7 Jul 2012

Maori providers eye 'unfair' Govt contracts

11:25 pm on 7 July 2012

Maori social service providers voted at a hui on Friday to collate evidence of what they say is discrimination and bad faith practice by the Government.

Te Whanau O Waipareira chief executive, John Tamihere, says 120 people from all over New Zealand discussed unfair contracts and lower pay rates.

He says the way that the Government treats Maori service providers prevents them from being competitive, retaining staff, and growing their capabilities.

Mr Tamihere says Maori service providers are usually given only year-long contracts which may be rolled over.

But non Maori providers are given three-year agreements, while the Government's own providers are on continual contracts.

Mr Tamihere says the evidence gathered will be presented to the Waitangi Tribunal next year.

He says the hui also decided to ask the New Zealand Maori Council to join the Waipareira Trust's legal action against the Government, so all Maori service providers are represented in court.

Trust members are fighting the Government's decision to terminate its Family Start contract, claiming the Crown has breached the agreement.

It was one of five Maori service contracts the Government cancelled earlier this year.

People at the hui also endorsed a proposal to set up a group representing Maori service providers, in an effort to have a say in making strategic decisions of national importance.

Mr Tamihere says Maori service providers have told him they're feeling harassed by Government scrutineers, underfunded compared to the Government's other Crown contractors and overwhelmed by compliance costs.

He says in many cases Maori service providers do the same job as Government agencies, but on a full-time equivalent basis the Government pays its staff 40% more.