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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Collective keeps culture alive in Auckland



One of the first things Lolohea Tupouniua and her husband Sitili did when they moved to Auckland in 2003 is build a falehanga in the back garden of their family’s Mount Roskill home.
That’s a women’s space. It’s where Lolohea sits with many of her 15 grandchildren and other relatives a couple of times a month passing on the skills and customs around making tapa, or as it is called in Tonga, ngatu.
In the garden is a hiapo, the mulberry tree whose bark is peeled and beaten with four-sided mallets into a strong paper.
Sitili, a former mayor of Nukualofa and MP who now ministers a branch of the Free Constitutional Church of Tonga, wants to see if the trees will grow in Auckland’s climate.
Until some local source can be found, collectives like the Tupouniua’s Fahina Group must get the raw material from relatives back in Tonga as ‘opo’opo, white sheets about 50 centimetres square. They then koko’anga or felt them together to make the large tapa that are then painted on with juice extracted from the bark of the koka tree.
Lolohea has various traditional patterns she teaches, such as a chevron used in the king’s houses or markings for individual chiefs, but there is also scope for the makers to add their own designs.
“We have the patterns and the meaning of patterns. As a girl I learned it from my mum. The main work of women was making tapa and weaving,” she says.
Tapa and fine mats are the fabrics underpinning the social fabric of Tongan life, wherever they live.
They are an important part of funerals. They are given at birthdays and wedding. When a bride gets married, she is expected to have a large ngatu as part of the bedding in her dowry.
Tapa is used for dance costumes, such as the robes the young men wear for the ma’e tu’u paki or paddle dance.
Lolohea’s granddaughter Lauren says since her grandparents moved over, the family has been bound more tightly together, with the sessions in the falehanga a big part of that.
“You not only get familiar with the customs but with the Tongan language as well, because the majority of us grandkids are kiwi born and bred,” Lauren says.
She spent time as a child back in Tonga and remembers her great grandmother leading similar sessions.
“I guess it’s a way of staying in touch with loved ones who have passed, because as you do it you recall memories and you talk about it. You would not normally do that over a cup of tea.”
The family’s ngatu production, and the weavings it makes, all find a home within the group or within their church and school commitments, although some collectives have started producing tapa for sale.
The Fahina Group has held public demonstrations of tapa making, and Sitili is seeking funding for lessons to teach New Zealand-based Tongans how to make traditional crafts like lei and costume elements.
“We want to help them learn and carry on with what their parents and grandparents were doing,” he says.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ART HOUSE

Published Metro magazine September 2011


Suspended high up in the atrium of the reopened Auckland City Art Gallery, a sculpture of a giant bunch of flowers welcomes visitors into the expanded space.
It’s a wonderful bouquet, but has the gallery earned it? What can we expect from this leasing art institution in the months and years ahead?

Before the main gallery closed three years ago for the rebuild, the Auckland Art Gallery was struggling.
Some artists, gallery owners, former staff and other members of the arts community believed the organisation lacked a coherent strategy.
Some artists and educators said it had become irrelevant to their needs. There was a litany of missed opportunities. A Bill Hammond retrospective was declined, and so was a show by the great German conceptualist Joseph Beuys.
The main complaints were of a failure by the gallery to engage and communicate.
It’s there in the numbers. Even before the main gallery closed, the place was averaging just 190,000 visitors a year.
In contrast, over the past year 130,000 people have trekked out to the Pah Homestead in Hillsborough to see exhibitions drawn mainly from James Wallace’s collection of New Zealand art.
The two brief showings from New York hedge fund billionaire Julian Robertson’s “promised gift” of paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Dali and other masters have been the ACAG’s biggest draws. They attracted 1000 people a day during the month in 2006 when they were first on display and 1400 a day during a one-week hang of five works in 2009.
The next best draws were the Rita Angus retrospective toured from Te Papa which drew 450 people a day, and the Colin McCahon: A Question of Faith show back in 2003, which drew 400 people a day after its return from the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Both those shows were free, which highlights the problem that the gallery, and more particularly the New Gallery which is now closing, was saddled with for many other shows – a 1980s-style policy that people needed to be charged or they wouldn’t value the art.
Most shows have drawn fewer than 200 people a day, and the Walters Prize, which is supposed to be a biannual snapshot of the best in New Zealand contemporary art, gets a risible 70 people a day through the door.

