Part 1: Introduction

Four initiatives supporting improved outcomes for Māori.

In this Part, we discuss:

Supporting improved outcomes for Māori is a priority for the Government. The Government has made changes in recent years to strengthen the public sector's ability to partner with Māori, along with a series of targeted initiatives and funding.

These changes include setting up Te Arawhiti | The Office for Māori Crown Relations in 2018. This new departmental agency was set up by the Government to support Māori Crown relationships and help build public sector capability to engage with Māori.

Then, in 2019, the Government set new expectations for Te Puni Kōkiri to better implement its core role of promoting increases in levels of Māori well-being. Equitable and effective public sector performance for Māori is now one of Te Puni Kōkiri's three strategic priorities. As part of this, Te Puni Kōkiri is increasing its use of data and analytics to monitor how well public services serve Māori as both citizens and whānau.

In its first Wellbeing Budget in 2019, the Government made targeted support for Māori aspirations one of its top priorities. The Government has made significant funding commitments for Māori in subsequent Budgets, including over $900 million in 2020 and more than $1 billion in both 2021 and 2022.

The Government's commitment to improving services and outcomes for Māori was recognised in the Public Service Act 2020. The Act places explicit responsibilities on public service leaders to develop and maintain the public service's capability to engage with Māori and understand Māori perspectives.

Why we carried out this audit

We carried out this performance audit to provide more transparency for Government initiatives supporting improved outcomes for Māori. We also wanted to provide a better understanding of the results that are being achieved, including assurance that public organisations have spent the allocated funding and implemented initiatives in the way the Government intended.

We have seen from our previous work on specific areas of Government spending that it can be difficult to see where funding for individual initiatives has been allocated, how much has been spent, and what has been achieved with that spending.

We also wanted to highlight what public organisations are doing well, understand the challenges they face in delivering these types of initiatives, and identify practices that could improve.

What we looked at

We looked at four initiatives that have received new or increased funding since 2018 and that are designed to be mainly or only for Māori. We were interested to know whether the public organisation administering each initiative was clear about the impacts and outcomes it was working to achieve. We also wanted to know what arrangements were in place to monitor and report whether those impacts and outcomes would be achieved over time.

The four initiatives we selected are:

  • He Poutama Rangatahi, which is administered by the Ministry of Social Development;
  • the Māori Agribusiness Extension Programme (MABx), which is administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries;
  • Te Ahu o te Reo Māori; and
  • Whānau Engagement.

Both Te Ahu o te Reo Māori and Whānau Engagement are administered by the Ministry of Education.

We describe each initiative in Part 2.

Our audit question was: "How effective are the arrangements that public organisations put in place to deliver initiatives aimed at supporting improved outcomes for Māori?". We identified three lines of inquiry:

  • How effectively have public organisations planned and set up work to deliver priority initiatives aimed at supporting improved outcomes for Māori?
  • How well have public organisations used funding and other resources to deliver initiatives aimed at supporting improved outcomes for Māori?
  • How well positioned are public organisations to monitor expected results for initiatives aimed at supporting improved outcomes for Māori and what has been achieved to date?

What we did not look at

We did not look at the procurement of service providers involved in the initiatives, nor the performance of those providers. We also did not examine the business cases, including any cost/benefit analysis for the initiatives.

How we carried out this work

In carrying out our work, we spoke with:

  • providers who were contracted to deliver services for each of the initiatives. These providers were based in the Waikato, Tairāwhiti, Hawke's Bay, Manawatū-Whanganui, Wellington, and Canterbury regions. Many providers were closely associated with iwi in those places;
  • staff from the public organisations administering the initiatives (the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the Ministry of Education), at both national and regional offices. We also spoke to staff from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment because it was responsible for establishing He Poutama Rangatahi; and
  • expert advisors and landowners (in the case of MABx).

We also analysed relevant documents including strategies, plans, briefings, and reports.

Covid-19 affected our audit fieldwork. Restrictions from Covid-19 alert levels meant that we were not able to visit iwi, Māori landowners, and providers in person and instead spoke with them online. We would like to thank all those we spoke to for their willingness to speak with us in this way and for openly sharing their experiences of working with public organisations to deliver these initiatives.

Structure of this report

In Part 2 we describe the four initiatives that we looked at.

In Part 3 we discuss the purpose and design of the four initiatives.

In Part 4 we discuss how the funding for each initiative was used and the capability and capacity challenges that each initiative faced.

In Part 5 we discuss how well-placed public organisations are to monitor and report on what they have achieved with these initiatives.