Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rotorua lakes clean up gets boost

The government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Environment Bay of Plenty, Rotorua District Council and Te Arawa Lakes Trust to clean up the Rotorua Lakes.

Trust chairperson Toby Curtis says decades of farm run-off, sewage and other pollutants have left many of the lakes in poor condition.

The clean-up cost is estimated at $200 million, and central and local government are still arguing where the bills should go.

The government says it will fund projects on a case by case basis.

Mr Curtis says the memorandum should allow Te Arawa's voice to finally be heard in the process.

“We are delighted in the sense that we are now at the decision-making table with regards to the management of the lakes, and we see it as a matter of right,” Mr Curtis says.

He says there is a big education job to do to get Te Arawa people behind projects such as the wall which will channel Lake Rotorua's water away from Lake Rotoiti and directly into the Kaituna River.


The head of Wellington's Mary Potter Hospice says Maori are increasingly seeing hospices as a place to go for care in their final days.

Ria Earp from Ngati Pikiao and Ngati Whakaue, a former deputy general of health for Maori health, says in the past Maori have been wary of the idea of hospice care.

But she says there is a trend for Maori whanau to use hospice services for members with terminal illnesses.

Most hospices are really looking at how do they get more information about their services to Maori communities, and also looking at how they run and operate their own services so that Maori feel more comfortable,” Ms Earp says.

Hospices rely on community fundraising to cover running costs.


Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori wants tourists to take a bit of Maori home with them.

The Maori language commission today unveiled the theme for Maori language week in July - On the road with te reo.

Spokesperson Lana Simmons-Donaldson says it will focus on the tourism sector, with international and domestic operators urged to use greetings like kia ora and other Maori phrases.

She says that will improve the Aotearoa experience for visitors.

“Maori language and culture is one of the reasons tourists come to this country. It’s what defines us as a nation and it’s unique to Aotearoa and Maori language and culture and people are what makes it so,” Ms Simmons-Donaldson says.

The commission will again offer community awards for innovative ways of promoting te reo Maori through the week.


Occupiers of a farm at Whangape in the far north say the land includes a maunga of huge significance to both Ngapuhi and Tainui.

Richard Murray says the Ngati Haua hapu of Te Rarawa has been trying to buy the land for fair value, but successive owners have only been concerned at trying to ramp up the land's value for speculative development.

Mr Murray says the hapu refuses to accept the land was fairly taken, because of the presence of so many significant waahi tapu or sacred sites, including the maunga Whakakoro.

“The connection is between our ancestor Ueoneone, who actually married a wahine from down in Waikato, from Tainui, and through their union the whole of Ngapuhi and Taitokerau can whakapapa back to those two common tupuna, ancestors,” Mr Murray says.

Ngati Haua occupied the land because the owner was trying to sell it without warning prospective buyers of the claims on it.


Southland District Health Board's new Maori health programme director wants health workers in the region to be more aware of how unacknowledged racism can affect Maori health.

Erina Rewi, who's from Waitaha, Kati Mamoe and Kai Tahu as well as Ngati Kahungunu, says Southland has the highest Maori population in the South Island.

Recent research shows that even when education levels and socio-economic status are taken into account, Maori still have disproportionately poorer health than other groups.

Ms Rewi says the research points to institutional racism, which health workers need to address.

“Part of that is getting an understanding of how much of that information has reached the front line, what are the barriers to getting that information to the front line, and how as a team are we able to work with that,” Ms Rewi says.

Maori health needs to focus on more than chronic diseases like diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases.


Ngapuhi claimants want the Waitangi Tribunal panel which hears their claim to include a representative from the United Nations.

Titewhai Harawira, who is on Ngapuhi's claims design team, says preparation is well advanced for a judicial conference at the end of the month, at which the tribunal may indicate whether the claim ready to go to hearings.

Mrs Harawira says the claimants want to be assured of the tribunal's independence.

“Ngapuhi's insisting on having someone from the United Nations sit on the tribunal. The government takes no notice of the tribunal anyhow, but at least it will give Maori, and Ngapuhi in this case, the opportunity of hearing an independent voice about how they see this treaty settlement,” Mrs Harawira says.


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