A lot has changed since the scaffolding went up.
There is 50 percent more exhibition space, as well as workshop and storage areas, labs and administration offices that are planned out rather than shoved into any available space.
The heritage buildings on the site and the new construction have been integrated into three levels, rather than seven, which has meant floating the floor of the East Gallery a metre and a half above the original plate.
A tour of the collection can now be done as a series of loops, including a rooftop promenade and coffee kiosk, instead of dead-ending in spaces that didn’t lead anywhere.
And rather than director Chris Saines reporting to senior management of the old Auckland City Council, the gallery is now under Regional Facilities Auckland.
Sir Don McKinnon, chairman of the council-controlled organisation, acknowledges there may have been criticism of the gallery in the past but “we start with a clean sheet”.
“Let’s work on the basis the board is expecting the gallery management to be outward looking and outwardly engaged.
“We will give Chris Saines breathing space after the opening to clear his mind and then look at ways to actively engage.”
The gallery is opening with more than 800 works from the almost 15,000 in its collection, as well as a two-month run of all 15 works in Robertson’s promised gift.
That programme, which was planned to get around any scheduling difficulties that might have arisen by delays in the construction schedule, gives the public a chance to acquaint or reacquaint themselves with the gallery’s collections.
The future programme hasn’t been revealed, although McKinnon says the board has been asked to support hosting a large traveling show next year.
So what does this “world-class public art gallery” that will “transform the cultural heart of our city” – as the gallery describes it - look like.

The entry is impressive. Instead of the previous crabwise shuffle into the corner of the building, visitors now cross a generous space fronting on to Kitchener St.
At the top of the kauri-clad columns holding up the porch are new sculptures by Arnold Wilson, one of the original Maori modernists and still going strong in his 80s.
The ground floor galleries tell the story of New Zealand art history through its collection, from early 21st century works back to early colonial and even pre-European times.
Themes and references are picked out. Harsh light landscape paintings by Brent Wong, Don Binney and Robin White and a Lawrence Aberhart photograph hang together, Pat Hanly and Rob Ellis rub painterly shoulders, and works by Gordon Walters, Fred Graham and Theo Schoon, all derived from koru and kowhaiwhai patterning, stand side by side.
With Maori curator Ngahiraka Mason on board, the gallery has sought to build up a significant collection of Maori modernists.
It has bought early works from artists like Graham, Wilson and Para Matchitt, and is now showing them as part of the main current of New Zealand modernism rather than being off to the side where Maori artists, with the exception of Ralph Hotere, have tended to be placed.
The gallery has large holdings of work by several significant painters, including McCahon, Walters and Francis Hodgkins.
The original plan for the New Gallery was for there always to be McCahons on show, but this fell away after a few years. This is going to be fixed.
“We have the space now to ensure that artists like McCahon and Walters are not on occasional display but are constantly at the forefront of what the gallery shows,” says Saines.
There is also a permanent space for the Goldie and Lindauer paintings the gallery counts as a drawcard for international visitors.
The gallery is using the opening to rehang some of its benefactor collections, starting with most of the 53 works gifted in 1885 by former Governor and Premier Sir George Grey, including the Henry Fuseli painting that formed the start of the gallery’s internationally-important collection of the Swiss-British artist’s work.
Curator Mary Kissler has put together an exhibition showcasing the wealth of international material from the Mackelvie Trust, such as the Guido Reni Saint Sebastian.
So, from the collection, that’s the great Maori moderns, other New Zealand greats, international highlights and some of the collection’s themes, all getting a renewed commitment to their presentation.
But what about the contemporary art – the new stuff?

