Making the waka go faster

21/11/2012 § 2 Comments

Monday saw the launch of He kai kei aku ringa, the Crown-Maori Economic Growth Partnership. I went along to the launch event. It was a nice affair — lots of people trying to good things for Maori and the whole country, lots of energy and support for the new plan.

Here are some good things about the plan:

  • There is an actual plan (pdf). This isn’t just hand-wringing (ringa-wringing?) about the state of Maori. There are actual things that are planned to be done. Oh, and people who are supposed to do them.
  • There are goals, relatively SMART goals. The Action Plan takes each of the specific goals, explains why they are important, and then provides a way to measure success. Not always, and things will get fudged, etc. But still, goals like ‘Higher completion rate for Maori students studying for tertiary qualifications’ and ‘Higher retention rates for Maori students in tertiary education’ can be measured and success ascertained.
  • The plan has a sensible structure. It has six strategic goals, and then 20-odd specific goals. People can remember six goals (the rule of thumb is 7 plus-or-minus 2). They can get behind six goals — they know the bigger picture. Big laundry lists aren’t suitable for this purpose, not without structure. This way, everybody knows which way the waka is headed.
  • Education is goal #1. The gap between those with tertiary qualifications and those without is growing. We can argue the why and the equity, but it has happened and does continue. Also, getting a tertiary qualification pays for itself and then some. It’s a worthwhile investment. The relatively poor performance of Maori pupils and students has to be turned around if they want economic success.
  • There appears to be actual funding involved. These initiatives cannot happen without money.

So, I’m hopeful. The plan a good first step. Now for the hard work of doing it.

To finish this off, three things:

  1. Declaration of interests: I am not disinterested in Maori development, having a wife and children who are Ngai Tahu/Kai Tahu.
  2. When the working group presented the report to the Minister, they sang a waiata. It was lovely. I have to see how I can get that added to my research contracts.
  3. The report uses the saying, Ka tangi te kākā. And here, spotted in our yard yesterday, is a kaka (the bands are from the local wildlife sanctuary):

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§ 2 Responses to Making the waka go faster

  • Thorsten says:

    Googling for “Ka tangi te kākā.” doesn’t help a lot. I found a translation, but no meaning. So for the benefit of your antipode readers – what does it mean?

    • Bill says:

      The specific phrase (‘The kaka is calling’) can be part of the ritual of speaking on a marae — see for an explanation. The phrase shows up on the Action Plan report as one of two ritual phrases reinterpreted for economic development. They are:
      ‘Ka tangi te tītī — The migratory bird that searches the globe for economic opportunities, it is connected to the home, but with a global view.’ The launch used the image of the titi several times, as part of the focus on export-led growth and connecting with the global economy.
      ‘Ka tangi te kākā — The bird of the forest resources the domestic market.’ Less was made of the kaka at the launch (but that was the photo I had). The idea, I think, is to recognise the resources that Maori do have (people and land, primarily).
      The strategy is trying to look backward to go forward, to ground the economic development plan in Maori history and culture. For example, the Plan document says:
      ‘He kai kei aku ringa is an expression that was heard so often in our parents’ generation when times were tough….
      ‘He kai kei aku ringa can also describe the intrepid migration of the ancient sailors who crisscrossed the Pacific, searching for new opportunities in trade and
      discovering new products.
      ‘Having traded and trafficked through every island and atoll, this practice or tikanga was continued here in Aotearoa amongst iwi and hapū, moving north, south, east and west with regularity. When Pākehā first arrived, trade and barter were at the foremost of all discussions.’
      The idea is to say not only ‘we can do this’, but also ‘this is who we are,’ which is a much more powerful statement.

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