8 Sep 2015

'100 pages of self-justification'

10:46 am on 8 September 2015

A new report into Whānau Ora is 100 pages of self-justification, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says.

Mr Peters, a long-time critic of the social policy initiative, said the review still did not explain how the $140 million programme was performing and how the money had been spent.

Winston Peters giving his 2015 Budget speech.

Winston Peters is pointing to a lack of detail in a report on Whanau Ora Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The phase one report surveyed almost 900 whānau and found more than half experienced improvements in accessing services, happiness, relationships and leadership.

Mr Peters said there had been numerous complaints about Whānau Ora's spending and the report did not touch on that.

"Instead it's just pages of self-justification, with no serious examination of how it is performing."

Whānau Ora is the Māori Party's key policy and was set up in 2010 as part of the confidence and supply agreement between it and National.

In May, auditor-general Lyn Provost criticised lead agency Te Puni Kokiri for spending one third of Whānau Ora funding on administration and not enough on families.

The minister responsible for Whānau Ora, Te Ururoa Flavell, said administration spending had reduced to less than 15 percent of total funding.

Te Ururoa Flavell.

Te Ururoa Flavell Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

He said Mr Peters needed to read the report, and talk to those involved.

"His older sister is involved as a lead provider in Whānau Ora and she knows the benefits."

However Labour's Maori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta echoed Mr Peters' concerns about the lack of transparency.

"Well, I would have thought that there would have been an explanation about the huge amount of funding that went into administrative costs. The report was conducted under TPK [Te Puni Kokiri]. It was about how they rolled out the initiative."

Ms Mahuta said Whānau Ora outcomes were not even measurable.

Nanaia Mahuta

Nanaia Mahuta Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

She said the report was a whole bunch of surveys and quantative information.

Prime Minister John Key said the report argued a strong case that Whānau Ora services were working. He said it was a new way of dealing with whanau issues and there was a place for it.

Mr Flavell said the report was done to ensure Cabinet and his ministerial colleagues were convinced of the benefit of Whānau Ora.

He said the report was never going to be about funding.

Whānau Ora provider's challenge to Winston Peters

One Whānau Ora provider in west Auckland, meanwhile, said he knew the location of every dollar spent by providers linked to his organisation.

Waipareira Trust head John Tamihere told Morning Report he did have information on spending and results.

"Today, if you would ask me exactly where every cent of Whānau Ora money is, under our Whānau Ora providers that are linked to the North Island Commission[ing] Agency, I can give Winston a spreadsheet and I can tell him where every dollar is in play."

Mr Tamihere said Waipareira Trust had teamed up with consultancy company Deloitte to design a social calculator to measure where and how money was spent.

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