Te Kāhui Tika Tangata New Zealand Human Rights Commission Housing Inquiry Discussion Paper: Understanding Accountability for Māori

The purpose of this discussion paper is to explore and understand what the concept of accountability means for Māori in the context of Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission Housing Inquiry into the provision of rights to a decent home. Accountability was defined as constructive accountability in the first Human Rights Commission 2021 report, which had yet to explore a Te Ao Māori view. The discussion paper on Māori understandings of accountability is intended to form the basis of an approach with Māori partners on accountability specifically in the housing sector. The longer-term aim of the discussion is compliance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the housing sector. Tino rangatiratanga – Māori acting for Māori in matters relevant to Māori – through Māori leadership is fundamental to this discussion.

Te Ao Māori accountability is identified as the long-term effective method of tikanga Māori, which includes clarity of purpose, responsibility, accountability, collective participation, and decision making, and systems of redress. In addition, the customary practice of kawa, which has been a fundamental value at the marae level, may be a helpful concept to identify those aspects of Māori housing that are not negotiable. There is variability amongst hapū/iwi in the practice of tikanga Māori and kawa, which, as applied practice, is generally mutually supportive, integrated into principles and values and context related.

To assist discussion about to whom or where accountability lies, a series of models and corresponding examples of each model are used to identify the current discussion on Māori accountability to Māori, Kāwana (Crown) accountability to Māori, Kāwana accountability to Tangata Tiriti and Māori accountability to Kāwana. Options that respond to Te Tiriti are identified. They include the model developed for the independent Māori Health Authority and further suggestions with different aspects of mutual accountability and self-determination. Sought now is feedback to enhance this discussion. The focus of this exploration is to develop a better understanding of Māori accountability to Māori. Examples of structural governance models and mechanisms that may better enable accountability to Māori at the local, regional, and national level are provided to identify helpful models for the future. Two overseas examples add to this discussion.

The findings are intended to assist in a broader scope of work on accountability in the housing sector:

  • Te Ao Māori accountability is based on tikanga Māori in conjunction with kaupapa, kawa, kaitiakitanga, whakapapa, wairuatanga and mātauranga Māori and is context based.
  • The recognition that the intertwined nature of Te Ao Māori values and principles within which accountability practices sit is fundamental to future decision making for Māori housing. Executive summary
  • Effective methods for ensuring accountability in the Kāwana sphere are needed.
  • Further work is needed on the mechanism that may best operate in the relational sphere between Kāwanatanga and Rangatiratanga, including mutual accountability and its benefits to parties.
  • The more autonomy and responsibility of a department or authority, the higher and more stringent the accountability expectations are likely to be in the public and parliamentary sectors. However, performance in the public sector increases with autonomy.
  • The rights of a decent home may best be advanced for Māori through an independent Māori housing kāhui.

The following are recommendations from this research:

  • Advice is needed from Māori housing leaders, partners, and communities.
  • The relationship between the Crown and Tangata Whenua, which is based on mutual responsibility and accountability, should be a priority to achieve the right to a decent home for Māori.
  • A new independent structure for housing for Māori that would respond to Te Tiriti is recommended.

The barriers to addressing changes are:

  • Kāwana reluctance to share power as indicated by the extended opposition to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • contested histories and lack of a wide public understanding of our colonial history
  • lack of trust of Māori capabilities and accountabilities.

Public information in the form of documentary films and effective communication on the history of te Tiriti and colonisation is recommended.

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