Upstairs in the new space opening onto Albert Park is what Saines describes as the only gallery space in the country that will be dedicated to changing exhibitions of international contemporary art.
While there are a couple of recently-done works in the first bay, around the corner is a set of 50-year old prints by Eduardo Paolozzi, an Ed Ruscha painting from the mid-1980s, a row of Jim Dine cast aluminium flowers - hardly contemporary.
“There are undoubtedly modern things that are part of the story of contemporary art,” says Saines.
“There are absolutely contemporary works and a few earlier works but let’s take some latitude here. Our collection is what it is, we do not have hundreds of contemporary international works.
“We are not a museum of contemporary art. That is not our exclusive remit.”
The Auckland Gallery holds collections that cover an incredibly broad cross-section of the history of art, from the 15th century t the 21st, as well as the country’s largest New Zealand collection. And therefore it faces one of the biggest questions for any public gallery or museum with a collection: how does it manage its collection so it doesn’t get trapped in the past and can move forward? This underlies other questions: what should the gallery show, for example, and what should it buy?
Saines can point to a number of works commissioned for the reopening that might suggest they have the matter in hand, yet it is hard to see how the gallery has really approached the complex and confusing world of contemporary art in a way that serves the people of Auckland.
Tim Walker, a former director of Lower Hutt’s Dowse Gallery, says while the Auckland gallery describes itself as “world class”, a better option may be to seek to be “globally relevant”.
In that light, he describes the new building as “looking like a really good Australian gallery … circa 1983”.
He means there’s a sense of catch-up around the rebuilding project, and playing catch-up isn’t a game Auckland can win.
The market for good modern and contemporary works is such that a New Zealand gallery will struggle to compete against much-better-heeled trophy hunters.
Barring pieces of luck, like endowments or a billionaire falling out with his New York neighbours, the gallery is not going to get the items it may be wanting.
The alternative would be to focus on what it can access, art of New Zealand and the Pacific.
That’s what being globally relevant means: identifying potential strengths or unique advantages and pursuing them.
What better place to showcase Auckland artists, New Zealand artists, Maori artists, Pacific artists, putting them in context and giving the public a chance to see the way the culture is evolving.
While Ngahiraka Mason is continuing with the project kicked off in the 1980s by Alexa Johnson of bringing the Maori modernists into the fold, the gallery is long overdue for a show cataloguing and contextualising the various strands of contemporary Maori practice. As for Pacific artists, they are even less visible.

Public art galleries have an important role to play in an artist’s career, serving to establish or validate their place in the wider culture through a hierarchy of opportunities – acquisitions, inclusion in themed shows, installation invitations, surveys, retrospectives, posthumous retrospectives.
There’s a high degree of subjectivity involved, and it’s never without controversy. After all, status and money are at stake. But it’s part of a gallery’s function that Auckland hasn’t been doing well in recent years.
In the past decade there have been only 10 large single-artist shows of living New Zealand artists and four of dead ones – and several of those were curated elsewhere.
Saines believes the gallery does connect with New Zealand contemporary art and artists. “Among the gallery stakeholders are contemporary artists themselves and we do work very closely with the contemporary art community,” he says.
“We are a museum that dedicates and commits itself to the acquisition and programming of contemporary New Zealand art, and we do it in the context of international practice through the agency of things like the triennial (a three-yearly survey of contemporary art), we do it through the agency of the Walters Prize, we do it through the very strong commitment we make to purchasing New Zealand art and overwhelmingly what we buy is contemporary New Zealand art.”
But artists are more than stakeholders. They’re the people who create what will be in the gallery in future, who feed off what’s on its walls, who live and breathe art, and who can be expected to have an awareness of what’s going on and what’s important.
While the Auckland Art Gallery doesn’t have as strong a record with contemporary artists as it might, it does appear to know how to look after benefactors. Galleries have been renamed, so today’s big spenders like Alan and Dame Jenny Gibbs, Trevor Farmer and Michael Friedlander get equal billing with Sir George Grey and James Tannock McKelvie.
Still, the largest contribution to the $121 million rebuild was $56.1 million from Auckland City Council ratepayers, with $30 million coming from the government.
That should give Aucklanders a sense of ownership of the new space and some high expectations.
There’s all that wall space, not to mention the loading dock and jumbo sized lift, just waiting for action.
Now we need a programme worthy of the expense.


GREAT BUILDING, SHAME ABOUT THE WALK UP

The new entrance to the Auckland City Art Gallery is impressive, but step back too far and you’ll fall down Khartoum Place.
That’s because, rather than a broad Spanish Steps-type approach rising up from Lorne St – or even through the arcade to Queen Street - the architects were barred from touching the tile mural bisecting the cramped alley.
That mural, ostensibly marking the centenary of women’s suffrage, was thrown up without consultation in 1993.
Council officers, who had been lobbied to take the project by tile maker Jan Morrison, sought to mollify the gallery and the architects designing the adjoining New Gallery by saying it was temporary.
But any attempt to remove the eyesore and create an elegant working public space integrated with the gallery access is now decried as an attack on feminism.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Waatea News archive relocates

As Waatea News no longer supplies content to Radio New Zealand National, we have decided to suspend this service. The daily Waatea News bulletins can be accessed on the station's own site, waatea603am.co.nz. Thanks for looking.
Adam Gifford

Friday, July 01, 2011

Maori strategy sidelined by standards

The country's school principals say the Ministry of Education is damaging the prospects of Maori students by soft-peddling the Ka Hikitia Maori education strategy for mainstream schools.

A State Services Commission review has found the ministry is failing to address under-achievement by Maori students.

Federation president Peter Simpson says that’s because the ministry’s focus is implementing national standards.

