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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tribunal refuses rongoa recommendation

The Waitangi Tribunal has turned down an application by Maori healers for a recommendation the government delay the introduction of a bill next week setting up the Australia and New Zealand Therapeutics Authority.

Instead Chief Judge Joe Williams says the Crown and Wai 262 fauna and flora claimants should consult on how traditional Maori medicines can be exempted from regulation, and how Maori can be involved in any commercialisation of rongoa.

Annette Sykes, the lawyer for Maori organic growers association Te Waka Kai Ora, says her clients are disappointed with the recommendation, given the minimal consultation the government has had with Maori over the 10 years it has been working on setting up the new regime.

“They also are doubtful given that there is this big new relationship partner called Australia, as part of the equation, that they will get a treaty compliant process that’s endorsed by both the New Zealand and Australian governments. The Australian government is of course a problem , mainly because of their own difficulties in recognising the indigenous rights and customs of their own indigenous peoples,” Sykes said.

Annette Sykes says Wai 262 claimants met today to discuss what kind of consultation process they want with the Crown.


The head of one of the largest Maori fishing companies says a Labour Department plan to set minimum pay rates for foreign workers in New Zealand waters will hit iwi revenues.

The department wants to boost pay for fishers to at least $12.75 an hour, which is above the minimum wage paid on shore.

Richard Batley from Raukura Moana Fisheries says his Hamilton-based company already pays above minimum wages to the Polish and Russian crews who work on its charters.

Mr Batley says the change would add $1.5 million to $2 million to Raukura Moana's wage bill.

“In terms of this particular proposed legislation, it has the effect of eating into our operating revenue and making things almost marginal for the company to operate,” Batley said.

Richard Batley says both iwi companies and the charter fishers are happy with current arrangements.


A kura kaupapa principal who stood for Destiny New Zealand at the last election says of the demise of the Christian Heritage Party is not unexpected.

Christican Heritage has called it quits after 17 years because of fall out from the conviction of former leader Graeme Capill on child molestation charges.

Hawea Vercoe says Christian political initiatives face similar challenges to those promoting a Maori kaupapa.

“The problem the Christianity is very similar to Maoridom in terms of trying to get unity. Trying to get people to come on board and work together as Maori is sometimes as hard as trying to get Christians on board to work as Christians. It’s a huge challenge,” Vercoe said.


Wai 262 fauna and flora claimants want the Crown to act quickly on a Waitangi Tribunal recommendation that Maori be consulted on how the new Australia and New Zealand Therapeutic Products Authority will operate.

Lawyer Annette Sykes says a tribunal interim report falls short of what the claimants asked for, which was for the government to hold off setting up the authority until the claim is completed.

But she says the report did confirm that Maori have an interest in commercial exploitation of traditional Maori medicines or rongoa.

Ms Sykes says the pressure is on the Crown to improve the consultation process.

“What our claimants are clear for is they want a commitment from the Crown that Maori will control both the regulation and management of rongoa Maori whether it’s by way of commercial rongoa and services or by way of tohunga kind of practices that are undertaken at the moment,” Sykes said.


The AIDs Foundation says Maori need to support their whanau who are infected with the HIV virus.

The Otago School of Medicine has found an alarming increase in the number of heterosexual Maori women living with the disease.

Foundation executive director Rachel le Mesurier says they need support to overcome the stigma attached to the virus.

“Stigma is still very much an issue, particularly for Maori women and Maori heterosexual men, because the numbers are so low. And again I think one of the keys for Maori women and heterosexual men and obviously homosexual men, the safest place for them is the whanau and their supportive communities,” le Mesurier said.


A Ngati Hine leader says Ngapuhi needs to look at what they have in common with Kingitanga, rather than dwell on differences.

The northern tribe is holding a hui in Kaikohe on Friday to discuss the relationship it should have Maoridom's oldest political institution.

Erima Henare says the New King Tuheitia is already connected to the north through his Te Aupouri paternal grandmother and his late mother, who shared an ancestor with Ngati Hine.

“In King Tuheitia we have the coming together of those two Ngaphui lines of Waimirirangi through his father, Whatumoana, and Hineamaru through his mother, through Te Rongopatutonga, so to say Tuheitia is not Ngapuhi would definitely roll against the whakapapa, so something Ngapuhi definitely has to think about that this king now carries their whakapapa,” Henare said.

Erima Henare says Tamata Waka Nene, the ancestor of current Ngapuhi chairperson Sommy Tau, represented Ngapuhi at Pukawa 150 years ago whent he first Maori King was chosen.


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