"Hidden agendas that create racist policies" - Youth advocate

By Taroi Black

NZ delegate to the United Nations Youth Assembly is challenging Youth Minister Peeni Henare to establish a pro-Māori kaupapa driven policy for youth service providers. Youth homelessness among Māori is increasing because the system is ‘racist’.  

Jacqueline Paul who was selected for the UN is an advocate for Lifewise Service Design and Development around youth inclusiveness and helping to develop better pathways, especially for Māori who make up 90% of youth homelessness in Auckland.

She says, the system hasn't changed at all, "If we're not at the table we're on the menu."

Paul attended the inaugural symposium hosted by Manaaki Rangatahi ki Tamaki which is a youth advisory panel that represents the collective youth service providers of Auckland.

The aim of the event is seeking for better outcomes to address youth homelessness and youth housing. Both Minister Henare and Associate Minister for Housing Kris Faafoi took part in the symposium to address some of those issues.

However, change is needed to ensure that rangatahi Māori aren’t faced with a system that continues to fail them, Paul said.

“We can't have people who don't look like us, lead these situations.”

South Auckland based youth service provider Te Kaha o Te Rangatahi advocate Christina Looker admits the system for youth services is corrupt.

Looker told Te Āo Māori News she’s part of three other youth workers travelling throughout the Greater Auckland Region to engage and provide better opportunities for rangatahi Māori.  

“There's hidden agendas that create racist policies,” Looker says.  

But, another problem that has stemmed from the symposium is the lack of data that Paul is wanting the Government to address so that a ‘kaupapa Māori’ policy is achieved.

“If we don't have that evidence, we don't have informed decisions by our politicians to inform decisions around policy.

Hon. Henare responds, “It’s also important to know if you’re a Māori than you’re already on the decline. So we need to make change.