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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, October 27, 2006

Maori Party looks to tighten policy process

It's party conference season again, with Labour gathering this weekend in Rotorua and the Maori Party holding its annual conference in Christchurch.

Co-leader Tariana Turia says the Maori Party is not expecting a big turnout in Otautahi, but after holding five bi-monthly hui in the North Island, it was time to support the Te Tai Tonga electorate.

Mrs Turia says the conference will tackle organisational and fundraising issues, as well as criticism that it makes too much policy on the hoof.

“For instance on smoking, where Hone (Harawira) had made an announcement that we were going to put in place legislation to get smoking out of Aotearoa. You can’t go out and make a public statement and not realise that is going to be taken as the policy of your party,” Turia said.

Tariana Turia says historian Rawiri Taonui, and former Alliance MP Willie Jackson, have been asked to critique to the party's performance during its first year in Parliament.

MAORI SOLUTIONS SOUGHT FOR DRUG SCOURGE

The head of the Drug Foundation says the way to tackle New Zealand's drug and alcohol problems is at the community level.

Ross Bell says this week's hui at Orakei Marae of CAYAD, or Community Action on Youth Alcohol and Drugs, highlighted the range of initiatives being tried around the country.

Mr Bell says of particular interest was the development of models to combat problems in the Maori community.

“If Maori kids are caught with drugs and alcohol in school, do we kick them out or do we actually put some support around them. And what would that support look like, is it going to be a Pakeha model or is it going to be a Maori model. The broader drug and alcohol sector where I am from are asking these questions,” Bell said.

Ross Bell says there are now more than 40 CAYAD branches, many of them involving Maori service providers.

LAND MARCH FILM SCREENING

There is a rare opportunity tonight to see one of the most significant events in modern Maori history on the big screen.

The New Zealand Film Archive in Wellington is showing Te Matakite o Aotearoa, a film of the 1975 Maori Land March.

Himiona Grace, the archive's kaitiaki taonga whitiahua, says director Geoff Steven and cameraman Leon Narby took a fly on the wall approach.

“The cameraman and the director were just in there with the people, walking along the side of the road. They also got them at various marae as they stopped for each night. He caught a lot of the talk that was just casual, funny, and also quite political, so he managed to capture a lot of korero that people wouldn’t know existed. Most people back in those days did not understand what the land march was about,” Grace said.

RICHARD RUA MASON MAKES SWEET MUSIC NO MORE

The man who penned one of the most popular songs on iwi radio will be laid to rest in his home town today.

Richard Rua Mason, from Pio Pio in the King Country, wrote Sweet Music in Te Hapua in 1985 for his band Electric Puha, and released it on cassette.

Sweet Music in Te Hapua has become something of an anthem in Maori communities. It makes reference to a number of places in the King Country and the Far North, where band members came from, and celebrates the simplicity of life by the sea.

Fellow musician Hayward Norman says Mason was still performing, and had been back in the studio shortly before he died.

Mr Norman said Mason’s music had cross cultural appeal and inspired many Maori songwriters who have gone on to write about the simpler things in life.

He says Richard Mason left a legacy to be enjoyed by future generations of Mori music lovers.

DRINK DRIVE FOCUS FOR CONCERT

A concert in Gisborne tomorrow night will mix music with an anti-drink driving message.

It's the third Survivor Idol show run by Turanga Health's Turanganui a Kiwa Injury Prevention project.

Performers have to compose songs with a road safety theme.

Organiser Molly Pardoe says it has proved a huge draw.

“We had the first year, and we had to close the doors in 20 minutes, it was a sell out. It was just fabulous. These young people, doing hip hop, kappa haka, rap, it was amazing what they were producing. So this is our third year,” Pardoe said.

Molly Pardoe says Survivor Idol entrants will be judged by last year's New Zealand Idol winner, Rosita Vai.

LANDMARCH MEMORIES STIRRED BY FILM

A big screen showing of the 1975 land march documentary Te Matekite o Aotearoa is stirring up memories.

Director Geoff Stevens and cameraman Leon Narby tracked the march from the Far North to Parliament steps, and their film gets a rare screening at the Film Archive Theatre in Wellington tonight.

Archive kaitiaki taonga Himiona Grace, who grew up in Plimmerton, can a still remember going on the march.

“We walked from Takapuwahia in Porirua to Wellington and I was only about 10, and I thought it was awesome, it was so awesome to be part of. Of course I didn’t understand the politics then. We weren’t allowed days off school back then, we had to be dead to get a day off school, and my parents told us we were going to have a day off school and march with the marchers from our cousins’ marae our in Porirua into Parliament, so it was awesome,” Grace said.

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