Part 4: Funding and resources

Four initiatives supporting improved outcomes for Māori.

In this Part, we discuss:

We wanted to understand how public organisations had used funding and other resources to deliver these initiatives. We expected that:

  • funding would be allocated and spent as intended;
  • public organisations would have access to people with the right skills and experience to implement the initiatives, including having the capacity and capability to engage effectively with Māori; and
  • public organisations would work with iwi, providers, and other stakeholders to ensure access to other resources as required.

Summary of findings

All four initiatives spent funding for the intended purpose and populations.

All the initiatives make use of the local knowledge and connections of regional staff, and we consider that this has been particularly effective. However, there can be additional pressures on Māori staff that public organisations need to recognise. Public organisations should engage with their Māori staff to understand what support is most appropriate to help manage those pressures. In some cases, this support might include employing dedicated staff.

Iwi and other providers experienced challenges securing the capability and capacity they needed. The relevant public organisations found different ways to address some of these challenges. For example, one public organisation has seconded an advisor to an iwi. We encourage public organisations to continue to find ways of supporting iwi and provider capacity and capability.

Funding has been allocated and spent as intended

By the end of March 2022, 103 contracts had been approved for 76 different He Poutama Rangatahi programmes. Since 2018, about $46.3 million of funding had been paid out to providers and an additional $31.1 million was committed.

Of 7860 rangatahi enrolled in these programmes, 80% were Māori, 77% were not in employment, education, or training when they enrolled,11 and 44% were women.

He Poutama Rangatahi has grown further since it was transferred to the Ministry of Social Development. The Ministry told us that it expects there will only be enough funding for around half of the providers who have currently expressed an interest in running a new programme or renewing an existing contract.

Demand for the Māori Agribusiness Extension Programme (MABx) was greater than expected, and the Ministry for Primary Industries has signed up more clusters than planned. Initially, the Ministry planned to expand MABx from three clusters to nine, but by 30 June 2021 MABx had expanded to 21 clusters. The scheme has since grown to 33 clusters and there are an additional 20 clusters being planned. At the time of writing, about $9.5 million of funding has been committed to the programme.

The Ministry of Education has signed contracts with 13 providers to deliver Te Ahu o te Reo Māori. Each provider receives funding based on the number or participants attending their programmes. The Ministry set a target of 10,000 participants each year. For 2021/22, due to delays getting started, the target was reduced to 7000 participants. The actual number of participants in 2021/22 was 6190.

Whānau Engagement has been rolled out nationwide. Within a year, the Ministry of Education had signed agreements with 80 iwi and Māori organisations to support ākonga and their whānau to achieve their educational goals and aspirations through various pathways and initiatives. The funding has also been used to recruit eight new full-time employees in the Ministry's regional offices to support this work and, in some cases, work directly with whānau.

Staff with local knowledge and connections play a key role

Public organisations have taken different approaches to ensuring that they have access to people with the right skills and experience to lead and implement these initiatives. One thing they have in common, and which in our view has been particularly effective, is making use of the local knowledge and connections of regional staff.

Regional staff are often well-placed to build relationships because of their local knowledge and connections. Local people understand local needs and opportunities. A local person can also visit providers or landowners more easily to see what progress is being made and help resolve issues quickly.

We considered this a strength of the initiatives we looked at. Each of the public organisations had regional staff with existing knowledge, connections, and relationships. In most cases, these staff are Māori. Many of those we spoke to told us that their shared language and whakapapa assisted in building trusting relationships.

Regional staff from the Ministry of Social Development (and previously staff from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) have an important role for He Poutama Rangatahi. This includes drawing on their regional networks to identify potential new providers. In one example, a provider told us that they did not initially think He Poutama Rangatahi was a good fit, but through their relationship with the local advisor they were encouraged to apply and now run a successful programme.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has set up its Māori Agribusiness Directorate as a dedicated team to ensure that its Māori agribusiness programmes, including MABx, can meet the needs of Māori. Many of the directorate's staff are Māori, including its regional staff. The regional staff in particular play a key role in connecting with potential new clusters and managing the relationship between the Ministry and each cluster after they are set up.