“Here’s a key resource that shows when implemented properly and understood by schools it does make a huge difference for Maori students achievement yet national standards is seen as the silver bullet and that seems to be soaking up a lot of the ministry’s resources and focus,” he says.

Mr Simpson says the ministry’s standards approach, as laid down by Education Minister Anne Tolley, is doomed to failure.

KEEN DEMAND FOR TE TAURA WHIRI RESOURCES

The Maori Language Commission is being overwhelmed by requests for resources for Maori Language Week next week.

Spokesperson Debra Jensen says this year's theme is manaakitanga or hospitality.

She says the aim is to get everyone on board to care for the language, whatever their level of fluency.

“The key message for Maori Language Week in any year is to speak the language. It’s the easiest form of language revitalisation. It may mean learning te reo Maori or using the language you have more regularly. Pronouncing words properly is a really good start,” Ms Jensen says.

RUGBY TEAMS IN FOR MARAE WELCOMES

Marae across the country are preparing to host international rugby teams for the Rugby World Cup in September.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says 15 marae from Northland region down to Invercargill will host teams including those from Namibia, South Africa and the USA.

Kingi Taurua from Waitangi’s Te Tii marae at Waitangi says the whanau is looking forward to talking about more than just rugby with the Canadian team and IRB match officials.

They will also be given the history and a Maori perspective of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The welcome for the All Blacks will be on Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia.

GOVERNMENT SEES PEOPLE AS DISPOSABLE SAYS SYKES

Mana Party spokesperson Annette Sykes says Aotearoa is under threat as never before from government policies.

She says the proposed shift of more than 1000 Defence jobs from uniform to civilian positions is unprecedented.

She says it will cost many Maori service people their livelihoods.

“I am really worried about where that kind of ideology is taking the nation. It‘s almost like everyone is disposable. No one is really valuable for our society,. No one has an intrinsic heart or right to be part of this society, and I think that is where Hone has appealed in this by-election,” says Ms Sykes, who is fronting Mana while leader Hone Harawira takes a break after the te Tai Tokorau by-election.

She says the party aims to reflect the anger of the nation about such changes.

WAIPUKERAU FREEZING CHAIN CLOSES

Labour Maori affairs spokesperson Parekura Horomia says Maori farmers should use their economic muscle to protect Maori jobs.

He says a large percentage of the 250 freezing workers laid off at Waipukerau yesterday were Maori.

He says farmers should send their stock elsewhere.

“It’s one simple way Maori can influence where businesses stay open and where they don’t and I’m afraid we breed the animals and them let everyone else jockey for position about where the meat goes,” Mr Horomia says.

MATARIKI ON SCREEN FOR MATARIKI FESTIVAL

Matariki is drawing to a close, so Films on Marae is showing the film Matariki on two Auckland marae.

Co-ordinator Hinurewa Te Hau says another feature, Hugh and Heke, and a number of short films will also screen at Te Mahurehure Marae in Point Chevalier and Mataatua Marae in Mangere.

She says it’s a way to bring the community together and to find new ways to make the most of marae.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Taumarunui reserved land gets catch-up

The Crown has paid $250,000 to a Taumaranui land trust to compensate it for being forced to charge peppercorn rents.

Rakai Taiaroa from the Karanga Te Kere Whanua Trust says the trust was overlooked when the Maori Reserved Land Act was amended in 1997.

That means it was denied fair value for its land.

“With this added resource we are able to plan things a little better and hopefully provide a good development platform for the trust,” Mr Tairoa says.

The settlement was one his late father Sir Atawhai Taiaroa had fought for.

FREE TRADE DEAL WITH INDIA COULD LIFT ALL BOATS

Labour leader Phil Goff says Maori businesses stand to win big winners if New Zealand can negotiate a free trade agreement with India.

Prime minister John Key is in Delhi trying to nail down the agreement Mr Goff set in train as Labour’s trade minister.

He says tariff barriers are keeping New Zealand exports out of what could be a huge market.

“You’re paying a huge amount to sell your wine, to sell your dairy product, to sell your land into India and if we can negotiate an FTE to reduce those barriers that creates and tremendous opportunity including for Maori working in those sectors,” Mr Goff says.

Maori tourism ventures could also gain from any increase in Indian visitors.

TARANAKI MAORI TAKING UP BOXING

Taranaki-based boxer Sam Rapira says young Maori are flocking to the ring.

The Ngapuhi slugger is the number two amateur light heavyweight behind Reece Papuni of Ngati Porou and Nga Rauru.

He says their success is inspiring rangatahi to join his Bell Block Box Office club, and probably half its members are Maori.

