Te Ao Tūmatanui: Strengthening the Māori Crown relationship

A key component of the new Public Service Act is the inclusion of a section on the Crown’s relationship with Māori and Te Tiriti.
Working Life asked State Services minister Chris Hipkins how he is going to measure the success of the new look partnership.

It includes expectations public service leaders work in partnership with Māori to deliver services that work for Māori, and develop a workforce that reflects the community it serves.

CH: CEs are responsible for ensuring the Crown meets its Treaty commitments and they’ll be held accountable for that. That includes ensuring they’re building a culturally competent workforce because that’s a big part of making sure we are meeting our obligations.

 Will Māori public servants contribute to the design of the partnership model? 

CH: Absolutely, Te Arawhiti have already been working with the SSC on that.

 Is funding going into establishing this partnership to enable its success? 

CH: Again Te Arawhiti are leading that work with SSC. We are kind of learning by doing and experimenting with different models. So in tertiary education, we’ve announced the establishment of Te Taumata Aronui, the Māori tertiary consultative group. That will require a bit of extra resourcing, but it’s going to be a really clear example of partnership being embedded into the work of the public service.

 We’ve heard calls from some within Māoridom for greater autonomy to provide their own services. Can this new partnership facilitate those calls from Māori? 

CH: We’ll see things like Whānau Ora which have a big degree of self-determination built into them, those sorts of programmes will continue. By Māori, for Māori is an easy catchphrase, but how do we actually live up to that? That’s something we want the public service to be considering a lot more in its day to day work.


Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina appreciates that Māori and Te Tiriti are front and centre in the public service reforms.

We are proud of our submission, which helped elevate the voice of Māori public servants within the reform process.

That voice needs to continue to be heard as change is designed and implemented.

The Minister has created a group within Te Arawhiti, the Office for Māori Crown Relations to help strengthen this partnership.

The hope is it will be a voice for Māori to inform and guide the Crown. We believe Te Rūnanga can provide an alternative unfettered voice of frontline Māori public servants, which can only support the work of Te Arawhiti.

The PSA and Te Rūnanga have a key role to play to ensure leaders are held to account, so talk about achieving equity for Māori doesn’t just remain talk.

That’s particularly true given the lack of Māori in the top tiers of public service leadership.

Te Arawhiti will also find it challenging to ensure the Crown meets its goals. That’s why we believe explicit targets must be set as a measure of accountability.

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