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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, October 13, 2006

Waitangi bill would cripple tribunal

A long serving former member of the Waitangi Tribunal says New Zealand First's plan to exclude serving judges from the tribunal would damage its ability to deliver authorative reports of Maori treaty claims.

The Treaty of Waitangi (Removal of Conflict of Interest) Amendment Bill was drawn out of the ballot yesterday and will go before Parliament soon.

New Zealand First MP Pita Paraone says by stopping Maori Land Court or High Court judges from serving on the tribunal, it will remove any suspicion of bias or conflict of interest.

But Victoria University emeritus law professor Gordon Orr, who served on the Tribunal for more than a decade and wrote a book about its operations, says bias has never been an issue for the Tribunal.

Professor Orr says a lot of the tribunal's work involves working through old land court records, and the specialist skills developed by land court judges has proved invaluable.

“It would exclude people who are extremely well qualified to be a member and can make a valuable contribution, and who have of course right from the original appointment of Chief Judge Durie,” Orr said.

Gordon Orr says the existence of the Waitangi Tribunal has resulted in major progress in settling Maori grievances.

HUI SETS EDUCATION PRIORITIES

Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia says recruitment and retention of Maori teachers, and a new Maori curriculum are high priorities for the government.

Mr Horomia and Education Minister Steve Maharey attended last weekend's fifth Hui Taumata Matauranga Maori education summit hosted by Ngati Tuwharetoa in Taupo.

He says many of the issues raised are already in hand.

“Both myself and the Minister of Education Steve Maharey have given commitments to ensuring that we have a full Maori curriculum our by next June, that we look seriously at teacher supply, it’s no good having a strong Maori language strategy or science employment area where there is a lot of opportunities for our people and we haven’t got the teachers,” Horomia said.

Parekura Horomia says while many Maori students are keen to strengthen their understanding of te reo me ona tikanga, they also need help in subjects like science and technology where there are likely to be increased work opportunities over the next decade.

POWERLIFTER HAPPY WITH SECOND PLACING

No time to rest for a Ngapuhi powerlifter just back from the world championships in the United States.

Auckland-based Willie Tau won the world title in India two years ago, but this year had to settle for second place in the super heavyweight division.

Mr Tau says but he's satisfied with that performance, coming as it did after an eleven month layoff due to injury.

He was proud of the efforts by the three kiwis at the champs, and especially the back to back win for Ngati Kahungunu lifter, Maria Brightwater Wharf in the under 60m kilo class.

Mr Tau says he is getting ready for the North Island championships next month, before defending his Oceania title in Townsville, Australia in December.

Then there will be a chance to rest before next year's world powerlifting championships, in Prague.

WAIPAREIRA WANTING TO KEEP KIDS FROM JAIL

A West Auckland Maori trust says it's time to take control of the Maori community back from the criminal justice system.

Te Whanau o Waipareira executive director John Tamihere says too many young Maori are getting into trouble with the law, because of systemic failures of government systems.

Mr Tamihere says Waipareira is setting up a rapid response team to identify children who are going off the rails and work with their families to address their social and learning problems.

“The key performance indicators will be a drop in family violence, a lift in our literacy numeracy capacituyes in Maori children and a drop in youth offending so we do not have them going from youth justice facilities to Mount Eden and Paremoremo or Ngawha and Waikato new prisons,” Tamihere said.

NGAPUHI CLAIM GROUP TO TAKE CHOICE TO IWI

The Ngapuhi treaty claims design group is planning a series of hui to get directions from tribal members as to whether the tribe should proceed with Waitangi Tribunal hearings or negotiate directly with the Crown.

Project manager Sonny Tau, the chairperson of the Ngaphui Runanga, says substantial progress has been made on how the claims should be structured.

He says as well as claims over land and water, the iwi also has concerned the Maori version of the Treaty of Waitangi has not been given sufficient weight.

Mr Tau says Ngapuhi is taking a different approach because it's keen to retain control of the claim process.

“It has been seen in other areas where the lawyers have more or less taken over the direction of the claims and the claimants become subservient and it becomes a drama driven by the lawyers and the legal profession, whereas Ngapuhi, I think we have people who can stand up and talk for themselves,” Tau said.

Sonny Tau says there will be four consultation hui in the north, to in Auckland on October 30 and 31, and one each in Wellington and Christchurch.

FUTURE EDUCATION MAPPED

The dean of Auckland University's Education faculty says technology should give all students better access to learning.

Dr John Langley was a major contributor to the Secondary Futures, Students First report released yesterday.

He says the learning environment for high school students will be radically different to what is available now.

Students will be able to choose where they study, and won't be forced to do all their schooling on one campus.

“I think Maori kids could benefit hugely from this. Now we have a situation where the technology we have enables everyone to get it. Technology is a great leveler, so it doesn’t matter if you are sitting in a mansion in Remuera or in a place somewhere else, you can have access to the same information in the same way at the same time,” Langley said.

John Langley says in future schools are likely to specialise in particular subjects, including Maori, rather than trying to offer all curriculum areas to all students.

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