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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, March 30, 2007

Ngai Tamanuhiri first to finish fish settlement

Ngai Tamanuhiri has become the first iwi to complete the steps needed to get its full allocation under the Maori fisheries settlement.

The Poverty Bay tribe has already received the part of its settlement which is determined by its population, worth about 700 thousand dollars.

It needed to reach agreement with its neighbours before it could pick up the balance, which is based on coastline length.
Te Ohu Kaimoana chief executive Peter Douglas says Ngai Tamanuhiri will get just over $1 million dollars in inshore quota, freshwater fish stocks and their remaining deepwater quota.

Mr Douglas says there was a combination of tradition and pragmatism involved.

“With regards to Ngai Tamanuhiri and Ngati Kahungunu, they’ve got a point which they’ve long agreed was the spot that is between their two tribes, and with Rongowhakaata, they decided to take a pragmatic approach and divide the catch rather than try to argue over the territory,” Mr Douglas says.

The agreement is likely to encourage other iwi to move towards such pragmatic settlements.


Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says the Government should pay its own bills for managing Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

Crown managers have taken more than three million dollars in fees from the Wananga since former tertiary education minister Trevor Mallard sent them in two years ago, after refusing to hand over promised funding.

Current minister Michael Cullen says he wants to see the team from accountants Price Waterhouse Coopers stay in place at least until the end of the year, and for as long as they are needed after that.

Dr Sharples says there has been no benefits to Maori students from having the Crown managers in place.

“You know the benefits have been benefits for government, to satisfy their requirements and their needs, and they’re operating on a different sort of kaupapa to the wananaga,” Dr Sharples says.

He says the Crown's presence prevents the wananga getting on with what it's good at, educating and empowering Maori.


Other Maori providers are scrambling to fill the gap in drug and alcohol services after the Canterbury District Health Board cancelled a contract with Christchurch-based Te Rito Arahi.

The board said it did not believe Te Rito Arahi could fulfill its obligations under the $340,000 contract.

Winiata Brown from He Waka Tapu, which provides similar services, says while the move is regrettable, transparency and quality service come first.

“It's very sad but in saying that I’m very supportive too of having robust Maori providers providing good quality service to our people, so I don’t think there should be any compromises made on that level,” Mr Brown says.

He says Canterbury District Health Board needs to act quickly so Te Rito Arahi's clients have continuity of care.


The Maori vice president of the Council of Trade Unions says many Maori will benefit from an increase in the minimum wage, which comes into effect on Sunday.

Sharon Clair says it has been an eight-year battle by the union movement to secure the increase for the country's most vulnerable workers.

She says the increase to $11.25 an hour is small but significant.

“There's 14 percent of Maori earning under $12 an hour now. We earn about 83 percent of what non-Maori earn, and if you’re a Maori woman they you’re earning about 79 percent,” Ms Clair says.


Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says the $3 million dollars charged to Te Wananga o Aotearoa by Crown-appointed managers is a disgrace.

Accountants from Price Waterhouse Coopers have been in charge of the wananga's books since the Government seized control in March 2005, alleging poor financial management.

Dr Sharples says the Government seems determined to crush the wananga's entreprenurial spirit and take away the culture that made it at one time the country's largest tertiary institution.

“The wananga operates on ‘there is a need, get the education out there, empower our people, enable our people, and do it however best suits our people.’ On the other hand the ministry has its own regulations that say ‘you can’t do that and you can’t do that and you can’t do that,,” Dr Sharples says.

He says instead of paying people to manage managers, the $3 million could have been spent on education for Maori.


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