Te Ao Māori

Local Democracy Reporting

Paltry payouts as bids surge for new council Māori fund

Tue, Jun 6
Work towards realising Ngāti te Whiti's waterfront marae was one of the Whanake Grant applications that came up well short.

A new fund to boost community grants for Māori in New Plymouth has left most applicants short-changed after scant council dollars were doled out evenly between bidders.

The Whanake Grant was set up after New Plymouth District Council staff found just 2% of grant applications for were for Māori projects – despite 20% of residents being Māori.

In response the council ring-fenced $20,000 of the $600,000 community grants budget for projects that help achieve iwi, hapū and whānau aspirations.

NPDC’s community partnerships lead Callum Williamson says Whanake – which means to rise or develop – has been “overly successful and therefore oversubscribed”.

He told the council’s Te Huinga Taumatua committee five eligible applications totalling $105,025 were made to the $20,000 fund.

The committee voted to split the fund equally into $4000 grants.

Te Kawa o Rongo will spend its on lifejackets, flares and a locator beacon to take boys aged 10 to 17 to sea in waka ama safely.

Mentor Brendon Rei said its marae-immersion camps connect up to 30 rangatahi at a time with their cultural identity through traditional practices and nature-based activities.

“Research indicates that a lot of our intergenerational trauma is in part [because] our people have forgotten who they are, so we’re reconnecting these boys with who they are.”

Male Survivors of Taranaki also got 80% of their $5000 bid for work with men who were sexually abused.

Manager Mike Subritzky said it would extend the hours of peer supporter Trevor Barrett in Waitara beyond his one day a week.

“We don’t do 12-week programmes, 8-week programmes, we don’t file them through… the relationships that we hold are life-long.”

But the other three Whanake applicants fell well short of bids up to $50,000:

• Ngāti Mutunga sought $25,000 towards a 3D laser-scanning drone survey of four wāhi tapu which would be made available to iwi members and used for education, especially for those living outside the rohe;

• Ngāti te Whiti hapū wanted $30,000 for operational costs as its Whenua Tōpu Trust develops a long-awaited $15 million marae in the city;

• Puketapu hapū applied for $50,000 to help employ two staff to deal with escalating resource consent demands.

The costs of responding to resource consent applications is an ongoing sore point, as laws demand more say for hapū and iwi, but funding remains meagre.

The manager of Ngā Kaitiaki o Puketapu Hapū, Kelly Moeahu, said the hapū spent 300 hours on 49 consent applications in 2022. Already this year another 43 applications have swallowed over 250 hours.

Moeahu and the sole other hapū employee shoulder 70 percent of the work, with unpaid trustees handling the rest.

He said the unsustainable load was growing with coming works on the coastal walkway, the Bell Block to Waitara highway, and the airport – as well as new residential subdivisions.

“Our capacity is very limited which unfortunately means that the timeframes in terms of our responses are a lot longer. We don’t want to halt progress, but we are stagnated by our capacity at the moment.”

Te Huinga Taumatua’s Ngāti Mutunga rep Gina MacDonald asked if there were ways outside of the Whanake Grant to pay the “considerable cost” of work hapū were “obliged to complete for council”.

Mayor Neil Holdom said the council was moving to ensure fees cover expenses for iwi and hapū, but it was difficult with ongoing resource management law reform.

“It’s a beast… It’s kind’ve trying to build an aeroplane in mid-flight.”

Williamson said Whanake was already set for the next financial year but could be increased at the next long term plan review.

Meanwhile staff would help iwi and hapū apply to other funding pools within 2023-24’s $750,000 grants budget.

In the last financial year Māori made zero applications to the council’s Strategic Partnerships Grant or Community Services and Programmes Grant.

Holdom said community funding applications typically ran at three dollars for every dollar available.

By Craig Ashworth, Local Democracy Reporter

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


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