The Ministry of Education's regional offices hold the relationships with their local iwi. A few years ago the Ministry introduced a Strategic Advisor Māori role in its regional offices to help strengthen relationships with iwi. There are 15 Strategic Advisors Māori across the Ministry's ten regions. The Strategic Advisors Māori already have strong connections to iwi that they can build on. In one case, an advisor has been seconded to an iwi on a part-time basis, which is helping to build trust and connections.

Māori staff experience additional demands

Employing staff with existing connections to iwi, Māori, and local communities can add significant value. Without these connections the initiatives might not reach as many people. For example, one cluster found out about MABx when a local whānau member, who works for the Ministry for Primary Industries, came to speak to their hapū.

However, we were told that Māori staff can have extra demands placed on them compared with their non-Māori colleagues. This manifested in two ways. One is that Māori staff can experience pressure when there is tension between their iwi and the public organisation they work for. One person told us their employment as a public servant had led to difficult conversations with their whānau when the employee was representing their employer's views, which their whānau disagreed with.

In some cases, Māori staff could have a real or perceived conflict of interest that needs to be appropriately managed.

The other way that these demands can manifest is when a public organisation expects Māori staff to lead tikanga (cultural protocols) on its behalf, such as performing a karakia or opening a meeting, when it is not part of their role description. People can feel that they have to take on these tasks because it helps lift understanding and acceptance of tikanga. Māori staff we spoke with feel that if they do not get involved there is a chance that protocols will be done incorrectly or not at all.

Public organisations need to support their staff in managing tensions and to ensure that contributions are recognised. In some cases, the appropriate response will include employing dedicated staff to lead tikanga in the organisation.

We saw different ways that public organisations are supporting their Māori staff. For example, many staff in the Ministry for Primary Industries' Māori Agribusiness unit are Māori and the team has built tikanga into its day-to-day processes. We heard that this creates a culture that supports and values Māori staff and lifts the capability of all staff in the unit.

In another example, one Ministry of Education regional team supports its Māori staff by considering the potential for conflicts routinely, speaking openly as a team to identify where tensions might occur, and working with staff who might be affected.

The Ministry of Education has also strengthened Māori leadership by appointing Pou Ārahi to the leadership team in each of Te Mahau's business groups. Pou Ārahi give expert advice that is tailored to the specific responsibilities and functions of each group. They work with their respective Hautū (Deputy Secretary) to lift the Māori capability of their teams.

Each situation will be different. Public organisations should start by talking to their Māori staff to understand the pressures they are facing and what can be done to support them. A working environment where staff feel safe to raise potential issues is critical for this.

Recommendation 1
We recommend that the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the Ministry of Education assess the need for additional capability and capacity to better support their Māori staff. This should include engaging with Māori staff to understand the additional demands they might face and working with them to provide appropriate support. In some cases, each Ministry might need additional dedicated staff to lead tikanga or provide expertise in te ao Māori.

All initiatives experienced capability and capacity challenges

The four initiatives are delivered by people and organisations in the community, including iwi. However, iwi and providers have different capacities and capabilities. Some are set up to provide a range of services to their community and have experience contracting with public organisations. Others have limited resources and experience. Some iwi have jointly set up organisations to provide services on their behalf, whereas others use external contractors when needed.

As the public sector and others want to engage more with Māori, iwi and Māori organisations can receive frequent requests for their input and involvement in projects and programmes. This places pressure on their capacity. Public organisations typically have more capacity than iwi, which can create an imbalance in the timeliness, level, and quality of the input iwi are able to provide.

Covid-19 has also affected iwi and provider capacity because they have stepped up to support their communities on Covid-19-related issues, leaving limited capacity for other activities.

He Poutama Rangatahi providers range from small community organisations to much larger providers where supporting rangatahi with employment and other skills is just one part of what they do. Often these providers have limited capacity for additional tasks, including completing an expression of interest for He Poutama Rangatahi. Staff from the public organisations involved in He Poutama Rangatahi told us that some providers need support with this.

