Will Turia ever forgive the Labour Party? | The Jackal

23 Jan 2020

Will Turia ever forgive the Labour Party?

Dame Tariana Turia with former PM John Key

What is it about Tariana Turia’s grudge against the Labour Party? Not content with attacking the Government over Whānau Ora funding, which was increased by $80 million in 2019, she has now made it personal by saying that Jacinda Ardern is out of her depth as Prime Minister.

On Tuesday, The Otago Daily Times reported:

Whanau Ora: PM 'out of her depth' - Turia 

Turia, the founder of Whānau Ora, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is out of her depth. 
The five women wrote to Jacinda Ardern in November expressing concerns that Whānau Ora was being "destroyed by stealth", seeking a meeting and expressing no confidence in Henare, but have had no reply. 
They say the name Whānau Ora is being used for projects other than those commissioned by Whānau Ora agencies and the brand is being "misappropriated" by the Government.

Firstly, Whānau Ora isn't a brand. The Whānau Ora initiative was a part of the coalition between the National and Māori parties after the 2008 general election. It was essentially a concession to the Māori Party to gain support for National’s other policy changes, many of which negatively impacted Māori.

Whānau Ora is therefore Government policy that was adopted, even though the Māori Party failed to gain a seat in the 2017 election, by the Labour led Government. This is because Whānau Ora does in fact create positive change and is therefore worth supporting.

Secondly, everybody knows that the PM has performed her duties well and operates with the decorum befitting her position. In fact after the Christchurch mosque shootings and White Island disaster the PM performed her duties in an exemplary manner. Only those with a vested interest, like Tariana Turia, would claim otherwise.

Thirdly, the Government funds Whānau Ora organisations through Te Puni Kōkiri, who have a moral and legal obligation to choose what agencies are best to receive public money as suits the current Government's objectives. This is important because there was some misappropriation under the old scheme overseen by the former Minister, Tariana Turia.

It’s not as if the issues surrounding funding allocation weren’t known before the 2017 election either. In 2011, Turia openly criticised Te Puni Kōkiri’s monitoring of different government agencies, saying they struggled with value for money. She even pondered about whether the service was of any value to Māori at all.

Because of the obvious issues with the former model, the Labour led Government correctly organised a review of Te Puni Kōkiri’s funding of Whānau Ora (PDF) in 2018.

Now Turia is criticising the Government for acting on the reviews recommendations about how best to rectify the inherent issues with the Whānau Ora’s commissioning approach. She’s basically blaming Labour for trying to resolve problems that the previous Government created.

So what has the Labour led Government said to refute Turia's spurious claims.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

Minister Peeni Henare 'refutes' Waitangi Tribunal claim over Whānau Ora funding 
Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare says a Waitangi Tribunal claim over his funding decisions is a misguided political gambit launched in the lead up to Waitangi Day. 
At the centre of the stoush is a promised $80 million in funding for Whānau Ora, which the group says is being snaffled by the Labour-led Government for state agencies. 
But Henare said the claimants "had their facts wrong", and other Government agencies were not managing Whānau Ora money or contracts. 
Henare said the claim surprised him as the matter was not raised at meetings with the claimants in recent weeks. 
But he confirmed he had read the letter to Ardern, and said he had been working on a response.  
"It's no secret that a number of the claimants are strongly aligned with the Māori Party ... I do think there are political motivations ... Waitangi is two and a half weeks away."

The attack on Jacinda Ardern and the Minister about how Whānau Ora money is being allocated including funding for new initiatives involving Corrections and the Ministry of Social Development is clearly politically motivated.

By attacking the Government over an increase in funding and how it’s being properly apportioned, the Māori Party simply confirms that they’re biased in favour of a National Party led Government, who have indicated that if elected in 2020 will continue implementing repressive policy that disproportionately affects Māori.

Until the Māori Party puts aside their unfounded and politically motivated attacks against the current Government they will unfortunately be largely unelectable through their own partisanship and preference for a right wing Government that has proven its willingness to undermine Māori interests on numerous occasions.