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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Whanau Ora focus for research

Maori health researchers say to be effective, Maori health initiatives need to take into account wider family groups.

More than 130 researchers are at Te Papa in Wellington this week for the Health Research Council's Hui Whakapiripiri.

Hui facilitator Tu Williams says the theme of Whanau Tu, Whanau Ora has struck a chord with the research community.

He says many of the projects are developing robust evidence-based information which can influence policy.

“Whanau Ora's not just a narrow idea, concept and practice, it’s quite diverse and very holistic. The government’s strategy for Maori health is He Korowai Ora and the centerpiece is Whanau Ora. So from a policy point of view we have a very solid strategy there that we can hang our work on,” Williams said.

Tu Williams says the hui is a way researchers can keep a Maori focus to their work, which they may not get in other academic settings.

MAJOR OPERATORS FOR MAORI IN CHINA TOURS

The associate Minister of Tourism says if New Zealand could attract even a small percentage of the Chinese tourism market, it would create major opportunities for Maori tourism operators.

Dover Samuels says a high level delegation from the Chinese Tourism administration commented that most Chinese visitors would expecting a Maori experience as part of their holiday.

He says the delegation was impressed by its welcome to Sky City this week by a Ngati Whatua group.

Mr Samuels says most New Zealanders don't appreciate the size of the Chinese tourism market.

“Thirty million Chinese toursist spread out annually and visit different places. Said we didn’t want 30 million, we’ve only got a small country, but we wouldn’t mind cranking up the opportunities for us for the Chinese independent traveler to perhaps 1.5 to 2 million visitors annually,” Samuels said.

ORATORY ON SHOW OUT WEST

Waitakere teens get a chance today to showcase their oratory skills at the fourth Nga Manu Korero o Te Wao Tiriwa competition.

Students from 14 schools will give their thoughts on the two themes of the day, the Auahi Kore anti-smoking campaign and Matariki or the Maori season of renewal.

Organiser Rewi Spraggon says it's about providing a platform for rangatahi and encouraging the next generation of leaders.

Rewi Spraggon says the competition has won the backing of Unitec and the Waitakere City Council.

GENE LINKED BACK TO MAUI

They call it the warrior gene, but it should be called the Maui gene.

That's the reaction of Maori Council spokesperson Maanu Paul to the discovery by an Environmental Science and Research geneticist that the majority of Maori men carry a gene which has been linked to aggression and risk taking.

Mr Paul says Maori needed something special to not only travel here over vast stretches of ocean, but to survive centuries of colonialism, land confiscation and racism.

He says many of the traits attributed the the gene, such as fearlessness and risk taking, are associated with the Maori demi-god Maui.

IN: We should celebrate the fact that we can now trace this whakapapa all the way back to Maui, and in the case of my particular whanau all the way back to Hawaii and the Cook Islands. That is where we have come from and that is the gene that has survived all these past centuries,” Paul said.

Maanu Paul says the passion shown in the haka is a demonstration of the Maui gene in action.

GOVERNMENT LAGGING ON POVERTY PLANS

Council Trade Unions Maori vice president Sharon Clair says the Ministry of Social Development's latest social indicators report should make for sobering reading for those trying to say things are improving for Maori.

Ms Claire says the report still show the bulk of Maori continue to fall behind the mainstream in health, education and income.

She says the government spends more time writing reports than trying to fix problems like obesity.

“If this is about not being able to access healthy foods, remove the GST from fruit and vegetables, enabling a fairer distribution of wealth, so all people in this country can have access to healthy foods,” Clair said.

Sharon Clair says the government doesn't want to talk about the root causes of inequality, such as low pay, insecure employment and low education attainment.

PAINT-ON MOKO HORRIFIES PURIST

Rotorua man Nga- Hihi- o- te- Raa Bidois is upset at an American gimmick company which is selling taa moko face painting kits for Halloween.

Mr Bidois says it took him eight years to prepare himself for the taa moko he now wears.

He says the face kit trivialises what is a sacred art form.

“I think it's an abomination to a taonga that is considered along with our reao and along with our tikanga, and to take a taonga like this and put it out there as something that is going to scare people is an inconsiderate use of our taonga,” Bidois said.

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