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I do not like Winston Peters or his populist brand of politics. But I have to agree with Keeping Stock — at times he says things no one else would say. And this time he is correct.

New Zealand First Winston Peters is blaming all Maori for the killing of the Kahui twins.Police have decided not to pursue any further charges over the deaths of the three-month-olds.Coroner Garry Evans said their injuries were inflicted while they were in the care of their father Chris, but he was acquitted on murder charges.His lawyer Lorraine Smith says Mr Kahui can now get on with his life, saying he’ll never get over his twins’ deaths.Mr Peters says the whole of Maoridom should be bowing its head in shame.”That’s a serious blight on Maoridom and we have to own up to it. The cone of silence around it led to a lot of uncertainty as to what the evidential facts were and Maoridom’s got to take initiative of that and say ‘this cannot be allowed to go on in the future’.”

Let’s put this into context. These are the risk factors used in the NZ statistical model on child safety

Prevalence of risk factors in New Zealand households with children
April 2010–March 2011

Risk factorPercent
Current cigarette smoker 21
Victim of crime in last 12 months 20
Living in a high deprivation area 20
Feeling isolated some, most, or all of the time 17
Poor mental health 15
Victim of discrimination in last 12 months 12
Low economic standard of living, based on ELSI 11
More than one housing problem10
Living in an overcrowded house9
Limited access to facilities 8
Poor physical health 8
Note: ELSI = economic living standard index
Source: Statistics New Zealand

You can see from the table that about 1 in 5 families have one problem (you can argue about if cigarette smoking should be there, but being a victim of a crime is up at the same level). About 1 in 10 families have two problems. This is New Zealand. We have a very large transfer system. The trouble is that families remain at high risk. Again, from the NZ Statistics site

Figure 1

Households that received benefit income in the last 12 months, by risk group, April 2010–March 2011.

Figure 2

Households that received Domestic Purposes Benefit in the last 12 months, by risk group, April 2010–March 2011.

We now have a problem Being on a benefit is not necessarily bad for you. Bad things need to happen to you to get on a benefit. But some choices matter. Being a sole parent (which I am) increases the risk.

Of households in the high-risk group, about half are sole-parent households. Two-parent-only households dominate the no-risk and low-risk groups, making up 84 percent and 71 percent of each group, respectively. Figure 3 shows the proportion of family types in each risk group.

Figure 3

Household by family type and risk group, April 2010–March 2011.

Sole parents are more likely to have low income compared with two-parent families. This is one reason sole parents are more at risk. However, family structure also plays a role. For households in the bottom two income quintiles, 58 percent of high-risk and just 25 percent of no-risk households are sole-parent households. This compares with two-parent-only households where the relationship is reversed, with 69 percent no-risk and 34 percent high-risk households.

Finally, there is an issue of race. Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, are over represented in the risk groups.

Now the Maori elite have moved away from Christianity (which was almost universal) into neo-pagan syncreticism, leaving behind even the syncrestic cults such as Ratana and Ringatu. There is a culture of entitlement. The consequences for this group are dire. Winston Peters is quite rightly worrked (as are the Pakeha, non Maori leaders of the other parties: Winston is Maori). But it will take the leaders returning to more functional, if nor righteous ways, to stop this.

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