I also think we’re maturing together, as a nation.Because welfare dependency got a mention I thought I'd look at Maori statistics.
Nowadays, almost every time people sing God Defend New Zealand – at a school, at a sports match or a formal ceremony – we sing it in both Māori and English.
It wasn’t always that way – only in the past 15 years has it become widespread.
New Zealanders just started doing it, because it felt right.
It feels like the right kind of representation of who we are as a nation.
It’s the type of understated change that appears small, but one I think speaks volumes about how we have grown.
So in 25 years’ time, when New Zealand celebrates 200 years of nationhood, there are some changes I’d like to see.
In 2040, every willing and able iwi will be settled.
In 2040, all Māori owned land will be far better utilised, delivering jobs and prosperity, particularly for those in regional areas.
And in 2040, I want to see the disparity in educational achievement eliminated.
For young Māori, this means really digging in to lift achievement.
For the Government, it means ensuring our education system works for all students. It also means developing initiatives to support young people and families in other areas.
Like free doctors’ visits for under-13s.
Like subsidising early childhood education.
And getting our schools, social organisations and law enforcement agencies to work together so children don’t stumble into a life of petty crime or welfare dependency.
Governments can’t make these changes by themselves.
We also need to get alongside families and give them the right support. It’s not just about throwing money at a problem.
Because you can’t buy the dedication of communities who want to rid their streets of drugs and crime.
And you can’t buy the dedication of a mother who is trying to keep her 14-year-old son in school.
When you give families what they actually need, great changes can happen.
Māori children, for example, are now being immunised at nearly double the rate they were in 2007. So I’ve no doubt the willingness – and the ability – to chase success in education is there, with the right support.
5 years ago 31.4 percent of people on benefit were Maori. Today it is 34.5 percent. Over a third of working-age people on welfare are Maori, yet Maori make up just 15 percent of the total population.
The Maori working age (18-64) population is 386,360 with 106,567 on welfare - 27.6 percent. High but it's been worse.
There are 37,275 Maori on Sole Parent Support compared to 32,378 NZ European.
Roughly, Maori are three times as likely to rely on welfare than non-Maori.
As well as aiming for the "elimination of disparity in educational achievement" by 2040, the elimination of disparity in welfare dependence would be a great thing. Perhaps the second will follow the first. I hope I am around to see it.