27 Jun 2012

MSD has conflict of interest with Maori providers - Tamihere

11:19 am on 27 June 2012

Waipareira Trust chief executive John Tamihere says a conflict of interest is developing between the Ministry of Social Development and Maori providers of social services.

The Auckland urban Maori authority is challenging the Ministry of Social Development in the High Court on Thursday over the termination of its Family Start contract.

The Waipareira Trust is one of five Maori providers which the MSD says are not meeting standards designed to protect the most vulnerable children from abuse.

But Mr Tamihere says an independent audit has found the trust's Family Start programme is working well.

He says statistically, one of the most unsafe places for a child to be is in the care of Child, Youth and Family but the ministry never shuts down its own services.

Mr Tamihere says Whanau Ora providers have grown to the point where they now compete with ministry services but depend on it for contracts, and that is a conflict of interest.

He says government agencies funded off the back of Maori failure are supposed to partner and help build Maori services, not cut their throats.

Te Whanau o Waipareira is asking the High Court to stay the termination of its Family Start contract,

claiming the ministry is in breach of the agreement.