Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Solomon verdict still hanging

Ngai Tahu members should find out today the fate of their embattled chairperson Mark Solomon.

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu spent most of its two day meeting in Christchurch on Friday and Saturday in committee, angering many of the kaumatua gathered outside the hui.

Deputy chairperson Don Couch came out at four to say the executive had reached a compromise which needed to be put to Mr Solomon.

Mr Solomon, who has been under fire for three years from a nine-member faction on the board, had left the hui by that time.

Kaumatua Richard Parata, a former director of Ngai Tahu Group Holdings, says the outcome of the hui indicated Mr Solomon was not the issue, but was rather a symptom of an undemocratic and dysfunctional system.

Mr Parata says a change in the runanga’s charter in 2003 means executive members are no longer elected by and accountable to beneficiaries, but are appointed by electoral colleges.


Tuhoe kaumatua Tawhiao Tioke says new regulations on the size of eels are the result of over-fishing by Pakeha operators.

Commercial fishers will no longer be able to take eels over 4 kilograms, which are females of breeding age.

Mr Tioke, an expert in Maori tikanga, says the eel, or tuna has been a vital part of the diet of inland Maori, and traditional conservation methods ensured a plentiful supply.

He says that has been disrupted as the fish is seen as just another commercial species.

“We’re the ones that has lived with the tuna, knows the tuna, but he Pakehas run out of the fishes, they overfished the sea for money, now they couldn’t produce enough fish, now they turning to the rivers for the tuna, not because they like it but because they want the mahi moni,” Mr Tioke says.


Dargaville’s waka Te Wairoa has a new giant-sized trailer, giving it a new lease of life.

Mack Harry from Te Roopu Whakapiringa Maori Centre says the 14 and a half metre steel trailer means the waka can be moved around Northland for ceremonial events and training.

Mr Harry says there are many young people in the area interested in training on the waka, but it has been too hard to get the vessel in and out of the water.

“It was confining us to the shore, the means of transporting us around eh, but now we're ready to fly,” Mr Harry says.

Te Roopu Whakapiringa has a water safety course planned for the Kai Iwi lakes, just north of Dargaville.


A Ngai Tahu kaumatua says this weekend’s hui over the South Island tribe’s leadership shows a constitutional review is essential.

Richard Parata says kaumatua were kept out on the street while the 18-member executive stayed in committee to discuss the fate of the tribe’s kaiwhakahaere, Mark Solomon.

Mr Solomon has survived several attempts to unseat him from the chair to the country’s richest tribe, but the attacks keep coming.

At the end of the hui deputy chair Don Couch said a compromise had been reached, but details will not be released until later today after negotiations with Mr Solomon.

Mr Parata says there is widespread anger among the tribe at the executive, and considerable grass roots support for Mr Solomon.

He says because executive members are appointed by electoral colleges rather than directly voted in, they are not responsive to beneficiaries.


Gisborne's Tairawhiti Museum has a reprieve after securing new sources of funding.

Director Monty Soutar says the museum, which holds many taonga from East Coast iwi, was threatened with liquidation last year because the Gisborne District Council wasn’t willing to keep pouring money in.

Dr Soutar says an operational overhaul has improved service to the public and cut costs.

He says organisations like the Ministry of Education and Te Puni Kokiri have been willing to put money into the museum because of its role in the community, taking pressure off the council.

“They gave us back in August some survival money and we’ve put in initiatives to sensure wer’re not relying soleluy on our council for funding and we’re generating income form other sources, so 25 percent of our income now is through sources from outside the Gisborne District Council,” Dr Soutar says.

Ngati Porou and leading businessman Rob McLeod are sponsoring a major taonga Maori exhibition in November, which will allow many of artifacts to be brought out of storage.


An ecotourism course at Greymouth's Tai Poutini Polytechnic is helping non-Maori learn more about the history and people of Aotearoa.

Co-ordinator John Kennedy says ecotourism is the fastest growing sector of the industry, and a big part of the experience for tourists is learning about the Maori dimension to the natural and cultural environment.

He says tutor Bunty Mason is able to weave lessons in te reo, Maori history and rongoa Maori into the curriculum.

Mr Kennedy says it requires a shift in thinking for many students.

“We've had a lot of students who’s come in from a real South Island background, so they’ve had to have a real paradigm shift in how they view basic issues of culture and race relations in New Zealand,” Mr Kennedy says.


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