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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Treaty education still vital after 20 years

A veteran treaty educator says there is still a need to teach Pakeha and other tau iwi about the nation's founding document.

Treaty educators have met in Hamilton to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of Project Waitangi.

Spokesperson Mitzi Nairn says too much of the official material available emphasises the English version, and ignores the promises made in the Maori text or Te Tiriti.

Ms Nairn says there has also been a section of society which has been pushing back against the treaty and any recognition of Maori rights.

“There's been a lot of people who’ve kept their heads down and hoped it would all go away, and this last couple of years with people like Don Brash saying things that sound right out of the 1950s – and sometimes out of the 1850s – there’s always a lot of basic stuff stuff needs doing,” Nairn said.

Mitzi Nairn says it should be the right of every New Zealand child to learn about the treaty.


Youth Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta says more Maori families should consider fostering tamariki.

It's foster care awareness week, and the Tainui MP says the ccommunity should celebrate the contribution foster parents make to the lives of children and young people whose own families are experiencing difficulties.

Ms Mahuta says Maori have a particular interest in fostering and whangai situations, because of their experience over the years with some less than appropriate policies of welfare agencies.

“I'm certainly supporting calls from Maori foster providers who want to see more Maori foster families so that the placement of young Maori and Pasifika children can be made more appropriately in Maori and Pasifika families,” Mahuta said.

Nanaia Mahuta says it is less stressful on children if they are placed in families with similar cultural backgrounds.


A Maori mental health services worker says the number of kaupapa Maori and Pasifika providers in the field is a positive development.

Orrin Kapua from Te Whare Tiaki Trust attended yesterday's South Auckland Respect Awards ceremony, which acknowledged the work of mental health services in the region.

Mr Kapua says cultural factors play an important role in mental health, and the best people to help those undergoing difficulties are often those from the same background.

He says that was evident at the awards.

“It's great to see that ma tataou tatou e awhi ano, ourselves, Maori services, Pacific Island services, who are helping ourselves, our own people,” Kapua said.


Veteran treaty educator Mitzi Nairn says proposed changes to the school curriculum removing reference to the Treaty of Waitangi will short change a generation of students and set back attempts to create a more just society.

Treaty educators have just held their annual hui in Hamilton, which this year celebrated the 20th anniversary of the founding of Project Waitangi, a group of Pakeha people who took on the responsibility of raising Pakeha awareness of treaty issues.

Ms Nairn says over the years to Project Waitangi network has come to appreciate the need for education not just at the school level but in the wider community.

“If we don't keep breeding up ignorant twits, then we have a better chance of putting things in place, but it’s too easy to concentrate on young people, because in many ways they’re not as politically powerful as older peolle. I think we still need to push older people to take responsibility,” Nairn says.

Mitzi Nairn says the Treaty of Waitangi is a major part of what makes New Zealand special, which all New Zealanders should celebrate.


Green Party Maori Affairs spokesperson Metiria Turei says Maori leaders need to get involved in the climate change debate.

Ms Turei says other indigenous peoples look up to Maori because of their success in geting historical grievances recognised, and Maori leadership on climate change could have international significance.
She says they need to show what it really means to be kaitiaki of the whenua or guardians of the environment.

“Maori leadership needs to come out and say they are concerned about climate change and will do what they can to secure our own people’s future. We need to take it in our own hands as far as possible. Every marae and every hapu and every large Maori corporation needs to take as much responsibility for it as they can, and we can actually make a difference if we do it now,” Turei said.

Meteria Turei says Maori seem to be on both sides of the debate, with Ngati Porou planting forests which could reduce carbon emissions and Ngai Tahu cutting down forests and replacing them with dairy farms.


After an 18 month break, kaupapa Maori drug and alcohol services are again available in Invercargill.

Southland District Health Board has given a contract to run the service to Te Kete Matauranga Pounamu Trust, which also runs problem gambling and smoking cessation services as well as a mobile nursing service.

Trust chief executive Tracey Wright says the board recognised the effectiveness of Maori-focused programmes.

“I think they were reasonably aware but they were very robust in testing our ability to articulate the way that we want to do business, working in a community provider environment with a kaupapa Maori sort of philosophy and practice. We wanted to be sure they understood our model of delivery. They have been very supportive,” Wright says.

Tracey Wright says while the initial contract is for one year, Te Kete Matauranga Pounamu Trust is confident it can make the case for on going funding.


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