Sam Rapira fights Australian number two Jake Carr in New Plymouth on Saturday.
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VOTE FOR MMP ADVANCES MAORI INTERESTS

A Victoria university politics lecturer says Maori need to vote for MMP to continue in November’s referendum.

Maria Bargh from Te Arawa says MMP has meant more Maori in parliament.

She says a return to a first past the post system could slash the political representation of Maori.

“The issue of the Maori seats isn’t on the table with this referendum but it seems to me it’s a slippery slope once you start going down options that are worse for Maori and looking at those who are against MMP suggests to me MMP definitely needs to be retained,” Dr Bargh says.

She says there is room to improve MMP without destroying its essence of giving minorities a say.

MOMENTUM FOR NOVEMBER WITH DAVIS IN NORTH

Labour leader Phil Goff is confident Kelvin Davis will topple Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau in November.

He says contrary to Mr Harawira’s claims Labour spent up big trying to oust him, Mr Davis’s campaign was financially modest but high energy.

He says the 86 percent reduction in the Mana leader’s election night majority shows the momentum is with Mr Davis.

“Hone took that from being the safest Maori Party seat in the country to being the most marginal and Kelvin on the other hand lifter his vote from 29 percent of the vote to 41 percent. That is a great effort and we’ll build on that,” Mr Goff says.

ANCIENT MISTAKES AFFECTING MODERN SCHOLARSHIP

Maori academic Rawiri Taonui says students are getting Maori history wrong because they rely in early Pakeha accounts rather than Maori oral traditions.

Mr Taonui says early Pakeha writers often got what they were hearing wrong, but because they wrote it down it is now accepted uncritically as being correct.

He says a classic example is the way creation whakapapa is tought at university level.

“The usual order in pre-European whakapapa was Te Po te Kore te Ao and what happened was when some Europeans translated the terms around 1900 their translations suggested to them the order should be different so they changes it and they published it in books and when Maori started coming through the university system they were taught from those books. Mr Taounui says.

He will present his findings at a UNESCO conference on oral history in Portugal next week.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Army dumps uniforms for cheaper civvies

A former army officer says today’s Defence restructure will threaten future recruitment.

The Defence Force is making more than 300 uniformed instructors, photographers, logistics and administrative staff redundant and reassigning the positions as lower-paid civilian roles.

Hector Matthews of Te Rarawa and Te Aupouri says while the Defence Force may need to reprioritise its expenditure, the loyalty of its soldiers isn’t being reciprocated.

“It's a pretty cold message for a lot of our rangatahi because I think by and large the services have served our people well, given them god qualifications and experience, but it will make them think twice so it may well harm recruitment in years to come as those who have been made redundant advise their whanau it’s not the way to go so it’s a risk for the military,” Mr Matthews says.

Personnel who choose not to apply for the newly civilianised roles or are not appointed will receive redundancy.

KAHUI BOOK SPARKS FACEBOOK OUTRAGE

A Facebook site calling for a boycott of book by Kahui twins’ mother Macsyna King has drawn 24,000 members.

Site creator Jo Hayes says she’s outraged by the book Breaking Silence, which was written in collaboration with publisher Ian Wishhart.

She says it’s not okay to profit from the killing of children.

“This is not anything to do with race. This is about two babies who were murdered in my view and no one is being held accountable,” Ms Hayes says.

She's planning a silent protest at Christchurch bookstores when the book is released next month.

RAPIRA WANTING CRACK AT TOP SPOT

Ngapuhi boxer Sam Rapira says he’s ready to take on the country’s best.

The number two light heavyweight has a repeat bout against Australian number two Jake Carr in New Plymouth at the weekend

He says he’s rather be fighting Reece Papuni of Ngati Porou and Nga Rauru, who’s the New Zealand champion.

If Rapira says if he can make the top in his grade in the world championships in Azerbaijan in September, it means automatic entry into the Olympics.

NORMAN KEEN TO WORK WITH HARAWIRA

Greens co-leader Russell Norman says he is looking forward to working with Hone Harawira where the Greens and Mana share common ground.

Dr Norman says one area will be in the creation of environmentally friendly jobs.

“Up in the north there is a lot of unemployment so I think there is common ground there. In terms of cleaning up rivers, there’s clearly, having seen what happened at Waitangi Day this year where there was so much faeces in the water you couldn’t swim in it, there’s common ground there, and the Greens have been very focused on getting children out of poverty so there is also some common ground there,” Dr Norman says.

He expects Hone Harawira will be fully occupied until the November election with making Mana a national organisation.

