Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bishop lodges Agent Orange claim

The former Bishop of Aotearoa and New Zealand has lodged a $170 million claim with the Waitangi Tribunal challenging the proposed $30 million Agent Orange settlement.

Whakahuihui Vercoe, who was an army chaplain, says 65 percent of the New Zealand service personnel who served in Vietnam were Maori.

His son, Graeme Vercoe, says his father's claim is as much for the non-Maori he shared foxholes with.

“He still has a strong affinity with those people he served with in the Vietnam war and I guess he perceives he is continuing his work as a padre in terms of supporting their take on the issue,” Mr Vercoe says.

The claim asks for a hearing at the Defence Department's Waiouru marae so Maori veterans and their whanau can voice their anger and suffering, and their thoughts on a better way forward.

Bishop Vercoe says the current settlement on the table is woefully inadequate, and $170 million should be put in a trust to provide for the future needs of veterans and their families.


Former Alliance president Matt McCarten says the votes of the Maori Party will still be crucial to forming the next Government.

The latest One News Colmar Brunton poll put National 25 points ahead of Labour, with enough support to form a Government on its own.

But Mr McCarten says that level of support won't last into the election, and National doesn't currently have a viable coalition partner.

He says that means the four or five seats the Maori Party is likely to win will be crucial.

Mr McCarten says National's surge is the result of astute positioning by new leader John Key.

“He isn't a (Don) Brash. I mean he’s even sticking up for the poor and Labiour’s traditional constituency and they’ve taken all the things like nuclear stuff out. He’s been very gentle around Maori issues, he’s even been sticking up for workers, so that’s a different sort of National,” Mr McCarten says.

He says National's policy shift to the centre means the next election is likely to be fought on personalities.


Age should be seen as no barrier to higher education says a 74 year old Massey doctoral graduate.

Janice Wenn of Ngati Kahungunu earned her PhD with a study of kaumaatua perspectives on Maori health.

Dr Wenn wanted to test how heath services could be based on Maori values.

She says it was a particularly rewarding experience.

“I went to 40 kaumatua and tested that and what their values were, and I came up with a set of eight values, but I also came up with an incredible number of stories which supported their belief in those values,” Dr Wenn says.

Fellow PhD Selwyn Katene and other Maori graduates were honoured at a special ceremony at Massey's Wellington campus this afternoon.


Former Labour cabinet minister John Tamihere says the devil is going to be in the detail of Tainui's historic deal to settle Waikato River claims.

Tainui negotiators have signed a draft agreement in principle with the Crown on Saturday to establish a guardian's body to oversee the waterway.

Mr Tamihere says the negotiators are likely to face some tough questions from their people about how Tainui interests will be protected, and what co-management means.

“You've got Environment Waikato and a number of local authorities up and down that river that play a management role. The question is to what extent now is Tainui’s rights either above those or alongside them,” Mr Tamihere says.


National list MP Tau Henare says a multi-party delegation of Maori MPs to Taiwan is about making connections with other indigenous peoples.

Mr Henare has joined Maori affairs co-spokesperson Georgina Te Heuheu, Maori Party MP's Tariana Turia, Hone Harawira and Te Ururoa Flavell and the Greens Metiria Turei on the trip.

He says the group is looking for things which can give pointers for Maori development.

“We were invited by the Maori Party to come up to Taiwan with them just to have a look with some development issues, meeting with a few indigenous peoples, some government officials, and just generally see what's going on,” Mr Henare says.

The group returns to New Zealand on Wednesday.


Ousted Television New Zealand kaihautu Hone Edwards says the state broadcaster has a critical need for Maori input at a senior executive level.

Mr Edwards left TVNZ earlier this month after a review by new chief executive Rick Ellis abolished his position giving Maori input into the decision making process.

He says last week's gaffe, when Mr Ellis told a parliamentary committee that Police 10-7 was an example of Maori participation in television, would not have happened with better advice.

“I think it's important for Television New Zealand or any organisation that has a sort of legislative responsibility that it does, that you do need Maori working at that senior executive level, and the only thing I’m sad about is that since I’ve left, there’s nobody there to fill that gap,” Mr Edwards says.


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