Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Water rights still hot topic

Prominent Ngai Tahu kaumatua Rick Tau says councils are still ignoring Maori landowners over water rights..

Mr Tau, who chairs Te Runanga o Tuahiwi near Rangiora, says use of the rivers and of mahinga kai or food gathering areas has been a point of contention since Ngai Tahu signed the Treaty of Waitangi.

He says the pressure is becoming greater, as more South Islanders develop farms and demand access to a dwindling water supply.

Mr Tau says local authorities who regulate water use behave as if Maori have no stake in the resource.

“The local authorities have never consulted with us and they drain a lot of these waterways, Some of them were lagoons, and there is now no water. Under the Resource Management Act they are required to consult with landowners and required to consult with Maori. They still do not consult with us, as if we do not exist,” Tau said.


Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says the government got it wrong, by relying too much on a media campaign to inform Maori voters of the electoral option.

The option closed yesterday, and the Electoral Enrolment Centre will give a final tally next Monday of how many people switched between the Maori and general rolls.

Maori Party MPs took to the road to urge Maori to shift onto the Maori roll, with the aim of creating at least one additional Maori seat.

The Electoral Enrolment Centre also had contractors out kanohi ki te kanohi or face to face with Maori giving out neutral information, but Mr Harawira says that wasn't enough.


Maori schools are concerned about the deletion of the Treaty of Waitangi from the draft curriculum.

Hato Paora college principal Tihirau Shepherd says the curriculum is a powerful document within the education system, and it needs to have regard for the nation's founding document.

Mr Shepherd says ignoring the treaty will also mean non Maori will miss out on understanding their country.

“Classrooms are very powerful places. Schools are very powerful places. Given the lack of reference to the treaty, it disempowers our people from gaining access, and it also disempowers non-Maori from gaining access to our history,” Shepherd said.


Maori language commissioner Patu Hohepa says the type of Maori spoken in Rarotonga is in danger of disappearing because families want their children to be fluent in English.

Dr Hohepa is in the Cook Islands this week consulting with educators and communities on how the language can be maintained.

He says while the dialects spoken on other islands seem secure, in Rarotonga people feel their children need te reo Pakeha so they can move to New Zealand for work.

Dr Hohepa says the message needs to get through at the ground level that children will have a better start in life if they are bilingual.


Taitokerau MP, Hone Harawira, says the Labour Party didn't push the Maori Electoral Option, because it knows it will lost the Maori seats at the ballot box.

The electoral option closed yesterday, but it could be until next February before it is known if there was a large enough increase in the Maori roll to create an eighth Maori seat.

Mr Harawira says while the Maori Party hit the streets to talk face to face with Maori voters, the government was content with mail outs and advertsing campaigns.


The winners of a competition highlighting Maori business success will be announced in Hamilton tonight.

The Rangatahi Business competition was organised by Waikato University's school of management studies.

Spokesperson Duke Boon, says six teams of senior students from Waikato high schools visited Wellington early in the year to study successful Maori businesses.

He says the students used business modelling techniques to evaluate the companies.

Mr Boon says each team will make a final 10 minute presentation at Hamilton's Founders Theatre, in the hope of winning the overall award worth 2 and a half thousand dollars.


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