Tuhoe wants to battle welfare dependency

The Herald reports:

Welfare, says leader Tamati Kruger, is a “disease” that has sapped the motivation of his people.

“Being a beneficiary is a type of servitude,” he says. “It doesn’t nurture self-realisation or honour or self-respect. It destroys all of that, and the disease spreads from the individual to the family to the neighbourhood to the community.”

Kruger for Parliament I say.

Welfare is necessary for those who need temporary assistance. But unless one has a severe disability, it should not be a long-term source of income.

Another story reports on an initiative:

The Tuhoe iwi is negotiating to take over social services for its people in an ambitious bid to end welfare “dependency”.

The tribe wants to take over welfare payments, schools, healthcare and housing within its Urewera tribal area from Whakatane south to Lake Waikaremoana.

Tuhoe chief executive Kirsti Luke said a majority of Tuhoe people in that area were on benefits, and tribal leader Tamati Kruger said the iwi aimed to change that.

“We are declaring war on dependency,” Mr Kruger said. “Our motivation is that if we want to be a vibrant people, to be a productive people who live up to their beliefs and to their faith as to what life is all about, and the honour that has to be part of humanity, then this is clearly what we have to overcome – because being a beneficiary is a type of servitude.”

Mr Kruger said Tuhoe had put a proposition to the Government to make better use of the $55 million a year taxpayers spend on welfare benefits for 4934 Maori beneficiaries around the Tuhoe tribal area. At the last Census, the tribe had 35,000 members.

“We believe that we can design a system where there is a transition from benefits to wages and salaries,” he said.

In principle this is a great idea.

But there are constitutional problems. Just because someone is a member of Tuhoe doesn’t mean their welfare payments can be paid through Tuhoe without their consent. There would need to be some sort of opt in process.

But if there is a way they can make this happen, it is worth doing. Success is not guaranteed, but Tuhoe should be in a better position than WINZ to work with its own members to reduce welfare dependency.

The iwi has set up its own doctors’ clinic in Taneatua, without state funding. More than 500 of its 884 enrolled patients were not previously enrolled at any clinic in the Bay of Plenty.

Tuhoe is now negotiating with the Education Ministry to share control of the 15 schools in its area and use them as hubs to develop health services, skills training and jobs.

Again, good to see positive leadership.

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