MSD actions perpetuates violence on vulnerable whanau.

We should all be disturbed by the decision from MSD Deputy CEO Murray Edridge to end discussions with Relationship Aotearoa in regards to the ongoing provision of counselling support to over 7,000 people across the country. Over 2,500 of those are Maori.   There needs to be questions asked as to where the CEO Brendan Boyle has been throughout this whole debacle. We have been fed a diet of misinformation about the state of play in regards to Relationships Aotearoa. It is important to understand that officials have clearly been providing Minister Tolley with incorrect information as to both the financial viability of the organisation and processes to ensure the wellbeing of those 7,000 people, many of whom are in positions of high vulnerability. To give clearer information the following press release was provided last week by Acting Chair of Relationships Aotearoa, Dr Jane Allison:

“While Relationships Aotearoa continues talks with Ministry officials today (May 21), it is worth considering what the community might lose”, says Dr Jane Allison, Interim Chair of Relationships Aotearoa (RA).
“RA is into year 2 of a 3 year strategy which aligns to government goals focussed on vulnerable children, families and whanau and breaking the cycle of family violence.
“Other Non Government Organisations (NGOs) are trying to catch up, but all are struggling with old style contracts that don’t focus on client outcomes, and there is an expectation that clients or philanthropic donors will subsidise cost of service delivery.
“Performance information shared amongst officials and NGOs shows RA clinicians spend upwards of 60% of their time with clients compared to Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) who achieve less than 30% of face to face time with clients.
“Other NGOs can’t match the investment in systems and clinical practice RA has achieved to date. In fact Minister Tolley acknowledged that RA is “ahead of the game””, says Dr Allison.
“Furthermore, we have also learnt that Ministry officials were working under the assumption that RA was closing, and no service continuity for clients was planned”, she says.
“We know RA staff continue to work hard and are maintaining their professionalism under highly stressful and uncertain conditions.
“We hope to have an answer for clients, staff and all those who have supported us soon”.

Dr Jane Allison
Relationships Aotearoa Chair
027 722 6966

So one has to ask why MSD have moved so ruthlessly today and denied the opportunity for a longer term smooth transition process where those people who are served by the organisation have their needs clearly met. Where there may well be areas of development that Relationships Aotearoa need to address there are significant contributions by the organisation that will be lost in this action, including the most effective and up to date Client Management system. Those developments and contributions need to be given the opportunity to be carefully managed in any change process. It is significant that MSD cut negotiations so abruptly and the question needs to be asked whether officials have done some form of back door deal with other groups that are deemed more palatable to them. This would not be surprising it would however been unethical.

MSD need to be held more accountable for their lack of insight in terms of enabling transition for those individuals and whānau whose needs are currently served by Relationships Aotearoa. Their wellbeing should be first and foremost in any process. For MSD to end negotiations and to abruptly put and end to those services is unacceptable and Minister Tolley should be intervening and calling to task both the absent CEO and the Deputy CEO for their inability to provide for the needs of our whānau and communities. Also today Waikato Social Services also had MSD move in and suspend funds for 2 months.  So what happens to the people being served by that Provider?  To not provide for the needs of those who are being served by these two organisations is not only unethical and immoral but it is an act of state violence upon many of our community who are already experiencing hardship.  Irrespective of what is happening at an organisational level we must ensure that the needs of the individuals, whanau and communities who are receiving support from these services be the priority focus. Cutting off that support will have much longer term impacts on their wellbeing.

Reflecting on Being Indigenous – Peoples Born of and With Our Lands! In Solidarity!

Speech delivered by Dr Mera Penehira on May 1st 2015 “Stop the forced closure of Aboriginal communities” rally held in Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland).

 … And so we continue to fight for our land, our sea, our rivers, and our birds our children our mothers and fathers. It is a fight to retain them in OUR kaitiakitanga ( in OUR protection), to MAINTAIN them and glorify them as they soooo deserve and as has been done for many generations before US.

 I was recently asked if I would be prepared to put my baby on the line in battle for the land and forced to consider fully my real life politics, my preparedness for battle of a different nature than I am familiar with in everyday speak… WE come of land and people who have fought to still be here. The battles have cost lives; the battles have maintained and retained the life and kaitiakitanga (PROTECTION) of our mother Papatūānuku.

 My response back to the woman who asked the question of life or death of my baby for the land, was to rephrase the question …‘Would I be prepared to put my mother on the line in battle for my baby, OR would I see the death of my mother for the life of my baby?’


The land is OUR mother, she is US, she is OUR baby and to lose Papuatanuku (OUR land) is to ultimately lose all. To lose what is present, past and future. And so my answer is yes, I would fight. YES WE WILL FIGHT … WE WILL fight for OUR babies and WE WILL FIGHT FOR OUR MOTHERS AND GRANDMOTHERS. Because UNDERSTAND THIS: to save Papatūānuku MOTHER EARTH … IS to save pēpi, OUR BABIES and FUTURE GENERATIONS . Would I lose my baby for my mother by choice? Never! “Ko tou uri ka whai mai i ou koutou tapuwae” (our offspring follow in our footsteps). What point is the land if there is no one to walk on her? What point is a mother without children? What point is the battle when those for whom we fight no longer exist? And as I wrote this piece I was reminded of the words of someone else’s rhyme … ‘not to fight is to commit suicide’. We pick up our arms and we fight these battles because we are on a battlefield, whether we like it or not we have been born here in this time that often requires us to be warriors. It is our responsibility to our land, it is our life and we are grateful for her in every respect.

This work we do, this gathering we are all now a part of … It is about: HEART, MIND, BODY and SOUL! From generations before, from lifetimes before … FOREVER we as Indigenous peoples have been a part of our sacred lands, not just connected … WE ARE BORN OF THESE LANDS! TANGATA WHENUA! WE ARE THE LAND AND SHE IS US!

SHAME Australia! To dare try and break this bond!

SHAME Australia! To dare ignore the rights of Indigenous peoples!

SHAME Australia! To dare lay your police physical brutality and abuse on Indigenous peoples!

We Maori stand in solidarity today with our brothers and sisters across the ocean of Te Tai o Rehua!

We stand in solidarity with all of our relations across the globe presently fighting for the protection of their ancestral lands.

Navigating across the ocean of Te Moana Nui a Kiwa … We can this evening, congratulate Kanaka Maoli in Hawaii who stand strong to protect Mauna Kea, and who today witnessed the significant back down of the Office of Hawaiian affairs … who now as a direct result of the Protect Mauna Kea actions, have rescinded their original support for the building of a Thirty Metre Telescope on Mauna Kea. Sovereignty! Rangatiratanga! Although not the FULL endorsement of ‘opposition’ that the people have clearly voted for as is required, it is still a significant move in that direction, and does signal clearly an achievement of the people’s voice, mana and commitment.

Returning closer to home … WHITE AUSTRALIA … YOU DO HAVE A BLACK HISTORY. WE ARE here today to ensure, that this history WILL NOT include the forced closure of Aboriginal communities. We are here to stop cultural genocide. We are here in solidarity for the protection of ancestral lands!

Tihei mouri ora! Tihei mouri tangata! Tihei mouri whenua!

Dr Mera Penehira
Dr Mera Penehira

Dr Mera Penehira

Ngati Raukawa ki Otaki; Rangitaane; NgaiTeRangi

Director Postgraduate and Lecturer

Te Puna Wananga

University of Auckland