Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Maori Economy 2017: Not my economy...

Anand Menon was in Newcastle speaking before the Brexit referendum. 'Invoking the gods of economics', Professor Menon argued the UK’s GDP was likely to plunge if Britain left the EU. A Geordie woman yelled out: “That’s your bloody GDP. Not ours.”'

Out of the mouths of hecklers, ay.

And therein lies the rub.
So what Maori economy?

Recall its inception by BERL (at the behest of the Minister of Maori Development). The initial model toted it up as:

• Trusts and incorporations of $4.0 billion
• Other Maori entities of $6.7 billion
• Businesses of self-employed Maori of $5.4 billion
• Businesses of Maori employers of $20.8 billion

I'd suggest few Maori are actually 'beneficiaries' (a loaded term) of this economy, and many who are, aren't picking up much of a cheque.

Fast-forward to 2017. Yes an election year, so expect lots of soundbites (including a rich white man calling a not-so-rich Maori man an Uncle Tom). The key comment for me came from the new Prime Minister, Bill English:

"[W]e have reached the limits of what government can do."

This is contrary to what Professor Jonathon Boston stated on Radio NZ (interview link here). Boston discusses evidence on the growth of poverty and the loss of opportunity for many New Zealanders through explicit government policies (from the left and the right although the mainstream left in NZ are hardly supportive of labour)

So if the government won't do more (I actually think they will, simply to maintain appearances), where are the resources to come from? I think it's quite clear that the expectation of government and many Maori leaders (iwi and business), is that Maori are to be supported by this Maori economy.

One might expect Maori to start heckling speakers such as Bill English. But not just Wee Will Pom (let's not forget his double-dipping over Parliamentary accommodation monies). Maori leaders should also be heckled over their economic naivety (ok, tikanga may prevent or at least censure traditional European heckling. And as an academic i must abide my many ancient rules that frame debates).

This Maori Economy is not the economy of many Maori at all, at all...

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Simon Lambert

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