The Ministry for Primary Industries told us that there is a shortage of people with the skills to effectively facilitate Māori Agribusiness Extension clusters. A good facilitator is critical and needs to be someone who can bring out the aspirations of the landowners and not impose their own views. Facilitators do not necessarily need to be Māori but do need to be competent facilitating in a kaupapa Māori environment. They also need to have some agribusiness knowledge. There is a limited number of facilitators with this combination of skills.

To build facilitation capability in the community, the Ministry for Primary Industries is using some of the MABx funding to pay for a shadow facilitator role for each cluster. A shadow facilitator is a cluster member who receives training to be able to carry on facilitation work with the cluster and in their community after being part of MABx. Most people we spoke to saw the value in the Ministry investing in growing this capability in communities.

The Ministry of Education has identified provider capacity and capability as a constraint for delivering Te Ahu o te Reo Māori. Providers we spoke to agreed that there are limited numbers of qualified te reo Māori teachers. We were also told that Te Ahu o te Reo Māori risked taking this resource from other parts of the education system, and in particular from other parts of the system supporting ākonga Māori, such as Kura Kaupapa Māori.

The Ministry of Education consulted Māori to provide expertise to its selection of providers for Te Ahu o te Reo Māori. However, providers told us that the procurement process for Te Ahu o te Reo Māori could have been better set up for Māori providers, and in particular providers who are not used to public sector contracting. An internal review in February 2021 also found that the Ministry of Education could do more to modify procurement processes that are too onerous and costly for smaller Māori providers. A simple improvement one provider suggested was for a hui at the start of the process so that the Ministry could explain their expectations and answer questions.

In our view, this highlights the importance of public organisations investing time in building relationships with Māori. We note that the Ministry of Social Development is jointly leading (with Oranga Tamariki) work across government agencies, including the Ministry of Education, to improve the commissioning of social services. This aims to put trusted relationships at the centre of social sector commissioning. There is a plan to implement changes by 2028.

Iwi involvement in Whānau Engagement has placed additional demands on iwi but has also brought benefits. Whānau Engagement has given iwi ways to engage more with local schools and education providers. This could create opportunities for iwi to have more influence over how schools engage with whānau, leading to improved educational outcomes for ākonga Māori.

The Ministry of Education's secondment of one of its Strategic Advisors Māori to an iwi is helping to build iwi capability as well as strengthen the Ministry's relationship with that iwi.

Short contract lengths can create additional challenges

Contract length was a concern for some of the providers we spoke with. Initially, He Poutama Rangatahi contracts were for two years. Contracts for Whānau Engagement vary in length but most are for two years or under.

Uncertainty of funding being available over a longer period can make it harder for providers to recruit people to deliver initiatives, especially if those people would be moving from a more secure position. This issue is not specific to these initiatives, but could affect them more given the shortage of people with the skills needed to work with and deliver programmes to Māori.

To give providers more certainty, the Ministry of Social Development has recently started to introduce three-year contracts for He Poutama Rangatahi. The Ministry is also replacing its current approach of accepting expressions of interest for He Poutama Rangatahi at any time with a fixed annual funding round. This will help manage demand and will also give providers more certainty about timeframes for funding decisions. As part of this change, programmes will come up for renewal on average every three years and existing providers who have shown strong outcomes will be able to access a simpler application process if they wish to reapply.

Participant capacity and capability can be a barrier

A lot of the land involved in MABx is owned through a Māori land trust. These trusts need effective governance to be able to make good decisions about their land. Some Māori trusts are better set up for this than others. We were told that there is a general need to build governance capacity for Māori landowners.

When a Māori land trust takes part in MABx, the trustees need to represent the trust. This can require time and commitment. Trustees also often have other unpaid leadership roles in their community that they carry out in addition to full-time employment.

The Ministry for Primary Industries helps with the burden on landowners by paying someone to provide administrative support. This person is usually one of the cluster members and is paid on a part-time basis. This is a cost Māori land trusts usually have to incur themselves.