GOFF SEEING LIMITED ROLE FOR MANA LEADER

Labour leader Phil Goff says Mana leader Hone Harawira is politically irrelevant because he can’t be trusted.

Mr Goff says even if Labour is in a position to form a government after November’s election, Mr Harawira won’t be invited to join any coalition.

“I don’t believe he can ever be part of a formal coalition because he simply isn’t reliable as a partner. He has found it very hard to work with other groups over time, most recently the Maori Party, and if you are gong to have a coalition government it needs to be stable and it needs to be built on a relationship of trust and reliability,” he says.

Mr Goff says in the event Hone Harawira retains Te Tai Tokerau in November, he will be welcome to work with Labour in areas they can find political agreement … as they have done in the past.

MAORI NURSES ENTERING SOUTH AUCKLAND WORKFORCE

Manukau Institute of Technology's Puora Matatini Maori Workforce Initiative today celebrated the graduation of 12 more Maori nurses.

Bernard te Paa, Counties Manukau Health’s general manager of Maori health, says the scheme has made a real impact since it was launched three years ago.

He says it giving many wahine the chance of a career they may not have expected otherwise, as most of the women have come from being on a benefit.

Counties Manukau Health hopes to employ all of today's graduates as part of the overall strategy to grow the number of Maori working in the health sector.

Harawira told to stop swearing

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says now he's a leader of a political party, Hone Harawira needs to stop swearing.

Mr Peters says now the Mana leader is back in parliament, he needs to mind his language.

“There are no swear qwords in the Maori language so you are selling yourself out as a Maori speaker and also as an English speaker. If your only choice of words is to swear you are letting yourself down and you are letting your people down,” Mr Peters says.

FAR NORTH BUS SERVICE UNDER THREAT

A far north bus service says without subsidies its service to many isolated Maori communities will have to end.

Manager Cliff Colquhoun says the Busabout Kaitaia service has been possible because of a recycling partnership with Te Runanga o te Rarawa which allows it to run its buses on a high percentage of biofuel created from recycled cooking fat.

But he says the service doesn't fit the Land Transport Agency's criteria for support, despite it providing a low cost alternative to private cars.

Busabout Kaitaia is looking for $40,000 ... less than 10 percent of the subsidy for Whangarei's bus system.

MARAE GETS WHANAU TO THE GYM TO COUNTER DIABETES

An Opotiki hapu is mounting its own campaign against the diabetes epidemic which has the World Health Organisation ranking New Zealand as among the worst in the world for the disease.

Waihi Leabourn from Mataatua Sports Trust says two dozen members of Ngati Patumoana are taking part in the 12-week health and fitness challenge, which includes nutritional workshops, power training and health education.

She says their attitudes to sugar, salt and saturated fat are being challenged, and they are bengtold what to do to prevent type two diabetes.

The hope is their example will inspire others connected to Waiaua marae.

MANA WORKING UP POLICY PLATFORMS

Mana steering group member Annette Sykes says the new party's big difference from the Maori Party will be policy.

Ms Sykes has been working with fellow lawyers Moana Jackson and Jane Kelsey and social justice campaigners John Minto and Mike Treen on ideas that will be put to the inaugural conference.

She says the Maori Party was always reacting to the mainstream parties rather than coming up with its own ideas.

“They had some very lovely values like kotahitanga, manaakitanga, whnaungatanga and rangatiratanga. What Mana has been very clear about is that we want to give substance to those very important principles. Doing that requires us to set in place some clear foundational principles and key policy planks,” Ms Sykes says.

Policies already released during the Te Tai Tokerau by-election included Mana's approach to treaty settlements, employment, the cost of living and its Hone Heke tax on financial transactions.

NORTHEC AND WANANGA O AOTEROA TEAM UP FOR TRADES

The chief executive of Northtec says the polytechnic's co-operation agreement with Te Wananga o Aotearoa will open up opportunities for young Maori in Northland to learn trades.

Paul Binney says two institutions will combine in August to provide a trade training at Northtec's Raumanga campus in Whangarei.

He says the rebuilding of Christchurch is set to create a national shortage of qualified tradespeople.

“A key issue for us is really getting the message out there, particularly to Maori, that if you come and study over the next year to 18 months you are going to end up with a qualification that is going to put you in a really strong position to get a good selection of jobs in a year or so’s time,” Mr Binney says.

Northtec also has a deal with Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi allowing its students to undertake post graduate studies.

WI PARATA CASE EXPLORED IN ROLLICKING DETAIL

Lawyer and historian David Williams says his new book should give people a rollicking good read about Maori and settler relationships in the late 19th century.

