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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Gardiner Key contact for te ao Maori

National's leader John Key says he's doing what he can to repair what has been a rocky relationship between his party and Maori.

Mr Key has been getting out to marae in various tribal areas to hear Maori concerns.

He says the people have been very welcoming, and he's getting guidance on how to proceed from a former head of the Ministry of Maori development.

“I'm lucky to have someone like Wira Gardiner, and Wira’s had a long association with the party. He’s been Maori vice president for a long period of time, He’s hugely knowledgeable in those areas and has helped me a lot,” Mr Key says.
He says many Maori believe National will win the next election, and they want reassurance they will be treated fairly by the new government.


The new draft school curriculum is getting qualified support from teachers and sector groups, but Maori academic Rawiri Taonui says it should have made te reo Maori compulsory.

Colmar Brunton analysis of the 9 thousand submissions received by the Education Ministry about 80 per cent of respondents felt the draft reinforced the direction schools are going, and 72 per cent of thought it provided the right amount of flexibility.

Mr Taonui, the head of Maori and indigenous studies at Canterbury University, says schools can teach about the Treaty of Waitangi, they don't have to.

“The Treaty's a foundation document for our country, we have large immigration at the moment and migrants will come in and their children will go to school. They won’t know a key ingredient in our history. There’s encouragements to broaden the options in te reo, which is good, but they’re only optional,” Mr Taonui says.

He wants all school teachers to be competent in te reo Maori.


A Taranaki woman has found a new use for harakeke.

Joanne Tito has is using paper made from the native flax to print photographs.

She says harakeke paper is excellent for photographic use because it's strong and stable.

Tito, who also has an interest in rongoa or Maori healing, says the paper gives her work a direct connection to the land.

“Here in Taranaki with the harakeke, there’s so much harakeke here, and harakeke’s very much a resource that our tipuna used a lot, so there’s that connection as well, and it’s just a wonderful medium to work with,” she says.

Tito is off to the United States next month to exhibit her photos in a gallery in Arizona.


A treaty historian says the place for treaty education is in schools, not on the back of a truck.

Paul Moon from Auckland University of Technology says the Treaty 2-U Roadshow, which is being taken round the country by Te Papa, the National Archives and the National Library, is a waste of millions of dollars.

Professor Moon says there seems little public interest in the roadshow, and it's a desperate effort by the government to show some commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.

He says the only way to achieve greater understanding is to make treaty education compulsory in schools.

“If the treaty had a good presence in the education system and a compulsory presence so you had to know about it, then within a generation you’d get a whole group of people who’re sort of familiar with it, and the consequence of that is a lot of the antagonism that exists in a lot of the public now towards treaty settlements would change. If people became educated as to why these claims existed in the first place, they’d be less inclined to oppose them,” Mr Moon says.

Treaty 2-U project manager Kit O'Connor says the roadshow has had more than 30,000 visitors from Waitangi to Gore, and it is over-booked with schools who want to get a concentrated lesson in the nation's founding document.


There are no simple answers to problems of Maori health.

That's the warning from Teresa Wall, the acting deputy director general of Maori health.

Ms Wall says the Health Ministry needs to work with other government agencies to address the various issues which contribute to the negative patterns of Maori health.

“It's usually framed as though if Maori would only pull iup their socks. If that was the simple answer, we’d have done it. The issue is it’s much more complex so a lot of the causes of Maori ill health if you like sit outside of the health sector,” Ms Wall says.

She says better access to good housing, jobs and education are key factors in turning around negative Maori health statistics.


Tainui will reinforce its historic links with Taranaki by taking the kawe mate of the late Maori queen to the annual Maui Pomare commemoration in Waitara in June.

Waikato kaumaatua Taotahi Pihama says the decision to carry the spirit of Dame Te Atairangikaahu to Owae Marae acknowledgement of the close ties between the areas which share a history of raupatu or land confiscation.

Mr Pihama who is also of Taranaki descent says the link between the two stretches back a long way.

“The relationship between Tainui and Taranaki in terms of Kingitanga is very close because of Potatau Te Wherowhero and his relation to Whiti and Tohu. It seemed natural for them to do the kawe mate on Sir Maui Pomare Day, awesome symbol of kotahitanga,” Mr Pihama says.


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