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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anzac Day chance for Malaya look

The national secretary of the Malayan Veterans Association says the veterans are only slowly getting the acknowledgement they're due.

Jim Perry from Ngati Porou says Anzac Day programmes have mostly overlooked the contribution made by New Zealand forces in Malaya in the late 1950's and early 1960s.

He says the veterans are keen to take a greater role.

“We are overlooked and we are almost a forgotten group of people, even though there were 35,000 of us who were sent to Malaya. About 60 to 65 percent were Maori. The Maori volunteers made up the biggest proportion of all the battalions that left New Zealand,” Mr Perry says.

Most of the soldiers who served in Vietnam had already done a tour of duty in Malaya.


The Prime Minister says the kohanga reo movement has proved a solid foundation not just for children but for helping young mothers learn skills needed in the workforce.

Helen Clark says the movement’s contribution should be celebrated during Mana Wahine week this week.

She says it has been the catalyst for many Maori women to move into higher study and build careers.

“The skills they the skills they got there increased their confidence to then go on to work, and I think that’s terrific. Look at the confidence within Maoridom now as people know there is a chance out there for you, particularly if you stay in school a bit longer and get some qualifications, which you can then move up the staircase. Great week to be showing pride in mana wahine,” Ms Clark says.


The head of the Maori Tourism Council says the relationship Maori have with their ancestral lands is a selling point for overseas visitors.

Johnny Edmonds says while the traditional focus for promotions has been scenic beauty, tourists are now more interested in experiences that are out of the ordinary.

He says that's something that Maori-run tourism ventures can offer, and they should be marketed more effectively.

“New Zealand is not just a destination like any other destination. New Zealand is an experience because of the combination of people and landscape and Maori association with their ancestral lands and the stories there are one of the keys we believe going forward from New Zealand,” Mr Edmonds says.


A Maori Vietnam veteran says many of those who fought in South East Asia still don’t get into the spirit of Anzac Day because of the way they were treated.

Kingi Taurua was the third New Zealander to be wounded in the campaign, and says successive governments have failed to properly address the health concerns of those who fought in Vietnam.

He says those who served in Vietnam weren’t welcomed home, and many kept their service secret for years because of anti war protests.
Mr Taurua says even on Anzac day, he and many of his Maori comrades still feel on the outer.

“When I came back from overseas, I was really reluctant to join the RSA or to attend Anzac day, and even now they have what they call a Vietnam day every year, and I’ve never never attended those days. I don’t want to do to those commemorations to remember the foolishness of war,” Mr Taurua says.


The Prime Minister is rejecting claims that migration is bad for Maori,

Immigration policy has come under fire in recent weeks from Maori Party and New Zealand First MPs who say new migrants take many low skill jobs which previously went to Maori and Pacific Island people.

Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia says many migrants have little or no understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi or tangata whenua, so are less likely to support Maori initiatives.

But Helen Clark says while new arrivals might not know much at first about where Maori fit in, they are interested.

“I think they're overall pretty open and receptive to listening to what Maori have to say. I mix a great deal with new migrant communities in my own electorate in Auckland and the wider Auckland area, and I’ve found them actually incredibly respectful of Maori and interested and wanting to know more,” she says.

Ms Clark says migrants are needed to replace the steady flow of New Zealanders who take their skills overseas.


National's Maori Affairs spokesperson says setting new national standards for graduating teachers may not be the most effective way to address the needs of Maori students.

The new students include things like appropriate use of Maori language and customs and the recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi.

But Tau Henare says the resources might have been better used in expanding Te Kotahitanga programme, which is delivering improvements in student achievement in the handful of schools using it.

“If they are looking for a programme that will boost not only the competence of the teachers but also the skill level of the teachers in being able to deal with our kids, then may be they should all be looking at Te Kotahitanga instead of coming up with some new fandangled standards,” Mr Henare says.

He says Te Kotahitanga methods should be taught in training colleges.


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