Prepared by Dena Ringold, July 2005
with funding from the sponsors of the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy
Dena Ringold is a Senior Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist for Human Development at the World Bank in Washington, DC. She has worked on operations and analysis in the human development sector since 1995. Her research interests include inclusion of minorities in social service delivery, safety nets and governance. In 2002 she wrote the World Bank’s first study on the socioeconomic status of the Roma minority. She holds a MSc with honors in economics and government from the London School of Economics (1995) and a BA with honors from Swarthmore College (1992).
During Dena’s Ian Axford Fellowship exchange to New Zealand she was based at Te Puni Kōkiri (the Ministry of Māori Development) in Wellington, where she researched how policies in New Zealand are designed to close gaps in human development outcomes for Māori while taking into account their unique culture.
Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. They make up a relatively small population – of approximately 620,000 – within a relatively small country. But their contributions in New Zealand, and internationally, are substantial. During my short six-month stay in New Zealand, Māori competed at the Academy Awards, won the US Open golf tournament, rose to the top of the Australian banking sector, and beat the touring British and Irish Lions at rugby.
Beyond the achievements of these extraordinarily talented individuals and teams, Māori as a whole have made impressive gains across the economic, cultural and social spectrum of New Zealand in recent decades. Māori unemployment is, at 8 percent, at a record low; more Māori go to school than ever before; and there has been a cultural renaissance.
But not all Māori are benefiting from these upward trends. Some remain unemployed or in low-wage, unskilled jobs that leave them vulnerable to economic shocks. One third of Māori finish their education without any kind of formal qualifications. Māori remain disproportionately poor, with child poverty a particular concern. Persistent gaps in health status remain. The overall picture shows both increasing diversity and increasing socioeconomic inequality within the Māori population.
The Minister of Māori Affairs, Hon Parekura Horomia, has argued that Māori have a window of opportunity over the next five years to build on the achievements of past decades. Further investments in human capital are needed to raise education and skill levels so that Māori can continue to seize opportunities in New Zealand’s growing, globalised, and knowledge-based economy. Since Māori are fully integrated within the New Zealand economy, their success depends on overall economic conditions. Māori must be well-positioned to move into sustainable jobs provided by existing labour and skills gaps.
Recent approaches to Māori development provide a valuable record of experience and experimentation for policy-makers in New Zealand and other countries. Several key themes have characterized policy developments over the past two decades, including: a desire by Māori to take charge of their own development; an on-going interest in self-determination, autonomy, and involvement in the policies and programmes that affect them; a recognition that policy approaches need to consider the history, culture and position of Māori as the indigenous people of New Zealand; and a need to tackle socioeconomic disparities between Māori and non-Māori.
At the level of policy design and service delivery, New Zealand has sought to calibrate the extent to which policies should be universal, mainstreamed, and applicable to the entire society, and the extent to which they should be targeted to specific populations. These central questions are directly relevant for other countries – developed and developing nations alike – that aim to improve the welfare of their own indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, and vulnerable groups.
Increasingly, the results suggest that both are needed: inclusive policies that reach all New Zealanders, and policies that recognize the cultural distinctness and particular needs of Māori. Te Puni Kokiri’s (the Ministry of Māori Development) new Māori Potential Framework is distinctive for its emphasis on lifting Māori success, rather than ameliorating failure, while at the same time recognizing the culture and aspirations of Māori as individuals and collectives.
Policies can be both targeted, where ethnicity defines an individual’s eligibility to participate in a programme or receive a benefit, and tailored, if they are designed to take into consideration the needs and preferences of specific groups. Ethnic targeting may prove effective in some cases, especially if ethnicity – on its own, or in combination with other factors – provides useful information on how to get resources to those who need them.
But decisions about targeting also need to weigh the potential costs and benefits – fiscal, social, and political. Considerations include the particular objectives of the programme itself, and the availability, quality, and costs of collecting ethnic data. Finally, increasing internal diversity of Māori means that targeting to Māori as a group may not be sufficient for meeting policy objectives, and more nuanced approaches which respond to this increasing diversity may be required.
While few policies in New Zealand are targeted to Māori, significant effort has gone into tailoring policies to Māori, to make them more accessible, effective, and responsive. This has been done through devolution and decentralization of service delivery to communities; the participation of Māori themselves in service delivery and governance; strengthened outreach and communication; and incorporation of Māori culture into service delivery. Lessons from this sort of tailoring can influence further policy development, both in New Zealand and abroad.
