Sunday, November 24, 2013
Mike Butler: No retreat on race-based funding
Just eight years ago, the headline announced “Government in retreat over race-based funding”(1). The nation was heading for a general election. National Party leader Don Brash had delivered his nationhood speech on the drift towards racial separatism the preceding year that had sparked a surge in his party’s support -- the biggest gain by a political party in a single poll in Colmar Brunton's polling history.
The “retreat over race-based funding” was part of the Labour government’s strategy to recoup the ground lost to National in the February poll. The interesting aspect of the Herald report was that no one seemed to know a total cost of race-based funding.
The “retreat” report noted that race-based funding cuts or changes reported in 2005 involved 37 programmes. Those cut included: $57-million race component for cheap doctors' visits; $9-million to tertiary providers to enrol Maori and Pacific students; ethnically targeted public service scholarships; and Pacific Island Affairs secondary school scholarships.
An attempt to quantify this sort of funding in research for the book Twisting the Treaty; A tribal grab for wealth and power last year proved difficult to compile from Budget appropriations because apart from obvious amounts such as for treaty settlements, the operation of the Waitangi Tribunal, the Office of Treaty Settlements, and Te Puni Kokiri, no budgeted spending was clearly identified as racial.
Therefore I sent in requests under the Official Information Act to the Ministers of Health, Education, Social Development, Housing, and Maori Affairs asking for the full list of Maori service providers (tribal, urban, and other authority) contracted by each respective ministry in the 2012-13 financial year, and full details of funding that those providers had received in that year.
Tariana Turia as Associate Health Minister replied with a note to define a Maori health provider as “owned and governed by Maori and is providing health and disability services primarily but not exclusively for Maori” and listed 177 such providers in the 2012-13 year which received funding that totalled $95.23-million in that year.
But direct fund of the type Turia had listed is not the only government money that these providers receive and she did not provide details of how much government agencies paid Maori health providers for the various contracts for services through that year.
As an example of the annual revenue of these providers, the Hastings-based Taiwhenua O Heretaunga recorded a revenue of $11.05-million in the previous year (no current financial report could be found) and in 2012-13 received funding of $366,505. The balance presumable derived from contracts with government departments.
In this race-based-funding-meets-crony-capitalism arrangement, the amount of government money handled by Maori social service providers most likely far exceeds the stated funding. The payment for contracts delivered by Te Taiwhenua could be over $10-million in a single year.
Supposing 177 such providers had government contracts receiving a similar level of reimbursement from government departments, the total for all such contracts in a single year would be $1.7-billion.
The response from the Education Ministry revealed that the 72 registered Maori tertiary training providers received a total of $41.6-million, in 2012-13, the Maori tertiary education institution with multiple campuses and courses known as Te Wananga o Aotearoa received $170-million, Maori student achievement received $8.5-million, and Te Reo Maori received $5.7-million.
A couple of phone conversations with officials within the ministry failed to identify the amount that went to kura kaupapa (year1-13) Maori language medium schools, and figures from 2011-12 revealed that kohanga reo language nest pre-schools received $67.5-million with $2.64-million for administration.
Social Development deputy chief executive corporate and governance David Shanks replied that his ministry did not record external providers based on ethnic grouping and refused my request but did send a list of 13 providers that received a total of $5.13-million.
Housing Minister Nick Smith replied that five Maori organisations received a total of $6.36-million from the Social Housing Fund in the 2012-13 year.
Te Puni Kokiri provided information from the Maori Potential Fund for the 2012-13 year to social service providers which totalled $13.25-million. However, the total budget for TPK that year was $209.5-million that included $49-million for Whanau Ora and $75-million for Te Reo.
Vote Treaty Negotiations consumed $519.97-million. The Waitangi Tribunal took $10.7-million out of the Courts budget. Waikato River co-governance cost $16-million. Environmental accords and other co-management cost a further $6-million.
The grand total of race-based funding documented from these requests under the Official Information Act is $1.16421-billion. Add a further $1.7-billion in possible health contracts throughout New Zealand with Maori social service providers.
Core Crown expenditure for 2012-13 was $73.7-billion so the race-based funding revealed in the OIA requests represents around one 60th of that amount.
The amount of race-based funding that was carefully released in response to my questions is half a billion away from the $1.7-billion that went into bailing out South Canterbury Finance three years ago. But that bailout was a one-off and race-based funding is distributed year after year.
1. “Government in retreat over race-based funding”, NZ Herald, Friday June 24, 2005. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10332435
at 11:49 AM