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Friday, May 18, 2007

Hormia defends limited budget

Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia says most of the benefit for Maori from this week's budget will come from mainstream areas.

The Maori Affairs budget contained little new spending, with allocations for Maori Television, iwi radio and Maori Wardens standing out.

But Mr Horomia says money being spent in education and health, the Kiwi saver scheme, and economic development will allow Maori families to build on the real advances they have made under Labour.

“Most Maori are working. Most Maori are in study and that. We are no longer benefit dependent people. Isn’t that something to celebrate, so all the ones who continue to preach doom and gloom, it’s a very limited market in the sense of that,” Mr Horomia says.

He says the tax cuts favoured by National would take money from areas where Maori need support.

BUDGET IGNORES MOST VULNERABLE

But the Green's Maori spokesperson says Labour is ignoring the most vulnerable sections of society.

Metiria Turei says all the extra spending in the budget was targeted to middle and upper income New Zealanders, and ignored those at the bottom, who include disproportionate number of Maori.

She says the use of tax credits in Working for Families and Kiwi Saver means beneficiaries miss out.

“We have got to stop this separation between peoples on the basis of the source of their income. People on benefits will have problems trying to get any real gain out of this budget and that is just not acceptable, given that there is money there that is available and should have been used to help those who have the least resources and are the most vulnerable,” Ms Turei says.

DIABETES PROJECT VALUABLE FAILURE

The head of health sciences at Auckland University says a failed project to screen 15,000 Waikato Maori for diabetes was worth doing.

Only 5000 people were screened by the Te Wai o Rona team by the time the study ended in December, at a cost of more than $4 million.

Professor Ian Martin rejects criticism from some Maori health practitioners that the study was poorly organised and left Maori feeling patronised.

Professor Martin says the target of 15,000 screenings was too ambitious, but the study answered an important question about what is feasible for diabetes prevention.

“Can you take a community, screen them for pre-diabetes, and then deliver within the community and intervention that reduces your risk of progression to diabetes and at a cost that is affordable to the health system as a whole? That was not possible,” Professor Martin says.

The study identified more than 260 people with diabetes, and it trained more than 20 healthcare workers who are still active in the community.

DIGITAL CHANNEL DEVOTED TO TE REO

The chief executive of Maori Television says the channel's venture into digital television is likely to be completely in te reo.

Maori Television got $3 million capital funding in the budget for the move to a digital platform and $5 million more a year for new programming content and expanded broadcasts.

Jim Mather says Maori Television is an active member of the Freeview digital broadcasting consortium, and is keen to become a multi-channel broadcaster.

He says its initial ambitions are modest.

“They centre basically around launching a second complementary channel for Maori Television which more than likely would have a stronger te reo Maori component and also focus on an audience that were fluent reo speakers and those that wanted to have full immersion households,” Mr Mather says.

RADIO FUNDING MINIMAL BOOST TO SIGNAL

Meanwhile, National's Georgina Te Heuheu says an extra $1 million a year for iwi radio is a drop in the bucket.

The budget allocation amounts to just $45,000 for each station.
Ms Te Heuheu says is shows the Government still doesn't appreciate the role of the 21 stations in promoting kaupapa Maori.

“I would have thought they carried the voice of Maori and the perspectives of Maori to wider than Maori, so I’m not sure how $45,000 helps that that sort of kaupapa,” Mrs Te Heuheu says.

TARAWERA LOVE STORY IN SHANGHAI

An electronic artwork based on a classic Tuwharetoa love story is included in a survey of new media artworks which opened in China this week.

Artist Natalie Robertson from Ngati Porou was invited to the fourth Shanghai International Science and Art Exhibition as a result of her participation in a festival of electronic art in San Jose, California last year.

Ms Robertson says while the work retells the story focused of a love triangle between three mountains near Kawerau, it also looks at the effect of pollution from the Kawerau paper mill.

“Tarawera's tears as she cried for Potouaki leaving her have now in my work became a lament for the desecration to the lower reaches of her own body, of the awa of the river. Because the Tarawera River below the Tasman pulp and paper mill is now referred to as the black drain because it was so heavily polluted by that industry,” Ms Robertson says.

A version of Natalie Robertson's piece is also on show at the moving Image Centre in Auckland's Karangahape Rd.

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