A Simple Nullity looks at the Wi Parata's attempt to get the Anglican Bishop of Wellington to return land at Titahi Bay that Ngati Toa had gifted for the building of a tertiary college for Maori.

Professor Williams says the 1877 case is notorious because the then-chief justice ruled the Treaty of Waitangi was irrelevant to the appellant's case - but the story is not black and white.

“Other judges said the treaty is rather more than a nullity, in fact it is a moral and political obligation of significance, and indeed some of the moral and political ideas of active protection of Maori, you can find in the Parata judgment itself. History always turns out to be a little bit more complicated if you dig into the details of it than if you just look at the nice simple sound bites so to speak,” he says.

A Simple Nullity? is published by Auckland University Press.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

MP talk duo adds mana to mediation

The Mana Party has called on former MPs Willie Jackson and John Tamihere to engineer a truce with the Maori Party.

Mr Jackson the Maori Party leaders are understandably angry about some of Mana leader Hone Harawira's comments after his win in Saturday's te Tai Tokerau by election.

But he says they need to get over it.

“The last thing I want to see is the Maori Party out of the game and I don’t want to see the Mana Party out of the game to be replaced by Labour Party people, a Labour Party that sold out Maori big time just six or seven years ago,” Mr Jackson says.

He says the proposal is that the two parties not stand candidates against each other in the November general election.

PAPAKURA MARAE CONSIDERS DIALYSIS UNIT

With the World Health organisation ranking New Zealand as one of the worst countries for diabetes, a south Auckland marae is looking at installing its own dialysis machine.

Chief executive Tony Kake says a dialysis unit is part of Papakura Marae's 10-year plan.

He says the area has a high rate of kidney disease, and people travel considerable distances for treatment, so community dialysis could bridge the gap between hospital and home dialysis.

Papakura marae is part of Kotahitanga, a Manukau regional collective that delivers Whanau Ora services.

ABORIGINAL DELEGATION STUDIES ROTORUA TOURISM

Rotorua Maori tourism operators are sharing tricks of the trade with an Indigenous Tourism Development Mission from Queensland.

Deputy mayor Trevor Maxwell says a genuine indigenous tourism experience is becoming a must-do for tourists on both sides of the Tasman, and Rotorua has been offering it for more than a century.

He says it was an honour to welcome the 20 Aboriginal leaders.

Trevor Maxwell says an increasing number of young Maori are gaining tourism industry experience in Australia which they are bringing back home.

TUHOE TO ENTER ‘RELATIONSHIP’ WITH CROWN

Tuhoe's chief negotiator says a relationship agreement that the tribe will sign with the Crown on Saturday should help get treaty settlement negotiations back on course.

Talks with the Bay of Plenty iwi broke down when Prime Minister John Key vetoed the return of Te Urewera National Park land which had been confiscated.

Tamati Kruger says the agreement is being treated as a separate issue.

“Even if we were not in negotiations, we would want a political compact with the Crown because we haven’t got one. Do we think we need one>? Well, so far not having one for the past 140 years has resulted in zip positive relationship with the Crown,” he says.

Mr Kruger says Tuhoe has told the Governemnt it wants to settle its claims next year ... but there can be no deal without Te Urewera land.

PETERS DOWN ON MOLLYCODDLING MAORI VOTERS

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says education about the importance of voting needs to come before mobile polling booths.

Labour MP Shane Jones raised the idea of taking booths to isolated rural Maori communities, sports events and hui in the wake of Saturday's low by-election turn-out in Te tai Tokerau.

Mr Peters says Maori need a history lesson.

“What really doing is mollycoddling people about something in the Maori world that many of their ancestors gave their life for, were prepared to die for, so it needs not greater ease to vote but reeducation on the importance of voting I think,” Mr Peters says.

He says the 59 percent of eligible voters who didn't bother to find a polling booth on Saturday can't complain about the result, which was the re-election of Hone Harawira.

PRISON SMOKING BAN COULD IMPORVE WHANAU HEALTH

An anti-smoking campaigner says the ban on smoking in prison that comes into force on Friday could help their wider whanau.

Grace Wong from Smokefree Nurses Aotearoa says her team has been helping prisoners with nicotine replacement therapy and support.

She says Maori women, who make up the bulk of the female prison population, may be able to promote a smokefree environment in their home once they are released.

Ms Wong says inmates who undergo nicotine replacement therapy have a higher chance of staying smokefree once they're released than those who try to quit cold turkey.

Harawira blamed for poverty inaction

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says the $600 million the party has won for Maori through its coalition with National is a fraction of what is needed.

