Thursday 19 October 2017 . Hone Harawira
Although Winston picked Labour, the real question in Tai Tokerau is what we might see from having a whole heap of Māori MPs in parliament from up north.
Over the past 30 years, Māori communities in Tai Tokerau have been devastated by government economic mismanagement, massive long-term unemployment and social neglect. Rents gone up, powers gone up and people have been forced from their homes by ruthless corporate arrogance. We have tens of thousands of our children living below the poverty line and more than 2,000 admitted to hospital every year with preventable illnesses, and on top of that we have record levels of family and sexual violence, abuse, neglect, gambling and drug and alcohol addiction, and deepening levels of poverty the likes of which we haven’t seen in living memory.
We need simple solutions and if all our Māori MPs supported them we could see real change.
FEED THE KIDS: Give every child a free breakfast and lunch at school every day. I introduced a bill in 2014 to do exactly that and it won the support of NZ First, the Greens and Labour. There’s no reason why it can’t be passed now; even National say they want to do something similar. Feeding the kids is not about financial priorities; it’s about moral priorities. Whatever the problems of the parents, the kids shouldn’t have to suffer.
HOUSE THE HOMELESS: Prioritise homes for those in need over ‘affordable’ houses for those who can afford to buy. Don’t sell existing state houses – fix them up, rent them to low-income whānau at 25% of their income and encourage them to buy their homes; and build 2,000 new state houses in the north, every year, until the housing crisis is over. That way you create hundreds of jobs, you tackle the shortage of state housing and you free up private rentals for others. And a robust housing programme also starts to address the long term costs of homelessness – broken households, family and sexual violence, abuse, neglect, gambling, drug and alcohol addiction, and preventable disease.
REBUILD OUR COMMUNITIES: Too many of our people have been unemployed too long. People don’t like seeing the unemployed sitting round doing nothing, and if all our MPs supported it we could change that real quick. Restart Community Work Programmes and get our whanau back to work fixing up our marae, our schools, community halls, neighbourhoods, community gardens etc. It worked in the 80’s when unemployment was high. It’s worse today. Community work gets people back working and ready to take up jobs when our economy gets a reboot.
REBOOT THE ECONOMY: Labour’s “Rogernomics” policy of 1987 led directly to the loss of thousands of Māori jobs in the north when forestry, Housing Corp, NZ Rail, Freezing Works, NZ Post and the Power Board were gutted for profit. Rural Māori communities in particular were devastated and some have never recovered. Our Māori MPs should stand together and demand that government commit $50 million to regional development in Tai Tokerau led by representatives of iwi and the Far North, Whangarei and Kaipara District Councils.