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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, September 29, 2006

Turia taking Brash comments personally

Maori Party co leader Tariana Turia says her falling out with Don Brash is not about the National Party.

She says many National Party members must shudder when ever he opens his mouth.

Mrs Turia has cancelled a dinner date with Dr Brash, although her co-leader Pita Sharples may still attend.

She says Dr Brash's latest public comments, on the blood quantum of Maori was one example to many of his refusal to acknowledge Maori rights.

“We have rights to participate fully in this country, and that’s what we are denied. And he tries to make out we are people of privilege. Now I know I have overlooked his attitudes in the past, mainly because at a personal level, he does not talk like that,” Turia said.

Tariana Turia says Dr Brash's comments have a negative effect on race relations.

BLOOD STATEMENT BEYOND THE PALE

Meanwhile, political commentator Chris Trotter says Don Brash has gotten off lightly for his comment that there were few Maori with pure blood.

Mr Trotter says the National leader is propounding views which have no place in civilised political discourse.

“The idea that you could assign ethnicity to people on the basis of blood quantum is absolutely indistinguishable from the so called racial science that prevailed in Germany between 1933 and 1945, and I think for anybody in this day and age to talk about how much blood you have, whether it be Maori blood or Jewish blood, is extremely dangerous,” Trotter said.

Chris Trotter says the modern understanding is that ethnic identity is socially and culturally determined and has litte to do with genetic factors.

SMOKING LEAVES GAP THAT CAN’T BE FILLED

Maori anti-smoking group Te Hotu Manawa says smoking has taken away too many Maori mothers and grandmothers far too early.

The group will be speaking at the National Maori Women's Welfare League conference in Ngaruawahia on how smoking by women and particularly pregnant women affects their whanau.

Spokesperson Marama Davidson says she saw all her aunties and nannies smoking while growing up, and now she doesn't see them any more.

“We all saw our nannies smoking. We saw them die from it. We saw them die far too young. Tobacco took them away from us far too early, took away their mana and their knowledge,” Davidson said.

Maori women's rates of smoking are some of the highest in the world.

CLOSE ESCAPE FOR MAORI PARTY FROM NATIONAL EMBRACE

Political commentator Chris Trotter says Don Brash's comments about Maori ethnicity and blood were a timely warning to the Maori Party about the risks of getting too close to National.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says she can no longer work with Dr Brash, after a year of leaving that possibility open.

Mr Trotter says the Maori Party tried to avoid the predicament facing the Greens, whose unequivocal support for Labour before the election meant it was taken for granted when the govermnent was formed.

But he says it was a risky strategy, because the overwhelming majority of voters on the Maori roll gave their party vote to Labour, even if they voted for Maori Party electorate candidates.

“Courting the National, however shrewd that might appear in a purely strategic sense, it is also a highly risky strategy, given the centre left leanings of most Maori voters,” Trotter said.

Chris Trotter says the Maori Party had a commendable first year in Parliament.

BUSINESS SCHOOL GETS CLOSE TO MAORI

The dean of Auckland University's school of business says his faculty is keen to involve more Maori, even to the extent of going where they live.

The faculty this week presented awards to Maori former students who have excelled in business and scholarships to Maori currently undertaking business degrees.

Professor Barry Spicer says New Zealand's economic future is tied in with Maori business success.

He says his faculty has acknowledged that by running courses in Rotorua and Kawakawa in Northland, as well as developing Maori focussed papers at its Auckland campuses.

“The Maori population is growing. Quite a lot of that population lives outside the main centres and finds it quite hard to access relevant business education. So what we have done is try to go where the people are,” Spicer said.

RESEARCH ON KINDERGARTENS

New Plymouth kindergarten teacher Ramila Sadikeen has received an NZEI Te Tiu Roa scholarship to research how teachers can strengthen their links with Maori communities to enhance learning and bicultural practices in early childhood education.

Ms Sadikeen, who is originally from Sri Lanka, is the first early childhood teacher to receive a scholarship from the union.

She says singce the Te Whariki framework was introduced a decade ago, there has been no real examination of how the policy is working, or how kindergartens interact with Maori.

“The principles of the whaariki tells those are the things we have to work with. Well I have found we haven’t worked well with them It’s time that we did,” Sadikeen said.

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