The distinction between targeted Māori-focused programmes and mainstream approaches is no longer clear-cut. Separate tailored services are now available, and mainstream services incorporate aspects of tailoring. Getting these endeavours right is crucial as the majority of Māori participate in mainstream services.
Alternative Māori services have influenced mainstream service delivery. The emergence of separate Māori services, such as Māori immersion schools and Māori health providers, has been an important development. These alternative services provide relatively limited coverage (e.g. 80-90 percent of Māori participate in mainstream education and health services), but their impact has been far-reaching. They have given Māori opportunities to develop approaches based on their own priorities and culture, provided examples for mainstream services about incorporating diversity, highlighted the shortcomings of mainstream services, and built the capacity and capability of Māori organisations and service professionals.
Non-Māori benefit from tailoring. Diversification of services has also increased choice for many, both Māori and non-Māori. Non-Māori have also benefited from policy innovations developed by and for Māori, both through accessing these services, and from the ways in which these services have influenced mainstream policy design. More lessons from these approaches can be identified and scaled-up into mainstream services.
Quality is important. Tailoring can improve access. It also has the potential to raise effectiveness and quality. Despite gains, there is still considerable progress to be made in improving outcomes of Māori, and understanding what works in policy design. A greater focus on evaluation of the medium and longer-term outcomes of tailored services would improve policy.
Equity issues require attention. While an improved labour market and greater economic opportunities have increased Māori welfare, not all Māori are benefiting. Services need to be designed to be inclusive and reach Māori who may be poor and excluded. Similarly, while service delivery by iwi and Māori organisations has increased choice and opportunities for some Māori, these services are not evenly distributed, leaving some without access.
Capacity building is needed to make institutions work. Increased opportunities for Māori to participate on boards including those of schools, district health boards, trusts, and other entities have been important. Capacity building is essential for these governance and partnership arrangements to work, and to increase accountability and transparency. Building such capacities takes time.
Political economy issues need managing. As in other countries, issues of targeting and tailoring by ethnicity in New Zealand are politically sensitive. Better information about the actual level of targeted spending, eligibility criteria, and the rationales for targeting and tailoring could improve understanding and acceptance across the population.
The New Zealand experience confirms that good data can influence policy. Efforts to improve the collection of ethnic data have expanded the availability and quality of information regarding Māori, raised awareness of the issues faced by Māori across sectors, and highlighted priority policy areas.
Data Collection and Analysis
Administrative and survey data require more focus on quality and consistency across data sources. In other areas, data gaps persist, particularly regarding poverty, living standards, and expenditures on Māori policies and programmes.
Poverty and living standards. Data on poverty and living standards among Māori in New Zealand are not readily available. The increasing diversity of the Māori population means that policy-makers need data that can capture differences between Māori individuals and groups, inform policy design, and measure policy outcomes.
Expenditures on Māori. New Zealand does not collect aggregate data on spending on Māori programmes and policies by government departments. But such data are important for monitoring the effectiveness of programmes and policies intended to raise outcomes of Māori and other population groups. They are also needed to assess the effectiveness of programmes, perform distributional analyses of public spending, increase transparency, boost accountability, and raise public awareness.
New Zealand needs an ongoing process of evaluating what works. The government has made evaluation of outcomes a priority through the Managing for Outcomes accountability framework. But evaluations are technically difficult, often expensive, and not always well done. There is growing demand from policy-makers, providers, and beneficiaries to know what works and why in improving Māori outcomes.
There is a need to be strategic and selective about evaluation. For reasons of cost-effectiveness and time, it remains impossible to evaluate every small programme. Rather, it will be more valuable to select programmes for evaluation which offer the richest learning for subsequent policy design, group evaluations together, and invest in larger-scale evaluations that allow for comparisons.
In cases where quantitative data is difficult to collect or unreliable, qualitative data can provide useful additional information. Using process evaluations can help policy-makers understand how programmes actually work and monitor longer-term outcomes, as well as provide greater insights into differences within the Māori population.
Māori development approaches provide a compelling record of experience and innovation for New Zealand and other countries with indigenous and ethnic minority populations. Among the most resonant themes are the desire of Māori to succeed on their own terms within an increasingly integrated and globalised world, the challenge of making policies inclusive, the importance of weaving diversity and culture into policy design, and the need to build on successes. We have much to gain from further study, analysis, and discussion of these experiences-Māori and non-Māori alike.
Appendix A: Roma and Māori: Reflections on the Decade of Romna Inclusion and the Hui Taumata 2005
Appendix B: Glossary of Terms
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