Part 2: Māori Language Strategy co-ordination by Te Puni Kōkiri

Implementing the Māori Language Strategy.

In this Part, we:

  • provide a summary of the Strategy’s requirements for co-ordination and monitoring of the lead agencies’ progress in creating and implementing their Strategy plans;
  • describe the implementation plan prepared by TPK;
  • present our findings on the extent to which TPK (as the lead agency responsible for Strategy co-ordination) fulfilled the Strategy’s requirements; and
  • discuss the quality of TPK’s reporting to the Minister of Māori Affairs.

Māori Language Strategy requirements

The Strategy requires TPK to co-ordinate and support Strategy activities across the lead agencies, including monitoring the lead agencies’ development and delivery of their Strategy plans or planning.

As part of approving the Strategy, Cabinet directed TPK to carry out its co-ordination and support role through:

  • convening a standing committee of officials from each of the lead agencies; and
  • creating memoranda of understanding between TPK, Te Taura Whiri, and other agencies, whereby TPK would monitor and offer advice on lead agencies’ development and delivery of the implementation plans, and Te Taura Whiri would provide linguistic advice.

Te Puni Kōkiri’s implementation plan

TPK created a draft Strategy implementation plan by 30 June 2004, showing how it would fulfil its co-ordination, monitoring, and evaluation roles.

The draft implementation plan contained all the elements required by the Strategy, including a clear rationale for the work TPK planned to do, clear outcomes and activities, and a timeline for doing the planned activities. However, the plan was not finalised, and some elements lacked detail. For example, the draft plan stated that TPK would monitor its progress against its activity timeline, and use the other lead agencies to ensure transparency and quality in the delivery of its outcomes, but did not say how.

TPK’s draft implementation plan contained two five-year outcomes:

  • by 2008, all government Māori language policies and initiatives would have a clear rationale centred on the Strategy; and
  • by 2008, all Māori language policy would be appropriately co-ordinated to ensure a whole-of-government approach to Māori language revitalisation.

Our findings

We examined TPK’s performance in co-ordinating the Strategy and monitoring the lead agencies’ creation and implementation of their Strategy plans. We assessed TPK’s performance against the outcomes, activities, and timelines set out in TPK’s draft implementation plan.

Overall, we found that TPK’s performance of its co-ordination and support role was variable. The initial co-ordination and support offered to lead agencies was not appropriately targeted to effectively address the challenges faced by each agency, and by the lead agency group as a whole. From mid-2004 to early 2005, TPK did little Strategy-related work, partly because of staffing changes. There was little contact between TPK and lead agencies during this time.

Since early 2005, TPK’s performance has improved. TPK is now actively fulfilling its co-ordination and support role, and the lead agencies have made progress towards achieving TPK’s five-year outcomes.

Co-ordination and support until March 2005

TPK created mechanisms to co-ordinate a whole-of-government approach and support lead agencies in writing implementation plans. In 2003, TPK convened an Officials’ Committee Māori Language Strategy (OCMLS), intended to meet every two months, and a Chief Executive Forum, intended to meet every six months.

The OCMLS met a number of times between September 2003 and May 2004, but then did not meet again until May 2005. This year-long gap between OCMLS meetings and the variability of some lead agencies’ attendance until 2005 reflects a lack of commitment from some lead agencies, including TPK as the convenor. TPK agrees that the OCMLS was not an effective working group during its initial meetings, and that TPK was responsible for providing better leadership in this area. The Chief Executive Forum ceased to meet after two meetings.

Without regular OCMLS meetings backed up by the Chief Executive Forum, TPK lacked an important way to promote whole-of-government co-ordination and cooperation.

In addition to convening the OCMLS and the Chief Executive Forum, TPK also carried out other co-ordination and support activities. These included meetings with individual agencies, providing a guidance document outlining Strategy planning requirements, providing written comments on draft Strategy plans, and compiling an inventory of government spending on Māori language services.

Memoranda of understanding between TPK, Te Taura Whiri, and the other lead agencies were not completed.

TPK initially underestimated the work needed for lead agencies to complete Strategy implementation plans, and overestimated its own ability to assist lead agencies in this task. TPK also overestimated lead agencies’ understanding of, and commitment to, the Strategy. In particular, TPK did not consider the time and support needed for lead agencies to identify, liaise with, and influence stakeholders in their area to gain sector-wide engagement with the Strategy. TPK agrees that it could have targeted its initial support and feedback more effectively.

In an April 2004 briefing to the Minister of Māori Affairs, TPK stated that some lead agencies were struggling to fulfil their responsibilities under the Strategy, but advised that “all agencies are on target to complete their [implementation] plans by the 30 June 2004 deadline”. However, one lead agency had advised TPK in February 2004 that its plan would not be completed and finalised before the deadline. Although lead agencies had prepared draft implementation plans, none of the agencies completed and finalised a Strategy implementation plan by 30 June 2004. We note that, as TPK has no way to hold lead agencies accountable for meeting deadlines, or to compel them to take action to meet deadlines, there have been no consequences for the lead agencies for not completing their plans by the 30 June 2004 deadline.

During the period mid-2004 to early 2005, TPK did not actively co-ordinate and monitor the implementation of the Strategy. TPK agrees that there was little focus on the Strategy during this period. The hiatus in TPK’s engagement led to a loss of momentum among the other lead agencies.

Co-ordination and support since March 2005

In early 2005, TPK started to re-engage with the other lead agencies. TPK met with lead agencies to gauge progress and continues to hold one-to-one meetings. The OCMLS met regularly and TPK moved towards making these meetings more focused, with a workshop-type approach. The Chief Executive Forum met again in late 2006. Terms of Reference for the OCMLS and the Chief Executive Forum were signed in 2007. Lead agencies told us the volume and usefulness of their contact with TPK about the Strategy had improved since 2005.

Over time, TPK’s view of what is an acceptable response to the Strategy’s planning requirements has become more flexible. Since mid-2005, when it became clear that lead agencies were still struggling to create stand-alone implementation plans, TPK has focused on agencies fulfilling the requirements through other planning mechanisms − for example, including Strategy outcomes in their Statements of Intent rather than necessarily through stand-alone plans. TPK also now sees Strategy planning as ongoing, especially for agencies for which Māori language activities are not a primary focus.

TPK’s co-ordination and support role is crucial to the success of the Strategy. TPK must carry out this role consistently, and with a full understanding of individual lead agencies’ challenges, for the Strategy to succeed. In addition, fully achieving TPK’s two 2008 outcomes will need sustained commitment to the Strategy and timely action by all lead agencies, including TPK, in the next few months leading up to the deadline.

Quality of reporting to the Minister of Māori Affairs

TPK’s April 2004 briefing to the Minister of Māori Affairs stating that all lead agencies were on target to complete their implementation plans by 30 June 2004 was an unrealistic assessment, and showed TPK’s lack of appreciation of how much work was required to complete the plans. We did not see any later explanation to the Minister about why the lead agencies had not completed and finalised their plans by the deadline.

We also looked at the 2005 and 2006 end-of-year updates for the Minister. Both stated that lead agencies were making progress, but did not provide specific information on each agency’s progress. The 2006 report provided little information about the nature of the progress made since the previous year, although it did identify new initiatives and areas for further development. End-of-year and other updates need to provide the Minister with a more detailed account of progress by each agency and across the Strategy as a whole, for TPK to comply fully with its responsibility to monitor the progress of lead agencies and the implementation of the Strategy overall.

Recommendation 1
We recommend that Te Puni Kōkiri ensure that its briefings to the Minister of Māori Affairs contain more detailed assessments of progress in implementing the Māori Language Strategy.

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