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