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Monday, November 06, 2006

Ngapuhi suspends social services head

Northland's Ngapuhi runanga has suspended the board and chief executive of its social services arm.

Ngapuhi chairperson Sonny Tau says a Whangarei accountant has been called in to review the company's accounts, and other professionals will be brought in to review the organisation's management and governance.

Mr Tau says concerns arose about the time of Ngapuhi's annual meeting last week, where Ngapuhi Iwi Social Service reported a $147 thousand profit on revenue of 1.8 million in the year to june.

“There's been some serious allegations made that require investigation, therefore, we are using this opportunity to conduct a comprehensive review of the Ngapuhi Iwi Social Services governance and its management practices, given that a lot of its income is around government contracts,” Tau says.

Sonny Tau says staff will continue to deliver the company's contracts for crown agencies like Child Youth and Family Services and Education.

MAORI FARMERS WANT MORE MILK SAY

Maori dairy farmers want a bigger stay in the activities of dairy giant Fonterra.

Fonterra chairperson Henry Van Der Heyden was a keynote speaker at the Federation of Maori Authorities annual hui at Rotorua over the weekend, and took part in a workshop on issues in the sector.

FOMA executive vice president Paul Morgan says Maori make up the biggest bloc of Fonterra shareholders, but Fonterra's regional voting system means they have little influence at the shareholders council or board levels.

Mr Morgan says there are specific issues for Maori.

“Because of the nature of the way we hold our land, we’re essentially cornerstone shareholders of Fonterra, perpetual landowners, we don’t exit the businesses, and therefore we have special needs, and we have been trying to discuss those issues with Fonterra," Morgan says.

Paul Morgan says some Maori incorporations have already investigated taking their capital out of Fonterra, including some who are investing in dairy ventures in Australia.

WARETINI LOOKS FOR COMEBACK

A Maori balladeer is looking at making a bridge back into the world of performing.

Deane Waretini is putting together a show for concerts in Auckland, Wellington and Rotorua early next year.

Waretini is known for The Bridge, the first song in Maori to get widespread radio play and still a favourite with Maori audiences.

Waretini last performed in Perth in the 1980s, but he's itching to tread the boards again.

“Putting a big show, I’ll have an entourage of about 31 people. I feel so itchy to get out and sing when I see the Howard Morrison ads come ion, I think it’s lovely, and that’s the sort of thing you have to do now to get across,” Waretini says.

NGAPUHI SERVICES WILL CONTINUE

The Ngapuhi Runanga says delivery of government health and welfare contracts will continue despite the head of its social services arm stepping aside pending investigation.

Runanga chairperson Sonny Tau says allegations against the company and its chief executive, Arapeta Hamilton, emerged last week about the time of the Northland iwi's annual meeting.

Mr Tau says a Whangarei accountant has been called in to oversee a comprensive review of the company's accounts and its governance.

He says Mr Hamilton and the company's board stepped aside while the investigation is done.

“There's nothing in the allegations at this point and we’ve moved to ensure that service carries on uninterrupted. All the contracts continue to be delivered on time and on budget,” Tau says.

RATING SYSTEM REVIEW SHOULD BE ROYAL

The Federation of Maori Authorities wants a royal commission into the rating system.

Executive vice chairperson Paul Morgan says the local government rating inquiry announced last week doesn't go far enough.

Mr Morgan says while councils moan about unpaid rates on Maori land, Foma members complain they are significant ratepayers but they get minimal services.

He says a big component of rates is a wealth tax, especially on coastal land.

“Well that's fine in a system where you have got soaring land values and people can actually exit by sale of their land and receive the capital improvement value of that land, but essentially we are not in that market, we are not participating in that, so why should we be paying essentially a wealth tax,” Morgan says.

Paul Morgan says rating was a major topic of discussion at this weekend's Federation of Maori Authorities conference.

MAIORO WAAHI TAPU SITES PROTECTED FROM LOGGING

Ngati Te Ata is hoping Crown Forestry won't appeal an Environment Court ruling which block the harvest of four blocks of the Waiuku State Forest on the north head of the Waikato River.

Spokesperson Nganeko Minhinnick says the blocks include areas where the iwi's ancestors are buried.

Judge David Sheppard ruled that logging the forest ignored the iwi's relationship with its waahi tapu.

Mrs Minhinnick says the land was supposed to be returned to the iwi in 1990, but a change of government meant its settlement was put on hold indefinitely.

She says the Environment Court decision was a welcome relief after years of trying to get Crown agencies to listen to the iwi's concerns.

“If it enables people to better understand our position as kaitiaki, that’s helpful. I don’t think it’s a happy moment to keep going into court to have determination of who you are and what you are all about all the time,” Minihinick says.

Nganeko Minhinick says the forests on the land are virtually worthless, and the only point of logging would be to clear the land for mining by New Zealand - which the iwi also opposes.

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