It looks like the hacks at Stuff might not have got it quite right, when they reported what Joris de Bres told the Maori Affairs Select Committee.
The committee is holding an inquiry into the well-being of Maori children.
This was timely, coinciding with the release of the coroner’s report on the deaths of the Kahui kids.
The first sentence of the Stuff account of de Bres’ presentation (here) tells us –
Maori children are being denied their basic human rights, Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said.
It makes us guilty of dreadful race discrimination.
But then again – maybe not.
Denying Maori children their basic human rights would be discriminatory only if the kids of Pakeha, Asian and all other parents were not being denied their basic human rights.
But as you will see, this ain’t necessarily so.
More obviously, the committee hearing itself is blatantly discriminatory, because it is not much interested in or bothered about the well-being of kids of Pakeha, Asian and other parents.
It’s discriminatory focus is fixed only on the kids of Maori.
The committee should immediately run into the difficulty of defining a Maori kid, as distinct from a non-Maori kid, because many Kiwi kids are the offspring or descendants of mixed-race parents.
So – how much Maori blood is needed to entitle a kid to special treatment for the purposes of social policy and the benefits it brings?
But Alf is being mischievous.
The select committee does not give a toss about definitional difficulties and will be thoroughly cavalier in its use of statistics that don’t satisfactorily distinguish between ethnic groups.
Dunno if Joris had considered the definitional issue, either, before talking to the select committee.
Mr de Bres this morning told the committee Maori children had basic rights to be free from discrimination, for their language and culture to be respected and nourished, to have an adequate standard of living and to health, education, safety and housing.
That should be true of all kids, surely.
But Boris was not interested in all kids.
“This is not the case for many Maori children at present.”
Not all Maori kids.
Can we get numbers?
Sure we can.
Of the quarter of a million Maori children in New Zealand, a third were living in poverty and hardship, he said.
Then the hand-wringing bugger went on to throw the government some advice.
He called on the Government to engage with Maori, including children, on an ongoing basis, to collect data on progress and the address barriers within public agencies that prevented Maori children having full enjoyment of their human rights.
But here’s the thing.
Joris’s concerns include kids’ entitlement to an adequate standard of living and to health, education, safety and housing.
According to He Ara Hou: The Pathway Forward, a report (here) released last year –
Just over half of the 200,000 Aotearoa New Zealand children living below the poverty line are Māori and Pasifika.
This means around 100,000 of the Kiwi kids living below the poverty line are not Maori and Pasifika children.
It is preposterous – dammit – to suppose that these impoverished children are somehow enjoying the basic human rights identified by Boris, but those rights are denied to their Maori and Pasifika counterparts.
Here endeth the lesson in race discrimination.
But if we removed the discrimination, Joris would be out of a job and we would need no Maori Affairs select committee.