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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tribunal worth questioned

A Maori lawyer says the Waitangi Tribunal's refusal to take a firm stand against the creation of a new Trans-Tasman body which will regulate rongoa Maori and other drugs and remedies raises questions about the tribunal's value to Maori.

WAI 262 indigenous founa and flora claimants asked the tribunal to recommend the Government hold off introducing a bill setting up the Australia and New Zealand Therapeutic Products Authority until their claim was fully heard.

Instead, tribunal chairperson Joe Williams asked the Crown to consult with Maori on how rongoa should be regulated.

Chief Judge Williams said he could understand why officials might reach the view that Maori lack a real world understanding of public policy and the legislative process.

Ms Sykes says the tribunal has become a toothless tiger.

“Decisions like this start making one worry whether we should be using our intellectual capacity to protect the meager resource that we have got left through this forum, which seems to have totally distanced itself from the context of Maori concern and is making these kinds of disparaging comments,” Sykes said.

Annette Sykes says the claimants will push for a better consultation process.


A nationwide survery of Maori public health is finding unequal distribution of resources around the country.

Te Rau Matatini project leader Lucy Bush says that was the major issue which came out of a series of regional hui last week.

Mrs Bush says in areas such as Northland, Maori health workers must travel long distances to service their people, and they have little after hours support.

That contrasts which what can be expected in urban areas such as Wellington, where services can offer after hours care and don’t have to stretch resources so thinly.

Lucy Bush says getting an accurate picture of the state of the Maori public health sector will help Te Rau Matatini set priorities and seek resources for workforce development.


Ngati Hine leader Erima Henare says Ngapuhi has a role to play in the Kingitanga if it wants one.

The iwi is holding a hui on Friday to discuss how it should relate to the new Maori king, and who should speak for it at next month's hui at Pukawa by Lake Taupo to discuss national Maori structures.

Mr Henare says while much is made of historical conflicts between Ngapuhi and Tainui, the tribe most closely associated with the Kingitanga, they have much in common.

He says both Ngapuhi chairperson Sonny Tau and Taitokerau MP Hone Harawira have a direct connection.

“Sonny Tau and Hone Harawira’s tipuna Tamata Waka Nene and Patuone represented Ngapuhi at the hui at Pukawa 150 years ago and decide to select Te Wherowhero from Tainui as the first king,. This thing goes back a long way,” Henare said.


Hauraki treaty negotiator Harry Mikaere says taking claims to the Waitangi Tribunal can make iwi lose focus of their social responsibilities.

Mr Mikaere says now the tribunal has reported on the tribe's claim, the Hauraki Maori Trust Board is trying to address the social needs of its people.

It has become a provider for the Family Start programme in Waihi, and Mr Mikaere says it is looking at other social needs of Hauraki whanau.

“One of the things we’ve all got caught up in the past is the challenges of the settlements in the Waitangi Tribunal, and the focus has been too strongly put on that, and it’s had an effect on the social obligations we have. Hence we are moving in that direction as well and trying to build the whole process and capacity around our people,” Mikaere said.


Green Party Maori affairs spokesperson Meteria Turei says New Zealand should consider incorporating traditional Maori leadership structures in government.

Ms Turia was been attending a Commonwealth Parliamentarians Association Pacific region workshop on gender equity in the parliamentary process.

She says the most thought provoking contributions came from MPs from Samoa and Tonga, who talked about how representation by matai and nobles respectively created unique parliaments.

Ms Turei says Maori iwi may aspire to similar representation.

“In Aotearoa we have a hundred and something years of the Westminster system to have to cope with, and so reform would be much more difficult, but it is heartening to know that other countries are finding ways to recognise their traditional leadership systems within a western democratic system,” Turei said.


Former New Zealand and Maori rugby league captain Tawera Nikau says a strong sense of cultural identity can be positive for a professional career in sport.

Nikau, who will be working with the South Sydney Rabbitohs next year to mentor young Maori and Polynesian players, says there are many potential pitfalls for newcomers.

Players are well paid, and with time on their hands can fall in with bad company and bad habits such as womanising, drinking and drug taking.

Mr Nikau says rugby league bosses have recognised the importance of strong support structures.

“In Sydney there's a huge problem with second and third generation Pacific Island teenagers and Maori, who have lost a little bit of their identity, and they’re having a lot of issues of gangs, similar to here in New Zealand, and a lot of clubs in the NRL are trying to work back in the community,” Nikau said.


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