Mrs Turia says the Te Tai Tokerau by-election highlighted the appalling conditions Maori are contending with in the north.

She says Hone Harawira, who won back the seat for his new Mana Party, could have done more for his constituents during his five years as a Maori Party MP.

“The housing situation is appalling. The impoverishment is appalling, and there’s 67 percent of young people under the age of 25 who are unemployed in the north. That is an indictment on those members of parliament who frankly should have been serving the interests of that community,” Mrs Turia says.

She says Maori communities in other regions like the Bay of Plenty are also suffering in the current economic climate.

RONGOWHAKAATA GO IT ALONE ON TREATY DEAL

A meeting house held at the national museum could soon be on its way home to the Bay of Plenty.

Rongowhakaata negotiator Willie te Aho says the iwi intends to initial the settlement of its treaty claims at Te Papa on July 8.

He says the house is a significant part of the claims.

“Te Aute Turanga is the premier whare tupuna at Te Papa. It was confiscated from Ngati Kaipoho and Rongowhakaata iwi at the time of the raupatu in the late 1860s, no question about it being confiscated.
Mr Te Aho says.

He says if Te Aute Turanga is returned to Poverty Bay, it could become part of a museum complex that also honours C Company of the 28 Maori Battallion.

The Rongowhakaata negotiations have been split from those of neighbour Te Aitanga a Maahiki, which were thrown into turmoil last month by a Supreme Court ruling that the Mangatu Incorporation could make a separate claim to land taken for erosion control in the 1960s.

TATAIAKO GOOD START FOR CHANGING TEACHER ATTITUDES

A South Auckland teacher says a proposed cultural competency programme should improve achievement in the classroom.

Associate education Minister Pita Sharples wants to roll out the Tataiako programme to help secondary teachers to communicate better with Maori students.

Sara Harrison of Nga Puhi and Ngati Maniapoto says relationships are critical.

“The kids aren't going to do anything for you unless they know that you care for them, and that is the biggest thing for Maori and Pacific. If you don’t understand that, it takes you 10 times longer get anybody to do anything for you in the classroom,” she says.

MOBILE BOOTHS ANSWER TO LOW ELECTION TURNOUT

Labour MP Shane Jones is calling for mobile voting booths to address low turnout in the Maori electorates.

Only 40 percent of eligible voters turned out in the te Tai Tokerau by-election on Saturday, compared with 63 percent in the 2008 general election ... and an overall average in 2008 of 79 percent.

Mr Jones says the Maori seats will not survive unless there is a consistently high turnout.

“It’s important that those of us who want to improve Maori turn out find innovative ways so we can take the voting facilities to where the people are, to sports fixtures and other gatherings perhaps even of a cultural nature and capture the people there so voting becomes user-friendly and we go beyond what we’ve got now. The reality is of the 32,00 people enrolled to vote, Hone has got less than 15 percent. It’s hardly a resounding mandate,” he says.

Mr Jones says there were several hundred potential voters at the dawn launch of a replica Maori village at Te Hana on Saturday morning who could have benefited from a mobile booth.

DEAL DREAM PROPOSAL FOR MAORI SEATS

Meanwhile, Mana Party interim president Matt McCarten says if the Mana and Maori parties don't co-operate, Labour could win back Maori seats.

Mr McCarten says he's disappointed with the Maori Party's promise to again contest Te Tai Tokerau, despite the collapse of its vote in Saturday's by-election.

He says Mana leader Hone Harawira will offer to work for the re-election of sitting Maori Party MPs, in exchange for a clear run at the other three Maori seats.

“If it doesn't run in the seats, then the way it will win additional seats is through the party list and if the Maori party win their four seats or keep their four seats then the list becomes surplus to them and so we have an agreement that can be reached around that where we say ‘you don’t run a list, we run a list and we will help you on the Maori seats,’” Mr McCarten says.

He says Labour's Kelvin Davis will struggle to get media attention if he runs again in November, so Hone Harawira should be considered impregnable in Te Tai Tokerau.

EVICTION PLAN SEEN AS OFFERING HOPE TO DESPERATE

National's plan to move on at least 4000 state tenants has brought hope to one South Auckland solo mother.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley says Housing New Zealand tenants who are paying full market rent should find places in the private market and make way for desperate families who need homes.

Tamalane Russell of Ngai Tuhoe and Nga Puhi says at the communal emergency housing unit where she is living with her two children, families have to wait up to six months to get a state home.

“That's not fair because we could live there in a house we can afford while they can live in another house that is a big higher for them but they can afford in their budget,” Ms Russell says.