Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, May 10, 2007

$20m Rotorua institute revamp opens

A $20 million revamp of Te Puia Maori arts and crafts institute at Whakarewarea opens this afternoon.

As well as an upgrading the physical environment, Te Puia commissioned Wellington company 3D Creative to build interactive displays on Maori history, culture and the natural environment of the area.

The teaching areas for carvers and weavers have also been substantially increased.

Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia says Rotorua has always been the foundation of the Maori tourism industry.

“It's a place where generations have penny-dived, generations have been the guides, generations have been the performers, and that’s been really really great, and they have been an important, integral part, and it gets to another stage now where we’ve got to start owning the businesses, we’ve got to start regulating where the visitors come to, in the sense of our businesses,” Mr Horomia says.

He says Te Puia should set new standards for tourism developments.

HISTORICAL EVIDENCE BACKS ANTI-SMACKING CLAIM

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia's claim that smacking arrived with the colonists and the Christians has won some heavyweight academic backing.

Mrs Turia drew some fire with her explanation that Maori Party support for Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill was an attempt to return Maori to the old ways.

Auckland University anthropologist Dame Anne Salmond says early missionary writers like Samuel Marsden, Richard Taylor and William Colenso all commented on the fact Maori did not hit their children.

“In Britain of course at that time kids were hit quite often. The dictum was ‘spare the rod and spoil the child.’ So it was thought to be good for kids to give them a whack, bit not in Maoridom at that time. That’s not to say kids were never hit and warfare of course, they could end up in pretty unpleasant circumstances, but that was also true in Europe,” Professor Salmond says.

PLUNKET CENTENARY CELEBRATED

Plunket celebrates its centenary this weekend, and its president says it still plays an important role for Maori mothers and their babies.

Kay Crowther from Invercargill says the service has adapted to the needs of the many cultures now living in New Zealand.

In the past Plunket was seen as a Pakeha-dominated culture, but Mrs Crowther says Maori involvement has grown over the past 20 years with representation at board level.

“The wonderful thing about Plunket is it has been able to stay relevant in the community because it’s grounded in the community and it understands community needs. The community needs in Manukau for example are far different to what’s needed in Southland, so it’s about understanding the whole country, being able to deliver those services that are appropriate,” Mrs Crowther says.

TE PUIA WORLD CLASS ATTRACTION

The outgoing deputy chair of Te Puia says a $20 million revamp has turned the renamed Maori arts and crafts institute at Whakarewarewa into a world class indigenous tourism attraction.

Te Puia will be opened this afternoon by Prime Minister Helen Clark.
Mike Simm, a tourism industry veteran, says because Maori culture is such an essential component in the New Zealand tourism market, it's essential such high quality attractions exist.

He says Maori operators have realised they can't do everything themselves, and are more willing to bring in outside experts.

“Maori are actually recognizing the fact they’ve got something that is very important, and it’s not something that can be taken away from them, but irt can be developed quicker if they take a more collaborative approach and use skills, whether they be Maori or non-Maori, to help develop some of their cultures,” Mr Simm says.

He's not seeking another three year term on the Te Puia board because there is too much interference from government officials.

BLIND FIND PLACE ON MARAE

A group representing blind and visually impaired Maori want to help their members get onto the marae more.

Christine Cowan, the national manager of Ngati Kapo, says Maori people who lose their sight face challenges getting resources in te reo Maori, and they can find that some marae refuse to accept guide dogs.

Ms Cowan says Ngati Kapo holds regular hui, so members can share their problems in a marae environment.

“It's very important to our people, our visually impaired people, because it enables them to participate in marae-based activities, but also work with able-bodied Maori to blow away some of those fallacies about blindness and the ability of blind and visually-impaired people to be active members in society,” Ms Cowan says.

Ngati Kapo's southern regional marae noho hui will be at Rapaki marae in Lyttleton this weekend.

MURRAY BROTHERS TAKE ART TO WORLD FROM WHANGAPE

Aussie league stars are taking a shine to Maori art from the tiny far north settlement of Whangape.

That's home to a Maori art service called Image Nation, set up by the three Murray brothers, Richard, Phillip and Jody.

Richard, the artists, says Phillip is responsible for marketing while Jody manages the Image Nation web site and IT needs.

He says work has gone on lease into Auckland hotels and corporate and government sites, and it has also drawn interests from offshore buyers, including some big names in the NRL.

“And we've touched base with another whanaunga of ours, Craig Smith, the Kiwi league star, and he’s marketing some of our work, and people like Danny Buderus, Andrew Johns, have shown a real keen interest,” Mr Murray says.

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