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Action Alert - Funding cuts for Nga Kaiwhakamarama

Issued 7 September 1999

Forwarded from Corso ...

Dear friends and colleagues,

Please find attached an Action Alert concerning the moves by the Legal Services Board to close Nga Kaiwhakamarama down. I have been talking to Moana Jackson about getting pakeha and tauiwi support for them to challenge this political agenda.

I hope you and your organisation will feel able to take part in this. If you do write letters please could you also send a copy to: Nga Kaiwhakamarama i Nga Ture

P.O. Box 1268.
fax(04)473 1781

Many thanks,
Suzanne Menzies-Culling
National Co-ordinator

Corso, P.O. Box 1375, Dunedin
ph (03) 477 3395; fax(03) 474 0736

3rd September 1999


Earlier this year Nga Kaiwhakamarama I Nga Ture - The Wellington Maori Legal Service were advised by the Legal Services Board that their funding was to be cut. Nga Kaiwhakmarama asked for the reasons for this as they believed that political pressure had been used on the Legal Services Board.

They had to resort to the Official Information Act, and were eventually sent a copy of a letter from Doug Graham which asked the Board whether the presence of Mr Jackson at Pakaitore (during the occupation) represented accepted legal practice.

Since May, Nga Kaiwhakamarama have been negotiating with the Legal Services Board to have their funding reinstated, and have been responding to each of the Board's concerns. However, each time they have fulfilled the demands and conditions that the Board has made e.g. for management review etc, the goal posts have been continually shifted. Nga Kaiwhakamarama have also undergone a audit by a consultant appointed by the Legal Services Board whose report, we are informed, is full of inaccuracies and lies.

Nga Kaiwhakamarama have now finally been told that there will be no reinstatement of their funding, and have been advised to reduce their service to one non-legal staff person who can wind things up.

At first the LSB refused under the Official Information Act to give reasons for their decision to cut funding. Nga Kaiwhakamarama have since been told that the reason is that the Board does not believe that Nga Kaiwhakamarama have a mandate. The LSB intends to conduct a National Review and will appoint an eminent Maori person to go around the country to check whether Nga Kaiwhakamarama do have a mandate.

Nga Kaiwhakamarama have acted in good faith through all this time and have used their cash reserves in order to continue their service. They were advised by the Board's consultant that once his review was done, funding would be reinstated and their reserves reimbursed. They have now discovered that this will not happen and of course they no longer have the ability to pay staff holiday pay or redundancies because their reserves have been exhausted.

We realise that the work of Nga Kaiwhakamarama over the years has been a challenge and a threat to pakeha hegemony. It appears that the LSB are hoping to withdraw Nga Kaiwhakamarama's funding with Maoridom's approval, once they have done their "National Review".

This Action Alert is to ask for you and /or you organisation to write letters of support for Nga Kaiwhakamarama's work . This is the first part of their strategy.

In your letters please make the point that:

a)There is still a need for a National Maori Law Centre that will serve broader Maori legal needs;

b)That the community served by Nga Kaiwhakamarama is nationwide - pakeha should not be able to restrict "community" to their understanding of geographical iwi boundaries.

c) and any other statements of support you may wish to make.

As you will appreciate, it is urgent that these letters be sent in the next week so that the disruption to Nga Kaiwhakamarama's work can be minimised. It is also very important that the letter be Cc. to the Presiding Member , as he personally seems very keen to close Nga Kaiwhakamarama down and needs to be made aware of the huge support there is for the work of Nga Kaiwhakmarama and for their staff.

Please feel free to pass this letter on to others who you know will take some action.

Address your letters to : The Chief Executive
Legal Services Board
P.O.Box 5333.

ALSO Cc. Your letters to:- The Presiding Member,
Legal Services Board
Stephen O'Driscoll.
O'Driscoll & Marks
P.O. Box 639

In solidarity for a just and peaceful world.
Suzanne Menzies-Culling
National Co-ordinator.

Link to further information on Aotearoa / Indigenous rights

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