Duncan Garner: Growing underclass in Māori communities

Opinion 09/04/2019

So, the influential Māori Council wants a Māori Children's Commissioner, and when you look at all the stats, you'd say about time - and more necessary than Donna Awatere Huata giving a Māori world view as the Māori Climate Change Commissioner - enough said.

But I'm sorry. I think this represents a total failure of Māori, Māori families, our communities of Māori leadership, Government agencies and, most importantly, of Māori mothers and fathers across New Zealand.

Yes, pākehā abuse and kill their kids, no doubt.

Bruce Howse, Mark Lundy, for example, but Māori do it with a greater frequency. 

Fifteen percent of the population, 70 percent of children in state care last year, were Māori - think about that.

I met one such boy over summer.

A delightful, lovely boy. Well-mannered and cared for by a pākehā family. But his eight brothers and sisters were spread around the country as his dad was in jail for murder and his mother for kidnapping. This is a cycle it repeats, and repeats again.

Let's hope those kids go ok, but what a rough start in life. 

And eight children? Families are having children they can't provide for and truth is many of these parents simply don't have the skills to cope and would be better off without kids. How you stop that is another debate entirely.

But 30 years on, with all this talk of a Māori renaissance, more Māori educated, in business, treaty settlements, the truth is a whole group has missed out.

An underclass that appears to be growing, not getting smaller.

Another Wellington mouthpiece won't change that.

We need hundreds of people inside these families at all times - teaching them right from wrong.

A total rethink is needed, not another lobbyist on behalf of what is the right thing to do.

Duncan Garner is host of The AM Show.