The PSA is deeply disappointed by the threat from new Public Services Minister Nicola Willis to remove allowances recognising competency in Te Reo across the public sector.
“We will resist any backtracking on the progress we have made in recognising the legitimate aspirations of Māori and honouring Te Tiriti including the use of Te Reo,” said Marcia Puru Acting Te Kaihautū Māori for the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi.
“We are incredibly disappointed that one of the first public comments from the new Minister for the Public Service should be to attack these allowances which are deeply embedded in the public service. How is that a priority?
“Nicola Willis deliberately mislabels the allowances as ‘bonuses’ when in fact they are simply recognising skills and competency. To not reward people for having these skills is just ludicrous when this is exactly how the private sector operates.
“Thousands of New Zealanders every day are learning the beautiful language of Te Reo so it’s hard to understand why Ms Willis has taken this stance beyond some misguided attempt to save money.
“It is simply divisive and shows how out of touch this new Government appears to be so early on its tenure.”
The allowances are in collective employment agreements across the public sector, some dating back decades. They recognise the importance of Te Reo as an official language and underscores the commitment of successive governments to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
“Ms Willis talks about driving ‘better delivery and performance in the public service’ – we agree, and competency in Te Reo is part and parcel of ensuring public service workers understand the needs of Māori so they can do better at delivering to them.
“Te Reo is not just a language, it represents a Māori world view that is helping the public service every day to solve some of the complex challenges we face as a country – good for Māori and non-Māori,” said Marcia Puru.
PSA National Secretary Kerry Davies said, “We urge Nicola Willis to take a breath and concentrate on what really matters – investing in our public service so the Government can do better at delivering the services New Zealanders need.
“The Government seems to want to reduce people’s pay and conditions with this attack on Te Reo and the repeal of Fair Pay Agreements. We need to be building skills not denigrating skills and competence.
“Instead we have a government hell bent on cutting public services to fund tax cuts without thinking through the consequences of its actions.
“We also support Kīngi Tūheitia’s call today for a national hui for unity. This is a welcome positive step so we can debate the policies of the new Goverment which threaten the progress we have made in honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” said Kerry Davies.