Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ministers take control of treaty and sales

Treaty ministers will take a more hands-on role in the disposal of surplus Crown land.

Claimants are occuping Landcorp farms in the far north and Coromandel, which the state owned company put on the market with the approval of the Office of Treaty Settlements.

Associate Treaty Negotiations Minister Mita Ririnui says some claimant groups want surplus Landcorp properties, and the government now recognises some decisions need to be made at the political rather than the bureaucratic level.

“And myself and my colleague, the honourable Mark Burdon, are working towards some sort of protocol where we can at least know what land’s coming up for disposal or recommended for disposal so we can have some dialogue with Landcorp and offer up a number of suggestions on how we can get an amicable outcome,” Mr Ririnui says.

He has no comment on the suggestion by Landcorp chairperson Jim Sutton that the Office of Treaty Settlements had made a mistake of judgment in approving the sales.


Meanwhile, Hauraki spokesperson John McInteer says all New Zealanders have a stake in his tribe's occupation of Whenuakite Station.

Representatives of other Tainui waka tribes gathered at the 11 hundred hectare coastal farm near Whitianga to support the protest against its sale.

Mr McEnteer says Landcorp's current sell-off of surplus properties has grave consequences.

“While for us it is about treating claims and getting justice and seeing those matters resolved, I think the very important issue for the general community is it is about keeping this land for New Zealanders, it is about keeping this land in the hands of New Zealanders,” Mr McEnteer says.

He says the sale of Whenuakite, within months of the Waitangi Tribunal releasing its report on Hauraki claims, shows the government's treaty negotiations and settlement strategy has failed.


A Samoan artist is using a Maori language interpretation of a Shakespeare play to explore the effects of colonial conquest on the Pacific.

Lemi Ponifasio's version of The Tempest will run as part of next month's Auckland Festival.

Mr Ponifasio says the play deals with issues like exile, imprisonment and the loss of sovereign rights, so he has invited Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui and Tuhoe activist Tame Iti to take part.

“It is a symbolic thing to give voice to what people are trying to say in their own language, because the language, it’s really the unique door of one’s own existence so I think using te reo is the only way to tell a Maori story,” Mr Ponifasio says.

He intends to take The Tempest to Europe later in the year.


Tainui chairperson Tukoroirangi Morgan says the whole Tainui waka will seek a meeting with the Government over the sale of Landcorp's Whenuakite Station.

Representatives from Waikato, Maniapoto and Ngati Raukawa joined Hauraki to walk over the Coromandel ocean-side land today.

Landcorp was supposed to decide on a buyer this week, but Treaty Negotiations Minister Mark Burdon told Parliament this afternoon that the SOE's board will delay the decision until it consults with stakeholding ministers.

Mr Morgan says the ministers also need to meet with Hauraki and the rest of the waka.

“What we are seeking, as the chairs of the four Tainui waka, an audience with the stakeholding ministers that we would want to reiterate the position of parking the land until the settlement negotiations with Hauraki are complete and we’re looking for a measure of goodwill to enable that to happen,” Mr Morgan says.

He says it makes no sense for the Crown to create fresh grievances while it is trying to settle old ones.


Outgoing Maori language commission chief executive Haami Piripi says he wishes he could have done more in his 35 year public service career.

Mr Piripi stepped down this week after seven years at the commission, and he is returning to work for his iwi Te Rarawa in the far north.

Mr Piripi helped develop programmes including the Ma Te Reo community Maori language fund, the Korero Maori information programme, the Maori Language Week awards and the revival of observance of Matariki, the Maori New Year.

Mr Piripi says he's proud of what he tried to achieve, but it's hard to achieve permanent change.

“I’ve found that some of the things I have done have been really wonderful things but they’ve either lacked some political clout or they’ve lacked some public understanding or they’ve lacked some internal commitment by individual public servants to see it delivered and one way or another it seems to have been thwarted,” Mr Piripi says.

A new chief executive will be chosen this week.


Manukau's parks department is trying to open peoples' eyes to the evidence of early Maori settlement around the city.

Ranger Michael Ngatai says the new Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve on the Mangere foreshore is one of the gems in the city's park system.

The department is offering free historical tours of several parks, including Clevedon Scenic Reserve, Hampton Park, Mangere Mountain and the Mangemangeroa Reserve.

But Mr Ngatai says Otauataua is extremely special.

“It is a site where evidence of Maori occupation is still visible today. You can still see early whare or archaeological remnants from those whare. When you are walking through that reserve, you can identify how those people once lived,” Mr Ngatai says.

As well as talking about the history and culture, the guides will talk about the native plants, birds and insects in the reserves


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