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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Eels clue to type 2 diabetes prevention

A Tainui researcher says Maori should go back to eating eels and other oily fish to ward off type two diabetes.

Marie Benton is shortly to receive a doctorate for the work she has done on the role in diabetes prevention of omega-3 fatty acid, which is found in high concentrations in eels, sardines and other fish.

Mrs Benton's thesis included a 10-year case study into her own Waikato hapu.

She says type two diabetes was unknown in Maori until about 10 years after the move to the cities started, so she looked for clues in diet and exercise patterns.

“So I looked at what the tupuna were doing. They were drinking lots of water. They were eating fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. They were eating tuna every day. They stored it. They smoked it. They prepared it in all sorts of ways. Then I looked at what we’re doing today. We’re getting into a western diet, high in meat and saturated fat, low in low in omega 3,” Mrs Benton says.

For her post doctoral research she wants to trial some grass roots health programmes, including reintroducing an eel diet.

TURIA GANG COMMENTS DEFENDED

Social worker and Black Power life member Dennis O'Reilly is supporting the right of Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia to speak out on gang violence.

Mrs Turia has come under fire for some of her recent comments that gangs shouldn't be seen as purely criminal enterprises, which contrast with calls from her some of her fellow parliamentarians that gangs should be outlawed.

Mr O'Reilly says all the criticism seems to be of gangs with mainly Maori members such as the Mongrel Mob and Black Power.

He says a lot of the outcry is ill informed, but Mrs Turia is worth listening to because of her track record and life experience working with gangs.

“When Tariana Turia speaks, she’s speaking form what she sees. When someone else speaks, they’re speaking form a less informed … they’re not running into these people on a day to day basis,” Mr O'Reilly says.

TIPENE OLD BOYS LOSING HOPE OF REBIRTH

Old boys of St Stephen's Maori Boarding School are still pressuring the Ministry of Education to provide a replacement.

Former pupil Wassie Shortland says they haven't forgotten promises made by ministry officials that the closure was temporary.

But Mr Shortland says the Old Boys Association is resigned to the fact the Bombay site is unlikely to re-open.

“The shape and the future of the school will be a lot different from that we knew. It was one of the things we came to realise. If we want a new school, it can’t be because we want something as a monument to our part. It must be something built on the future of Maoridom, not on the past,” Mr Shortland says.

The death of old boy Malietoa Tanumafili II, the head of state of Samoa, is a reminder of the importance of St Stephens not only to Maori but to the Pacific Island communities who sent their sons to it.

TRIBUNAL CLOSING IN ON CENTRAL NORTH ISLAND

The Waitangi Tribunal says it intends to issue its report on Central North Island claims on June the 18th.

The tribunal held a judicial conference yesterday to discuss the scope of the report and how it affected an urgent hearing into the proposed settlement of some Te Arawa land claims.

Claimants from Tuwharetoa, Tuhoe and some Te Arawa hapu told the tribunal the imminence of the report showed the folly of the Crown trying to settle part of the claim by direct negotiation with the Nga Kaihautu group, which represents only about half of Te Arawa.

The Nga Kaihautu settlement will take about a third of the Kaingaroa Forest out of the pool of assets the Crown has available for settlement.

TOUGH TREATMENT BEST HOPE FOR STRAIGHT FUTURE

The newly appointed Maori spokesperson for the Sensible Sentencing Trust says tougher sentences and lowering the age of criminal responsibility are the ways to stop rangatahi heading for a life of crime.

Kelly Te Heu Heu from Tuwharetoa says it's time Maori took a hard line on the crime and violence afflicting their communities.

She says more than half of the prison roll is Maori, and it shouldn't be allowed to continue.

“If tougher sentencing came in, even for our younger ones, it sets up road blocks. It’s a preventative measure to save our kids from going on the path of destruction. And if it came in early enough, ewe can save our kids. By the time they get to 16, 17, when the courts can deal with them, they're too far gone,” Ms Te Heuheu says.

She stayed in New Zealand to fight crime, rather than joining whanau who moved to Australia to get away from the negative influences threatening their tamariki and mokopuna.

EEL TASTE AFFECTED BY RUN-OFF

A Maori researcher who has discovered that an eel diet can ward off type two diabetes says the fish, or tuna as they are known to Maori, don't taste like they used to.

Marie Benton from Ngati Mahuta did a decade long case study of eel consumption among her own hapu as part of her doctoral thesis on the effect of Omega three fats on diabetes prevention.

A sample group of kaumatua who regularly ate eels, which are high in omega three, had no diabetes, while relatives and even siblings who shifted to a more western diet went down with the disease.

Mrs Benton says while urbanisation may have curtailed the Maori appetite for tuna, so did other factors.

“I know a lot of the kaumatua said the taste of the tuna, the taste of the eel, changed because of all the effluent and pollution in the river. It changed the taste of the tuna. And then of courser there’s less supply because of all the hydro-electric dams which were built,” she says,

Sardines are a good substitute for eels, because they are also high in omega three.

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