Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Maori unemployment below 10,000

A long time worker with the unemployed says while the government should be congratulated for getting the number of Maori on the dole queue below 10,000, it needs to give Maori more flexibility in tackling the remaining hard core unemployed.

Since the Labour led government was first elected in 1999, the number of Maori unemployed has dropped from 44,000 to 9902.

Dennis O'Reilly says much of the credit must go to a strong economy and the Working for Families package, which creates incentives for people to get off benefits.

But he says Work and Income's approach of matching up unemployed people with employers won't work for the remaining hard core unemployed, and other programmes aren't run in ways Maori can relate to.

“People in Maori communities will solve their own problems if government is prepared to get right behind them and get quite flexible there. So on one hand, lots and lots of praise for good macro policies. On the other hand, we’ve got to get smarter at the micro policies,” Mr O'Reilly says.

Maori are still three times as likely to be unemployed as non-Maori.


Maori communities in coastal areas are being urged to check the ability of their urupa in the face of global warming.

Apanui Skipper, the manager of Maori services for the National Institute of Water and Amospheric Research, says climate change will threaten many treasured pieces of land.

Mr Skipper says many Maori burial sites are on the coast in areas vulnerable to time, tide and rising sea levels.

“I see it quite often in rural areas where a lot of these cemeteries, urupa, are found in the mudflats now because they’ve been totally inundated, over time, but we don’t get to see or hear about these sort of things in the general public because only these communities know about these sort of areas,” Mr Skipper says.

Disturbed weather patters could also raise the flood risk on many marae.


The next generation of Maori political leaders are being groomed from an early age.

Year 7 and 8 pupils at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Rotoiti have been encouraged to form torangapu political parties as part of student council elections.

Principal Hawea Vercoe says the children are taking their responsibilities seriously.

Mr Vercoe says the exercise is about raising awareness of what political action can achieve.

“I hope that each of them and all the students that were part of the campaign team see how it all works, and in the future they will stand up and be involved as adults and take a lead in making a difference, rather than being part of the flow. That’s what education is all about,” Mr Vercoe says.

He says the Rotoiti kura students haven't resorted to some of the tactics employed by their real life role models.


There are fewer Maori on the dole queue, but too many compared with non-Maori.

That's the reaction of Hawkes Bay community worker Denis O'Reilly to Maori unemployment dropping below the 10 thousand mark for the first time in more than two decades.

Mr O'Reilly says while a strong economy has soaked up most of the unemployed rolls, more needs to be done to address the causes of inter-generational Maori unemployment, which emerged in the early 1980s.

“Maori unemployment up until then always recovered faster than mainstream unemployment. Maori entered back into the workforce much more quickly than the general population. And so this is a hangover I think from the kick in the guts Maori communities got from the changes of the 1980s,” Mr O'Reilly says.

He says the government needs to give Maori communities the resources and flexibility to deal with the rump of long term unemployed.


It's time for Maori communities to take climate change seriously.

That's the word from Apanui Skipper, manager of Maori services for the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

Mr Skipper says Maori don't have to look far to see the devastating effects of global warming.

“Talk to the peole down at Matata. Talk to the people down at Manawatu, and to our people up in Tai Tokerau. We seem to be having these 100 year events now every year. Talk to those communities and they’ll let you know all about it. It is very very real for them.” Mr Skipper says.

Maori should be particularly concerned at the risk of rising sea levels on coastal urupa.


A Christchurch company which prints replicas of old maps has developed a faster way of identifying old survey plans of Maori land.

Chris Rennie from Heritage Imprints says Land Information New Zealand requires searchers to know the legal description of land.

He has developed an alternative database which matches the 450 thousand plans to geographical locations.

Mr Rennie says the old plans can be of huge value to claim researchers and to people interested in the history of their hapu or whanau.

“The plans of course are full of whakapapa, the details of old pa and marae sites, original place names and even the signatures of chiefs and whanau, because in many cases they were the vendors of the land and their signatures appear on the survey plans,” Mr Rennie says.

Heritage Imprints is giving free access to the database information to registered marae and historical societies.


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