Five of the most outstanding Māori women leaders have lodged legal action against the Government and written to the Prime Minister saying they have “no confidence” in her Whānau Ora Minister.

Dame Tariana Turia, Dame Naida Glavish, Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Lady Tureiti Moxon and Whānau Ora Commissioning (WOCA) Chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait have filed a Waitangi Tribunal claim under urgency.

They allege the Crown has breached Te Tiriti o Waitangi by dragging the Whānau Ora policy back under state delivery. The consequence is suffering and prejudice for those most vulnerable in the Māori community. State delivery has failed. Building Māori capacity, competency and resilience must be protected by the state.

“Non-Maori Crown agencies and non-Maori third party agencies, once again will continue to be funded to manage Maori failure without measurement,” the claim states.

Whānau Ora has been a Government programme since 2010. In 2014, the Government devolved funding from a state-run model to a commissioning model, delivered in the North Island by the 
Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency. This occurred as the Auditor-General noted the State had failed to report adequately on expenditure.

Before the 2017 election, Labour deputy leader
Kelvin Davis announced a Labour Government would boost Whānau Ora by an extra $20 million over the next four years. But once elected, they ordered a Whānau Ora review and despite glowing findings by the Auditor-General, the promised funds have not materialised.

Frustrated by the stalling tactics, in November, the claimants sent a letter to Jacinda Ardern forewarning the Prime Minister of pending legal action.

“It is with deep regret that I inform you multiple Governing Boards, in the Whānau Ora space, along with a number of our provider groups have endorsed a requirement that we proceed to litigate against the Minister of Whānau Ora and as a consequence your Government (the Crown),” the letter said.

“We have endeavoured to understand the policy position of your Government and have met on a number of occasions with the Minister of Whānau Ora, in an attempt to understand your approach to the Whānau Ora Policy framework that has been deployed by us over the last five years.

“As a consequence we can no longer have confidence in the Minister of Whānau Ora given his lack of support, direction and confidence in the policy described as Whānau Ora.”

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13 February 2020

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