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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, August 28, 2006

Kahungunu launches housing strategy

Te Runanga o Ngati Kahungunu is today launching a new strategy to put iwi members in their own houses.

Chairperson Ngahiwi Tomoana says the Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa iwi was keen to address its own housing needs rather than waiting for government agencies to help individual members.

He says the iwi has been building up expertise after first entering the new home market five years ago.

“One of our companies which is still operating under whanau has built over 100 houses now so we know it can be done, we know the mystery of the building industry can be taken on now, so institutionally we are going to take it on and put our people into houses,” Tomoana said.

Ngahiwi Tomoana says the scheme is called Te Paatu Watawata, because putting a whanau in its own house gives it the sort of security people used to seek from a fortified pa.

RANGATAHI SIGN ON AS WARDENS

The re-elected president of the national Maori wardens association says rangatahi are signing up in large numbers.

Peter Walden was at the annual Maori wardens conference which finished in Rotorua over the weekend.

He says after 38 years, the wardens are seeking legislative changes allowing them greater autonomy.

Mr Walden says he was also encouraged by the fact almost a third of the 300 wardens at the hui were under 30.

STUDENT GAP GETTING SMALLER

The gap between Maori and Pakeha students is getting smaller, according to the National Education Monitoring Project.

The project samples Year four to Year eight students in 10 percent of schools across three curriculum areas.

Primary teachers’ union national president Irene Cooper says this year's data on mathematics, social studies and information access shows an improvement for Maori students.

She says the result could reflect an improvement in the way mainstream teachers are connecting with Maori students.

“The systems are bedding in. I think it means that we are building teaching capacity in teaching in te reo Maori. I think mainstream teachers are getting a handle too on connecting better with Maori students,” Cooper said.

Irene Cooper says Maori learners score well in areas that reflect their own life and culture.

NGAI TAHU WINS WATER FOR FOREST CONVERSION

The way has been cleared for Ngai Tahu to develop what is set to be the biggest farm on the North Canterbury plains.

The Environment Court has confirmed that Ngai Tahu Properties has priority access to water from the Waimakariri River.

The decision puts paid to a $350 million irrigation scheme proposed by Central Plains Water.

Ngai Tahu Properties chief executive Tony Sewell says it's a major operation to turn the former Eyerwell State Forest into a farm.

“We think we'll be developing for 20 years from the time we start converting to when we come out the other end with a fully fledged farming operation on 6500 hectares, and that’s a big farm, that will be the biggest farm on the plains of North Canterbury,” Sewell said.

Tony Sewell says Ngai Tahu is now working on an irrigation scheme and clearing the land.

TRAINING NUMBER ONE AT PRINCIPALS’ HUI

Training and retaining staff took priority over recruitment, at the annual Maori principals’ hui, which wrapped up in Palmerston North over the weekend.

One hundred and twenty delegates from around the country met at the Rangimarie Marae to discuss ways to support Maori initiatives in both mainstream and kura kaupapa schools.

Convener Debbie Marshall Lobb, the principal of Te Kura Kaupapa o Manawatu, says while it there is a need to attract more Maori into the education sector, keeping existing talent is as important.

“What do we do to keep them there , to retain them, and what do we do to support them. Obviously you can’t divorce yourself from the fact we need more Maori educators in the system, that’s at another level, but I think we need to acknowledge, reward and support those that are already in the system,” Lobb said.

HOUSING SCHEME GOOD FOR IWI HEALTH

The head of Hawkes Bay iwi Ngati Kahungunu says a new housing scheme should improve the health of Maori in the region.

Ngahiwi Tomoana says the Te Paatu Watawata project will address a shortage of suitable accommodation in the area.

Mr Tomonana says the name refers to fortified pa and the protection they provided.

“Having a good house contributes to good health, good learning, security and confidence, so we see that as a crucial element, and one of the most and mysterious and hard fought investments of anybody, and if we can put that in front of or people, rebuild our patu watawata for each whanau,” Tomonana said.

Ngahiwi Tomoana says iwi need to find their own solutions to health and housing problems, rather than just accept what is offered by Crown agencies.

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