28 Oct 2008

Labour promises to help Maori into houses, jobs

3:40 pm on 28 October 2008

The Labour Party has issued its Maori affairs policy, promising to continue to help Maori into houses and jobs.

Leader Helen Clark announced the policy on Sunday 26 October at Otamatea Marae in Northland.

Miss Clark said that under the Labour Government, Maori unemployment has fallen from 44,000 to 6,500.

She said Labour would continue to increase industry training so that 10% of the Maori workforce is in recognised training by 2011.

Miss Clark said Labour would help Maori realise the full potential of their fisheries and aquaculture assets, and increase funding for Maori housing programmes.

Pledge on electoral option

Labour also pledged its commitment to retaining the Maori electoral option which determines the number of Maori seats - the abolition of which is a current sticking point between the Maori Party and the National Party.

"I know that Maoridom very much want a Labour-led government back," Miss Clark said.

"I also know how much the Maori seats mean to Maoridom. Ever since the Maori electoral option was introduced, which could have seen the number of seats go down or up, they've gone up and that tells us that Maori want that choice and it should never be taken away from them."

The electoral option introduced in 1975 determines the number of Maori seats by the number of Maori who chose to register on the Maori roll.

Labour's Maori Affairs spokeperson, also speaking at the launch, said he was not in favour of work schemes as a solution for hard economic times.

Waatea News reports Parekura Horomia said the answer to helping groups such as Maori unemployed lay in another direction.

He said Labour was, for example, focusing on re-skilling middle aged Maori women because there was a very real waste of people who had brought up children and had good skills which could be used.