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Local Māori development and government policies.

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Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, ,

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This article explores the critical role of identity and history in shaping Māori development policy.

Kawharu conducts a thorough exploration of community-based priorities, particularly in the context of socioeconomic development, and contrasts these with government-initiated and implemented programmes. A significant argument presented is that many of the major gaps in areas such as education, health, housing, justice, and employment are rooted in historical contexts. These gaps are not only evident in cross-cultural statistical analyses but also in areas that are less represented in such analyses and often overlooked by official entities. Furthermore, the article emphasises the fundamental importance of cultural principles in maintaining individual and group identity, which are crucial for socio-economic and political survival. It highlights that some of these gaps are measured internally within the Māori community, focusing on the aspect of cultural vitality. The author argues for the necessity of a nuanced understanding of these cultural principles to ensure their legitimacy and to enhance the rigor of development programmes. This involves a careful consideration of different meanings and identifying which dimensions are most relevant to specific policies aimed at closing these gaps. The article concludes by underscoring the essential nature of history and identity in community development policies. It stresses the importance of establishing a clear connection between analysis, policy, and practice to effectively address the needs and aspirations of the Māori community as addressing certain disparities requires a thorough analysis of the social, cultural, and economic needs specific to each community.

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