Finding new Māori Language Commission member proves difficult

By Maiki Sherman

The Māori Language Commission recently appointed a new board member but attempts to find a new chief executive haven't been successful.

The issue has escalated to parliament with New Zealand First MP Pita Paraone calling on the Māori Development Minister to intervene.

From the competition stage to the classroom and the playground, the Māori language is certainly strengthening.  However, who is at the helm promoting the use of the language? Also, who will be the next head of the Māori Language Commission?

Pita Paraone says, “We are looking for someone who is well versed in the Māori language and has good governance experience.”

The skills required are certainly clear but the problem, according to former Māori Language Commission chief executive Pita Paraone is the salary cap on the role.

“We know there are people out there but the salary limitation means they aren't interested in the position.”

“The issue was raised by the Māori Language Commission before the Māori Affairs Select Committee. Currently, the salary for Chief Executive is capped at $200,000. He wants to raise that to $250,000,” says Paraone.

Peeni Henare says, “If we want to recruit someone with the right set of skills to undertake the major task regarding our Māori language then we need to pay accordingly. That is the real challenge, to pay the CE of the MLC the same as any other government department CE.”

The State Services Commission is responsible for setting the salary cap for the MLC's Chief Executive position.

It has offered to provide assistance in the recruitment process for a new Chief Executive. However, it also says the salary cap is determined by a range of factors including the level of statutory responsibility, budget responsibility and complexity of the role.

Despite those factors, Pita Paraone says the Minister of Māori Development needs to step in and settle the issue amicably. However, Te Ururoa Flavell says it isn't his battle and should be left to the hopeful candidate.

“If someone is able to draw the State Services Commission out in terms of the salary request then good on them. That is the beauty of pay negotiations which can be deliberated once the MLC has chosen its favoured candidate,” says Flavell.

There's certainly a big job ahead of the successful applicant, not only regarding the Māori language but first their pay packet.