There can also be a capacity issue when dealing with Government processes. One cluster member told us they could not have got the funding themselves without support from the Ministry for Primary Industries. They felt that for a lot of funding applications, the Government could make the application requirements more relevant to Māori land. For example, one landowner felt that the application forms wanted unnecessary details to describe their aspirations for their land. In their view, a short whakataukī (proverb) would have been enough, but they felt that Wellington staff would not have understood the meaning just from that. This perception highlights the differences in expectations and mutual understanding that can hinder effective engagement and efficient delivery.

For Te Ahu o te Reo Māori, teachers and other staff can find it difficult to attend all the training sessions. This can be a particular problem for staff in more remote schools, and also for early childhood teachers because they typically finish work late. Some funding is available to help support teachers and other staff attend Te Ahu o te Reo Māori. The funding is available to all participants who were registered and still participating at the halfway point of the course.

Better co-ordination could reduce the burden on iwi and providers

One way that public organisations can reduce the burden on iwi and providers is to ensure that, where practicable, they co-ordinate all their work aimed at supporting improved outcomes for Māori. We heard that some iwi and providers have to manage multiple relationships and funding agreements with public organisations. One Ministry of Education region told us they try to reduce the burden on iwi by combining reporting for each iwi rather than separate reporting for each contract.

Better co-ordination, managed by effective governance, can ensure that different workstreams aimed at supporting improved outcomes for Māori are aligned and reduce any duplication of effort. Effective co-ordination can also provide decision-makers with better information about where funds need to be invested to make the most cost-effective investments.

An internal review in February 2021 by the Ministry of Education's internal audit function recommended that the Ministry improve governance across key initiatives aimed at supporting improved outcomes for Māori to help monitor and prioritise investment more effectively. The Ministry does have some governance of its Māori-focused workstreams in place. This includes a programme board for all the initiatives in the Ministry's Te Uepū Reo Māori, including Te Ahu o te Reo Māori and a governance board for Ka HikitiaKa Hāpaitia | The Māori Education Strategy.

We recognise that, for most public organisations, identifying all of their work to support improved outcomes for Māori will be challenging because much will be integrated in work that has a wider focus. However, we encourage all public organisations to consider how to improve their governance and co-ordination across this work with the intention of reducing the burden on iwi and providers and making informed decisions about where to invest funds.

Recommendation 2
We recommend that the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the Ministry of Education assess how well all their work aimed at supporting improved outcomes for Māori is co-ordinated across the organisation and make any improvements needed to make it easier for iwi to engage with them, avoid duplication across initiatives, and be well placed to make informed decisions about where to invest funds.

Public organisations could provide more opportunities for sharing what they learn

There would be value in providers from around the country meeting to share experiences and learn from each other. Public organisations have provided some opportunities, but providers and facilitators told us they would have liked more opportunities to connect.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has held sessions where facilitators could meet to share their experiences of working with MABx clusters. Ideally these sessions would have been in person, but they had to be moved online due to Covid-19 restrictions. The Ministry told us that sessions had not worked as well as intended in terms of developing a community of practice and providing an opportunity to share knowledge. This was because facilitators engaged with the sessions to differing degrees and attendance began to drop. We understand the Ministry is planning to consider how to support facilitators and ensure the continued quality of facilitation.

There have been opportunities for Te Ahu o te Reo Māori providers to share lessons but these have been limited and not well timed. For example, before they started delivering the training, all providers met and were briefed on lessons from the pilot programme. However, this was after they had completed most of their preparations for the full roll out so they had limited time to make any changes. Providers told us they would have liked more opportunities on an ongoing basis to share their experiences about delivering the programme (for example, to see how others have been dealing with Covid-19-related issues). We understand the Ministry of Education now holds quarterly hui for Te Ahu o te Reo Māori providers to share their experiences and insights of delivering this training and to collaborate on its future.

The Ministry of Education's Strategic Advisors Māori have a regular teleconference where they can share progress on the different ways iwi are implementing Whānau Engagement. Despite this, we heard that more could be done for the Ministry's regional offices to learn from each other by sharing their insights from Whānau Engagement.

11: Some rangatahi who enrol in He Poutama Rangatahi might already be in education, employment, or training but are still at risk of long-term unemployment, for example if they do not have qualifications, are not attending school regularly, or their employment is unstable.