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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, September 08, 2006

Peace breaks out at Parihaka

Planning for next January's Parihaka Peace Festival has been given a boost by the Maori Land Court, which has appointed an interim board to manage the historic Taranaki pa.

The run up to this year's festival was marked by disputes between organisers and some marae trustees, who tried to stop it going ahead.

Festival spokesperson Te Miringa Hohaia says the court has removed trustees he says were dysfunctional, and asked a kaumatua from each of the pa's three marae to come up with a new structure.

Mr Hohaia says he is confident the three elders will be able to bring the community together as it works through the challenges facing it.

IN: The key to Maori success is open dialogue where people can say what they need to say and where through korero can come to some kind of consensus. So I’m confident something really good is on the move,” Hohaia said.

Te Miringa Hohaia says he is talking with some high profile international acts about appearing at the Parihaka Festival, which starts of January the fifth.


The lock-out of workers at supermarket owner Progressive Enterprises distribution centres is being painted as vital for improving the wages of Maori workers.

National Distribution Union secretary Laila Harre says the striking workers, most of whom are Maori or Pacific Island, are standing up for all low paid workers.

She says Progressive would love for the workers to lose so others will be frightened of standing up for higher wages.

“It's really, really important that people who support the right of low paid workers to bargain, people who want to see Maori wages lifted to the level of Pakeha wages, stand behind these workers because that’s exactly what they’re trying to achieve,” Harre said.

Laila Harre says the only way to address the huge disadvantage of Maori in paid employment is by improving pay and conditions through unionisation and collective bargaining.


Schools around the country are getting the chance to hear some high quality Maori reo through the activities of award winning Wellington theatre company Taki Rua.

The company is touring 'Nga Manu Rooreka', a play by Apirana Taylor.

Te Rawhitiroa Bosch, who appears in the play along with Jacob Tamaiparea, Riria Hotere and Kura Te Ua, says a big part of the play's appeal is the skilful translation into te reo by Materoa Haenga.

IN: It's really awesome really sweet to listen to and we’ve been talking to a whole lot of people who have seen us and quite a lot of people who are matatau in te reo have said that’s really beautiful, so it’s really awesome for us as the actors to be speaking this type of reo,” Bosch said.


Maori fisheries settlement trust chairperson Shane Jones says he owes it to the people who put him in the job to ensure an orderly transition of leadership.

National's Maori affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee has accused Mr Jones of conflict of interest and double dipping for continuing to hold the $80,000 a year post at Te Ohu Kaimoana Trust as well as being a Labour list MP.

But Mr Jones says he will be gone by the next annual meeting in February, when most of the iwi will have received their fisheries assets.

He says as chairperson he was chosen by fellow members rather than the minister.

“When I became the chair in the year 2000, six very senior figures from te ao Maori supported me: June Jackson, Naida Glavis, June Mariu, Judge Mason, Archie Taiaroa and Koro Wetere. And I really do owe a debt of honour to them to ensure that the task is successfully completed,” Jones said.

Shane Jones says Te Ohu Kaimoana is no longer the politicised controversial body it was in the 1990s, and it now requires a moderate mix of politics, economics and culture.


A Parihaka community leader says the Taranaki village needs to find ways to support itself so it can maintain anf grow its historic legacy.

The Maori Land Court has sacked village trustees and appointed three kaumatua to overseee the transition to a new management structure.

Former trust secretary Te Miringa Hohaia says it's a step the community is applauding after a decade of dysfunctional management.

Mr Hohaia says the community feels it must maintain and spread the teachings of 19th century peace prophets Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, despite its few resources.

“Throughout the twentieth century Parihaka has been relatively poor, without a land bae that it could have access to and use as a resource. So it’s been in crisis because it’s had no means of developing and it’s struggled just to maintain what it’s got and it hasn’t been able to do that well at all,” Hohaia said.

Te Miringa Hohaia says one of the ways the community is trying to develop is through the Parihaka Peace festival, which will be held again next January.


With spring in the air, many Maori will be out preparing the ground for crops both new and traditional.

Massey University horticulture lecturer Nick Roskruge says interest in the national Maori vegetable growers’ collective, Tahuri Whenua, is snowballing.

The collective, which Dr Roskruge chairs, helps growers source traditional varieties of taewa potatos, corn and other vegetables, and provides a forum for discussion of scientific and commercial issues.

“If nothing else it’s about getting people back interested in the whenua, and how they can interact and relate to those activities and hopefully over the next few years we can just grow and grow,” Roskruge said.

Nick Roskruge says the next few weeks will be busy for growers as they not only get their seed in the ground, but they also head for the Tahuri Whenua annual hui at Massey in Palmerston North later this month.( sept 28)


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