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More on Maaori legal services

28 September 99

In repsonse to yesterday's update ...

A supporter of the Maori Legal Service, Mr Paora Te Tika, has taken issue with a statement that the service looks set to have its funding re-established.

Mr Te Tika commented that while the Service remained as committed to resolving matters with the Legal Services Board as it had been for the last several months, there were some matters to be clarified. Mr Te Tika particularly felt that recent statements by the Board did not accurately reflect the situation. He outlined these as follows -

1. The money "back-paid" to the Service was in fact a repayment of the Service's own reserves which it had been forced to survive on when the Board suspended its funding. These reserves were subsequently exhausted.

2. The Service had already submitted a "long-term funding application" upon which the Board originally granted funding for the 1999-2000 year. The Board subsequently withdrew funding for reasons which have changed over recent months. They include:-

(a) a Board concern that the Service did not have "standing" or mandate in the Maori community,

(b) a Board concern that the Service's nation-wide mandate did not fit within its concept of a "community",

(c) a Board concern over audit and management requirements, both of which the Service has responded to, and both of which the Service remains willing to have reviewed,

(d) a Board concern over the nature of some of the "Treaty training" undertaken by the Service, a concern expressed by a Board agent (and minuted at a Service meeting) as the fact that the service had "enemies" out to get it.

(e) the Board concern of last week that some particular Service clients might not have fitted the criteria of those to be served by community law centres.

Mr Te Tika said that the changing reasons had caused concern to staff,but the Service had attmepted to deal with each in good faith. In regard to the issue of particular clients, Mr Te Tika said that the Board appeared to be under a misapprehension that all Maori organisations had adequate resources or were entitled to legal aid - this is clearly not the case. He also stated that the Maori community's definition of its needs was clearly different to that of the Board.

The Service understands that the Board will meet on September 28 to consider the latest review proposal from the Service. Mr Te Tika commented that any future funding will depend upon the outcome of that meeting. He also stated that the Service was grateful for the support it had received from around the country, and was heartened that the Parliamentary Maori Affairs Select Committee had now drawn up the terms of reference for its enquiry into the matter.

Link to further information on the funding cuts.

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