February 19, 2020
Pilot plan to revive Maori community officers
The New Zealand Maori Council intends to bring back Maori community development officers.
Executive director Matthew Tukaki says initially there will be five operating in Te Taitokerau, Tāmaki Makaurau, Te Tairāwhiti, Mataatua and Te Arawa/Tauranga Moana.
They will focus on suicide, mental health, homelessness, and the uplift of Māori children into the care of the state.
He’s in discussions about co-investment with Corrections, the Ministry of Social Development, Justice, Health, Oranga Tamariki and Education.
Many older Māori will remember how effective community officers could be, before their demise with the closing of the Department of Māori Affairs.
"They were a linchpin in communities. They provided support for Māori families who might have been in trouble. They were able to connect them with government programmes and services and provide advice and insight into those same programmes in the local area because the one lesson we all must heed is we can have these big national discussions as much as we want, but it's how they convert into local issues and local challenges," Mr Tukaki says.
The community officers will have powers under the Māori Community Development Act, and they will work alongside Māori wardens who are also under the Act.
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