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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Crown forestry surplus for Maori purposes

Finance Minister Michael Cullen says any money left over in the Crown Forestry Rental Trust after forestry claims are settled will be used for Maori purposes.

The Trust holds the rents for land under former state forests, and uses the interest to finance claim research and negotiation.

If claimants win their claims, they are entitled to the back rents as well as the land.

Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia has asked officials to investigate whether assets held by the trust and other Crown and Maori bodies can be used to as the basis for a Maori development bank.

Mr Cullen told the finance and expenditure select committee yesterday that he is keen to see forestry claims settled quickly.

“Mr Horomia and I both have a very very strong ambition to try to see rapid progress made if at all possible, because we believe that there will be a significant fund left over at the end of the day, which would be able to be used, we hope, for strong Maori economic and social development,” Cullen said.

Michael Cullen says the sooner claims to central North Island forests can be settled, the sooner the Crown Forestry Rental Trust can be wound up,

TRIBUNAL DELAY PUTS PRESSURE ON CLAIMANT UNITY

Rangitane claimant Richard Bradley says delays in getting a Waitangi Tribunal report out on top of the South Island claims are putting increasing pressure on the claimant community.

The tribunal has advised the eight Te Tau Ihu iwi that a report won't now be available until the end of next year.

Mr Bradley says the problem seems to be that the tribunal can't keep hold of the necessary staff, because they get poached by other government departments.

He says the iwi are keen to get the claims settled and move on.

“The more delays that are put in our way, it means the really tenuous infrastructure we have to try to drive this settlement comes under stress. People aren’t available, people can’t just take time out of their life to be available when the Crown negotiators have finished their holidays, finished their travel, or finished their career path development,” Richard Bradley says.

MAORI ART GETS BOOST ON AUCTION FLOOR

Contemporary Maori art is finding increasing acceptance by New Zealanders.

Webb's Auctions fine arts manager Ben Plumley says younger art buyers are paying increasingly higher prices for work by contemporary Maori artists.

He says much of the interest seems to be in the way Maori artists approach their material.

“It's just an extension of the country’s broadening interest in Maoridom. Young Maori today have a specially interesting and fascinating take on the state of the country and where we are heading, and they seem to be able to express very coherently and in a manner which people find fascinating,” Plumley says.

ONLY MINOR BREACH LIKELY IN BILLION DOLLAR CAP

Finance Minister Michael Cullen says it is unlikely a billion dollar cap on treaty settlements will be exceeded.

The cap was set by the previous National government.

Labour has said it is not bound by the policy, but it is keen to preserve the relativities between settlements so some tribes aren't getting significantly more than others of a similar size.

If the cap is breached, the first tribes to settle, Tainui and Ngai Tahu, must be given extra to ensure their settlements remain at 17 percent of the total.

Mr Cullen told the finance and expenditure select committee yesterday that as far as the Crown is concerned, the final total is still expected to be about 1 billion in 1994 dollars, even though the nominal dollar figure will be higher.

“And on one set of scenarios, the relativity clause wouldn’t be triggered at all, and on another set of scenarios, there will be modest triggering of the relativity clauses,” Cullen said.

Michael Cullen says he does not know what data Waitangi Tribunal chairperson chief judge Joe Williams used in his estimate that by the time all historical claims are settled in about 2020, post-settlement tribes will have about $3 billion in commercial assets.

CHILD POVERTY GROUP TO CHALLENGE POLICIES

The Child Poverty Action Group say many government policies discriminate against children from low income families.

The High Court has granted the group status to act on behalf of 175,000 children in working and beneficiary families it says are living in poverty.

Economic spokesperson Susan St John says schemes such as Working for Families mask poverty rather than addressing it.

Dr St John the gap between families that fit the criteria and those who don't is widening.

“The in-work payment, we argue, has been the substitute for properly adjusting Family Support fort all children, and by only going to selected children and leaving others out, it’s created far too big a gap between those that get it and those that don't,” she says.

Dr Susan St John says Maori and Pacific Island children are disproportionately represented in the poverty statistics.

WAHAWAHA PHOTO APPEARS AT AUCTION



A postcard sized photograph of nineteenth century East Coast leader Ropata Wahawaha and his second in command Thomas William Porter has turned up at auction.

The photo, which was taken around 1870 by Napier photographer George Swan, sold for $3000, more than six times the reserve price.

International Art Centre director Richard Thomson says there's a growing demand for items from that era.

“There's obviously historical interest in early New Zealand and particularly these Maori subjects. They’re part of our history and they’ll never be repeated and there wasn’t a lot of photography around in those days. With an increasing amount of interest in the photography market, it’s not a surprise to see 19th century photographs highly sought after,” Thomson said.

(pic International Art Centre)

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