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Landmark survey released what keeps Maori awake at night 2019

The annual survey of “what keeps Maori awake at night” has been published at the New Zealand Maori Councils Executive Director has said change and action is not happening fast enough:

“The survey is a strong indicator that Maori are fed up with inaction across a lot of fronts from suicide and mental health through to state care of our children and a crisis in affordable housing. They are sick and tired of the Police saying one thing about organizational and cultural change only to see them appearing to target mostly Maori communities. They are deeply concerned about being impoverished and have questions about Maori leadership and not the lack of voice but the lack of being heard. In other words Maori are deeply troubled across nearly every kaupapa area and they aren’t always seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In other words our people are concerned for the present and equally troubled by what the future holds. The single biggest consistent thing that concerns them is lack of action.” Matthew Tukaki, Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council.

  • 1,000 the number of Maori surveyed using the subscription list evenly split between urban and provincial

  • 708 responded to the survey – higher than average for such surveys and slightly lower than last year’s response rate

  • 63% of respondents were female / 37% male

  • Highest age group response was wahine between the ages of 45-64 followed by wahine aged 18 – 24.

  • The top five kaupapa issues were weighted to arrive at percentages while the same exercise was undertaken to identify the next five (5-10) kaupapa issues of importance

Top five things that are keeping our people awake at night:

  1. Oranga Tamariki and our Children in the Care of the State (27%)

  2. Housing and Housing Affordability (either being able to enter the buyers’ market or rental costs) (23%)

  3. Suicide and Mental Health (20%)

  4. Policing (16%)

  5. The Cost of Living and employment (14%)

Next top five:

  1. Representative voice and Leadership

  2. The Treaty of Waitangi and the settling of kaupapa claims

  3. The Primary Health System

  4. Corrections and the Justice System

  5. Population and Immigration

“First of all this survey gives us a real insight into what is keeping our people awake at night and if an overall picture could be painted it suggest that they are concerned about the daily struggle of life and also feeling as if they are losing their voice. I was aware that Oranga Tamariki would loom large because of the media coverage and the band-aid being pulled off an already festering wound, as well as suicide and mental health. All of those issues have touched Maori wherever they may live and many shared stories of what was happening in their lives in the “other comments” section of the survey. Each of the situations described show a depth of grief and despair but also the fact that many feel as if they have no control over what the system is or isn’t doing for them. Overarching all of this are the comments that people want to see action on the issue and also recognition that we are not addressing the root cause of the problem and that is all of those markers that both create and sustain poverty and where there is poverty there is pressure on whanau.” Tukaki said

“When it comes to housing and housing affordability many felt that they were only just keeping there heads above water and this played into some of the responses around the cost of living and employment – in other words many of our people were simply living hand to mouth. The pay cheque would come in and almost as soon it did it would be out the door again. This meant they were unable to save for a deposit for a house and their savings were pretty limited if at all. For those who owned a house there appeared to be constant concern around keeping up with mortgage payments. When it came to the rental market the reality is that it was a question of being able to afford to live near where they worked or they were in a situation where they could not keep up with the cost of living of which rent was over more than half of what they earned. The fear of being evicted or just making decisions about what couldn’t be bought – such as food or the power bills. This again played into the cost of living concerns sitting at number five.” Tukaki said

“Policing has popped up at number four and this is also a long festering wound where the band aid has been pulled off. It’s a range of issues in terms of trust – and its obvious the Police have a long way to go. Its now compounded by the black SUVs that appear to be targeting mostly areas with a high Maori population and then there are comments about the Police presence at Ihumatao earlier on in the year. This one is still that festering sore where the band-aid is now just hanging on in terms of Police engagement with Maori communities.” Tukaki said

Top five things that are keeping our people awake at night: Comments and additional background

  1. Oranga Tamariki and our Children in the Care of the State: the majority of respondents were genuinely concerned about the system and the uplifting of babies and children with another high number having a form of lived experience where they had either been directly involved with the Agency or its predecessor or knew someone (in or out of the Whanau) who did. Equal concern was given to the number of times reports were written and recommendations made but no apparent action taken to resolve the issue around prevention of children in the care of the State. A good proportion recognized the need for a Kaupapa Maori approach.

  2. Housing and Housing Affordability (either being able to enter the buyers’ market or rental costs): Respondents were concerned about the cost of living impacting on their ability to be able to afford to save for a deposit for a home (irrespective of the urban / regional split. This was tied to the increasing cost of living and the fact that many felt they were just keeping their heads above water. When it comes to the rental market many expressed concerns about the movement

  3. Suicide and Mental Health: Many respondents remain concerned about the level of response from the Government in respect of the announcements made earlier this year with many commenting on a lack of action when it came to Maori specific services. Many related their lived experience through additional comments with those in the regions expressing great concern over the lack of support in local communities. Others still reacted negatively to statements made by the Government in terms of funding, but little appeared to have translated when it came to action on the ground

  4. Policing: Respondents were concerned and troubled about the Police announcement of special armed units that appear to be targeting mostly Maori and Pasifika postcodes. The same number were concerned the Police still were not doing enough in terms of breaking down racism in the organisation where Maori and people of color appear to be unduly targeted in being stopped and arrested and charged for low level offending.

  5. The Cost of Living and employment: Many respondents remain very concerned about their economic circumstances, levels of debt and the inability to sustain the basic costs of living. While this has shifted from number one in 2018s survey the issues appears to have all of the same characteristics such as being part of the low wage, low wage growth and low skills side of the economy and unable to afford both the basics and having no or little savings reserves when it comes to emergencies such as Tangi or whanau events. Some indicated the pressure this brings on the whanau and relationships while others also showed concern for the inability to afford the basics for tamariki from presents at Christmas and birthdays through to essential equipment (laptops and so on) for school

A detailed report on the findings are being prepared for the National Hui of Chairs of the New Zealand Maori Council being held in Rotorua on the weekend of the 30th of November.

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