Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Maori unemployment down to 8.5%

The Government's Working for Families package is being credited with bringing the Maori unemployment rate down its lowest point in 20 years.

A Labour Department report has found the rate of Maori moving into work has been higher than the average over the past year, and the jobless rate now stands at 8.5 percent. That compares with a Pakeha rate of 2.6 percent.

Social policy researcher Charles Waldegrave says the Working for Families policy ensures low income people with children will get more by working than by collecting a benefit.

He says the policy recognises the limitations of the benefit system.

“If you can also put money into that group that just gets into work, but is in pretty precarious work and pretty low paying work, and add dollars to it, it seems to get people into a position where they gain confidence and they move through the labor market as a whole, and I think that’s what you’re seeing happening here,” Waldegrave says.

Mr Waldegrave says as well as the drop in the dole queue, the number of Maori receiving the domestic purposes benefit is also falling.


The president of the Maori Party says he gives his four MPs eight out of 10 for their performance over the past year.

At the party's hui a tau in Christchurch, Whatarangi Winiata says the party needs to build on the momentum it has created and capture the rest of the Maori seats from Labour.

Professor Winiata says it has identified a number of key areas where party members will need to contribute.

“Fundraising, that’s going to be quite critical to having a greater impact on the electorate in 2008. There is ongoing work on policy generation and refinement. Straddling all these is the planning, and we had a very good session on that,” Winiata said.


The first Te Rarawa Festival starts today, with the Kaitaia-based tribe expecting thousands of members to come back for a week of celebrations and sport and cultural events.

Te Rarawa runanga member Haami Piripi says the festival is part of the iwi's drive for economic and social growth.

He says the iwi wants its people to learn how to become economically self-sufficient.

“In many ways we’ve given up on the idea we are going to be catered to by the New Zealand economy because it doesn’t seem to be happening, we’re still last on and first off. We need to create our own opportunities utilizing our own assets and our ingenuity and our entrepreneurial skills to be able to do it well,” Piripi said.

Haami Piripi says the Te Rarawa Festival is a way for the tribe to reach out to members wherever they are.


Labour list MP Shane Jones says possible changes to penal policy signaled at the Labour Party conference could make a marked impact on Maori.

Mr Jones says because violent crime and domestic violence disproportionally affect Maori communities, those communities need to get behind policies which can make a difference.
He says many Labour policies such as Working for Families have already had a positive impact on communities, but there are always a few families who are responsible for much of the crime and social disruption.

“Sharp focus on them in bringing the full force of the law so it limits their activities would be a fantastic companion to the handsome policies associated with family assistance etc, because that is having a fantastic impact on a wide number of people and it is now time to focus on this pocket of recidivism,” Jones aid.

Shane Jones says Maori community and iwi groups tend to know where the problems are, but they often don't have the resources to do anything.


Ngapuhi's treaty claim design team is holding a hui in Papakura today to report progress to date to tribe members living in Auckland.

Design team member Titewhai Harawira says the feedback from previous hui held in the north was that tribe members are dissatisfied with the way the Crown wants to settle claims.

Mrs Harawira says what is most important is the return of Ngapuhi taonga.

“Our people are also saying that when the Crown comes to talk, it comes with an empty kete. Ngapuhi is saying, our maunga, our rivers, our DOC land, our minerals and our white sands, those are our taonga and they should never be part of a treaty settlement, they should come back to Ngapuhi as of right,” Harawira said.


New Zealand's community driven model of language revival is set to be included in an international documentary.

Trevor Moeke from Te Wananga o Aotearoa says a film crew from the California-based Kalliopeia philanthropic foundation will be in the country next month to film material of how kohanga reo, kura and wananga are contributing to the revitalisation of Maori.

Mr Moeke says the contact came through the World Indigenous People's Higher Education Council, which the wananga set up to promote its philosophies of encouraging peoples to hold on to their cultures.

“So the Kalliopeia Foundation has responded because they’re interested in language revitalization, but also in terms of the traditional knowledge and how that might assist in diplomacy, in the operations of democracy, community building, the opportunities created by education. Those are the kind of things they stand for,” Mokeke said.


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