MSD has released a commissioned report about decentralising welfare to Tuhoe.
Tūhoe is a relatively young population with high levels of unemployment, welfare dependency and low incomes....
In 2011 the Crown entered into a relationship agreement with Tūhoe in which it acknowledged the mana motuhake of Tūhoe and its aspirations to self-govern. Tūhoe have their aspirations to become independent of the Government, generate its own revenue and become self-sustaining. MSD has asked whether or not it is feasible to transfer a portion of the Crown’s liability to Tūhoe.
In plain English can benefits be paid forward in a lump sum to enable Tuhoe to establish employment initiatives and their own social services?
Tuhoe has high forward liability:
29 per cent of Tūhoe received a benefit payment (unemployment, sickness, invalid, or
domestic purposes) as a source of income at some time in the 12 months prior to the 2013 Census, compared to 24 percent of the Maori population, and 10 per cent of the total
The above shows benefit receipt for the general population (col 1), then Maori, then Tuhoe.
That's snapshot data. Because young parenting and youth unemployment are high, the length of time spent on benefits is greater.
The research considers international attempts at self governance and suggests:
Experience shows that a goal of profitable business ventures is the most effective way to
increase employment opportunities in the long-run.
It considers some NZ initiatives and describes them a s a "mixed bag". However the "risks" are less than the "lost opportunity".
The rest is essentially suggested scenarios for transferring the "liability" (cash resource) to Tuhoe.
Apparently MSD are in the process of assessing the actuarial liability of Tuhoe.
What does Tuhoe want to do with the funds?
With the return of Te Urewera together with Tūhoe current land interest brings land value in excess of 300,000 acres. Tūhoe have identified they are capable of developing a range of industries that will create employment opportunities and thereby reduce welfare
dependencies. The industries they have identified as possible within their rohe include the following:
• Science and research
• Food and technology
• Culture & Heritage.
Tūhoe have also identified a number of social sector initiatives such as:
• Development of charter schools that embrace tribal tikanga, set up in the rohe with
consolidated governance arrangements.
• Health centres in each of the four Tūhoe settlements that meet the needs of the rohe’s
population including mental health and addiction.
It's a reasonably lengthy document so take my speed-read summary on trust.
But I am left with questions. If it happened for Tuhoe, wouldn't it conceivably have to happen for any other tribe, group, or even individual, with a (expected) forward liability?
And I wonder what Savage would have made of the evolution of social security? I don't imagine his vision of providing income security to the poorest, most disadvantaged in the here and now extended to calculating forward lifetimes of income dependency to be paid in advance.
Then again the dependency is real and if Tuhoe can do a better job of reducing it than the state, why not?
And a pointless, after the fact final question. Wouldn't it have been better if the dependency hadn't been enabled in the first place?