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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Imigrants no excuse for Maori failure

Former immigration minister Tuariki Delamere says claims immigration is hurting Maori aren't backed by the evidence.

Massey University economist Greg Clydesdale says 40 percent of migrants are unskilled or low skilled people allowed in on humanitarian or family reunification grounds, and they compete with Maori for jobs, state housing and social services.

But Mr Delamere says with Maori unemployment the lowest it has been in decades, that argument doesn't hold up.

Mr Delamere, who is now an immigration consultant, says Dr Clydesdale's research seems designed to fuel the discontent of a small minority of Maori.

“Maoris who are go-getters, immigration doesn’t bother them in the slightest. They take advantage of it and they embrace it and they go forward and work hand in hand. Those unfortunately who want to blame something for their inability to make progress economically often choose immigration as a reason for their not making progress economically,” Mr Delamere says.

He says the expansion of the economy in recent years is largely due to immigration.

WHANGANUI IWI USE RIVER FOR WANANGA

A five day waka hikoi down the Whanganui River helped 14 Whanganui rangatahi learn about leadership and their roles as young Maori.

Taumata Hauora community development coordinator Jay Rerekura says the rangatahi, aged between 14 and 18 were selected for their leadership qualities.

Mr Rerekura says they learned bushcraft, navigation, canoeing, communication and leadership in a tikanga Maori environment.

“I know a lot them, before we get on the awa, they’re a little bit scared, they donlt now what to expect and they’re actually not that keen. Once they get on the river they love it, and on the last day they don’t want to get off,” Mr Rerekura says.

SCHOOLKIDS GET PASS TO THEATRE SPECTACULAR

The artistic director of a stage spectacular on the deeds of Maui hopes it will change the lives of some of the audience.

Tanemahuta Grey says Maui - One Man Against the Gods will be taken overseas once its current three city tour ends.

Mr Grey says rangatahi from some of Aucklands poorest schools have been invited to matinee shows to get a taste of the theatre.

“Most of these kids have never ever even been in to a theatre in their lives before, and we know this production just changes lives in one two-hour session in the theatre for these kids. For us, it’s quite a big buzz to be able to get 8000 kids to have this opportunity in Auckland to see the show,” Mr Grey says.

Maui - One Man Against the Gods starts at Auckland’s Civic Theatre tomorrow night, after a sellout season in Wellington last year.

KAHUNGUNU CANDIDATES SQUARE UP FOR ELECTION

Keeping the tribe together is on the minds of candidates for the runanga or Hawkes Bay iwi Ngat Kahungunu.

Riwai Meihana from Nuhaka, who is standing for the chairperson's position against incumbent, Ngahiwi Tomoana, says some members of coastal hapu are threatening to break away.

Mr Meihana says that's not on.

“I disagree with people splitting the iwi up. That’s the trouble with us Maori. We’re our own worst enemy. Everyone’s always trying to fight the next fella instead of getting on and working as one unit and let’s walk forward together,” Mr Meihana says.

After two terms heading one of the six taiwhenua or sub-tribal authorities within the Kahungunu rohe, Mr Meihana believes he's ready for the top job if his people want him.

RESEARCH FUNDING PRIORITY FOR REVIVED CENTRE

The research director for the revived James Henare Research Centre says her challenge will be to match the research needs of Northland Maori communities with the government's funding priorities.

Auckland University funds the two core staff for the centre, which focuses on the needs of Maori communities north of Auckland, but outside funding is needed for research projects.

The centre went into recess at the end of 2003 when funding dried up.

Merata Kawharu says with that history, the centre will need to tread carefully when it works with Tai Tokerau communities to identify possible research projects.

“One of the biggest challenges for me will be, on one hand, getting a really good idea of what Tai Tokerau people are saying, and what their needs are, and on the other, looking at what the government sees as its priorities for research and what it intends to fund, and I’m sure it will be a meeting point but ultimately they’re two different sets of ideas and thinking,” Dr Kawharu says.

She'd like to pick up some of the work the centre was planning before it went into recess, such as a dictionary of the Tai Tokerau dialect.

WAIMATE STORY PICKED FOR MELBOURNE FILM FEST

A comedy feature about Maori claims has been selected for this year's Melbourne International Film Festival.

The Waimate Conspiracy was written and directed by Christchurch community constable Stefen Lewis.

It's based on his 1999 novel, The Waikikamukau Conspiracy, in which the discovery of a cannonball buried in a paddock sparks the belief by locals that the land was forcibly confiscated from Maori.

Mr Lewis says the film takes a light look at a serious subject.

“I just wanted to say something about what it’s like to be disenfranchised and lose your land like that, and that’s why I invented this character, George Kepa, and George is a really hard case sort of larrikin really,” Mr Lewis says.

The Waimate Conspiracy, which cost $15,000 to make, is also due to screen in Canada in June at the Dreamspeakers indigenous film festival.

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