PEDA really is just whanau ora for Pacific peoples. The Government selected a private organisation and charged them with the responsibility of resolving some of the issues that exist for Pacific peoples. From what I can see, PEDA is expected to work alongside existing organisations that are charged to achieve parallel objectives for Pacific peoples, and to fill any gaps that exist for the target group/s. It will mean that the Government doesn’t need to take responsibility for coordinating this. Ideologically it makes sense for the Nats to sink funds in to a private organisation and charge them with resolving some of the challenges plaguing Pasifika communities. It would allow them (the Nat Government) to shirk their responsibilities and shrink the bureaucracy. The National Party have made no qualms in the past, of expressing a desire to see the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs disestablished – this Pacific Economic Development Agency was suppose to be their first step towards this…but it’s backfired.
What’s worse for the National Government is that the negative reaction received by the PEDA initiative is the same type of reaction that would have been given to ‘whanau ora’, if there had been a higher level of transparency around what ‘whanau ora’ would mean in practice. Who ever has been advising the nats on the Whanau ora initiative has been smart to advise them to keep the detail to a minimum. One sniff of privatisation by the public – and an outcry similar to that received by PEDA would have been inevitable. Unfortunately – the general public is still so confused about ‘whanau ora’, that they are tentative about reacting and probably would prefer to give it the benefit of the doubt.
If you asked Tariana about ‘whanau ora’ – she’d probably start talking about ‘tino rangatiratanga’ and how this is Maori having control over who provides services and how services are provided to Maori. If you had an honest conversation with John Key or Bill English (which is unlikely to happen) – they’d tell you that it will enable the Government to devolve responsibilities for this sector to private organisations, therefore enabling them to cut back on Government spending. Personally – I don’t care whether its Maori, Pakeha or Pacific who own the private organisations, I don’t want dodgy back room deals being made where hidden agendas are rife and transparency is non-existent. Our Pacific communities don’t want that either – that’s why they’ve been jumping up and down over the allocation of funding to PEDA.
I do wonder whether the Government are now concerned about whanau ora – as more details emerge about this, it’s really just going to shape up to be a much bigger version of PEDA.