‘Tawhiti rawa i tō tatou haerenga atu te kore haere tonu’ - Sir James Henare
The Public Service in its current form is failing Māori. This is abundantly clear as Māori are over-represented in all negative social statistics. We need a public service that delivers for Māori.
In our submission on the Public Service Legislation Bill, Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina recommended the purpose of the new Act be amended to recognise the public service’s role in supporting the Crown in its relationships with Māori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
By weaving the intention of Te Tiriti through the Public Service, we can enhance the relationship between Māori and the Crown and work together to design and deliver services that achieve better outcomes for Māori.
Under the new bill public service leaders are responsible for developing capability of the public service to better engage with Māori.
But it is disappointing it is not more explicit in codifying their responsibilities. We need stronger legislation that spells out expectations to deliver for Māori.
Chief executives should also be required to give practical effect to the Crown’s Te Tiriti obligations in their employment relationship with Māori working in public services.
We recommend the appointment of a Deputy Commissioner Māori to provide visible leadership on public service outcomes for Māori.
Māori leadership ensures better outcomes for Māori , primarily because with leaders at the table we can influence fundamental decisions.
We also recommend the establishment of a Māori standing advisory committee to assist the Commissioner with their responsibilities. The committee would include representation from Māori leaders within the public service and the Māori structures of the unions of Māori working in public services.
Rūnanga Rangatahi rep Rireana Kirkwood gave a hearfelt personal submission on the new bill:
I have found working for Māori in the Public Service to be fulfilling. I feel I am achieving change in the community even if it is just a small change. When the bill refers to the ‘spirit of service’ I understand this fully.
However, being a 22 year-old woman in the Public Service, I would like to see more opportunities for young aspiring leaders in our community.
In my career my ultimate aim is to help stop the vicious socio-economic cycle Māori find themselves in. So I want outcomes that benefit Māori workers in the Public Service and Māori in the community I serve.
I understand how important this bill will be. It needs to be bold, especially around Te Tiriti o Waitangi to attract more young people to work for the public service.
PSA members and local communities joined forces in February to protest restructuring that threatened hundreds of jobs and quality client care.
While the restructuring by HealthCare NZ is now set to go ahead the protests have thrown a spotlight on issues besetting the home care and support sector.
Union organisers from the Pacific have spoken about the challenges some face while trying to improve conditions for workers in their countries.