Concern grows over proposed new plan for Te Puni Kōkiri

By Maiki Sherman
  • Wellington

There's increasing concern regarding a proposed new plan for Te Puni Kōkiri which would see its number of employment positions decrease by 74, including the closure of two regional offices in the South Island.

Te Kāea first reported the details yesterday and although it's still just a proposal at this stage, concerns have well and truly set in.     

Jeff Haynes has spent the past 24 years working at Te Puni Kōkiri, he's the sole staff member in the Blenheim office. An office which is set to close if a new plan goes ahead.

Under the new proposal, Te Puni Kōkiri's Invercargill office will also close. According to Michael Skerrit, chairman of Te Rūnanga o Waihopai, it's his community such as those from Murihiku Marae who will be directly impacted.

Under the old model, there were 366 positions.

Under the new plan, there would be 292.

Currently, there are 80 positions already vacant.

It's understood more than half of all staff will have their positions disestablished and new roles will be created, of which those staff will be able to reapply.

The move to refocus Te Puni Kōkiri was initiated by the Minister of Māori Affairs, Pita Sharples, two years ago. Today he said that in past years TPK was focusing its energy on a variety of issues and it was time that focus was refined. 

However, Nanaia Mahuta says a refocus is only needed at the head office in Wellington, not out in the regions.

However those in the regions say it's not that easy.

Te Puni Kōkiri says a final decision will be made by the end of August.