Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Latimer warns Maori can't get dial tone

Maori Council chairperson Sir Graham Latimer says the Government is making it impossible for new entrants to bring real competition to the mobile phone market.

The Minister of Economic Development, Trevor Mallard, has ruled out regulating how much phone companies charge to let calls from other companies onto their networks.

He says Vodafone and Telecom can reduce the charges at their own pace over the next five years.

Sir Graham says that is a further setback for the Te Huarahi Tika Maori spectrum trust, which holds frequencies reserved for Maori under a treaty settlement.

The trust is working with New Zealand Communications to build a mobile phone network, but Sir Graham says the business needs a stable regulatory environment to succeed.

“If we don't watch out we’ll be shut out, and we’ll never get in the door again. We’ve had two attempts to get going, and then everything sort of falls to pieces. You go round in a circle, remembering there’s no money floating for Maori to do anything. By the time you go round in a circle, it's gone again,” Sir Graham says.

He says consumers will suffer from the move.

NGATI TE WHITI SEEK RETURN OF RESERVE FROM COUNCIL

A New Plymouth hapu is fighting the sale of surplus council-owned land near the Te Henui Cemetery.

Wikitoria Keenan from Ngati Te Whiti Ahi Kaa says the area was set aside as native reserve in the 1880s, with 11 hapu members listed as owners.

It was later taken under the Public Works Act, but part of the title is still in Maori ownership.

Ms Keenan says while New Plymouth City Council is putting a $1.2 million value on the block, it has a greater heritage value to the hapu.

“It is ancestral land. It’s still in Ngati Te Whiti ownership or whanau from Ngati Te Whiti. If the council is thinking of selling it, we want it returned to us,” Ms Keenan says.

Council staff will investigate Ngati Te Whiti Ahi Kaa's concerns before this month's full council meeting.

MOANA AND TRIBE READY FOR RUSSIA

Moana and the Tribe are practicing their Russian language skills.

The popular soul funk kapa haka band is building on a series of exploratory trips to make a fully-fledged tour.

Moana Maniapoto says the Tribe will perform in a wide range of venues.

“Like very high end philharmonic theatres with classical musicians to universities, clubs, a meat works with 1500 workers watching, to a very small village, a free public concert. It’s a very unusual mixture. It’s not like your conventional tour we’ve done in other countries,” Maniapoto says.

The tour was developed through the support of New Zealand's ambassador to Russia, Christopher Elder.

LOCAL BANKS SHOULD GRASP MAORI LAND LENDING

Green co-leader Russel Norman says New Zealand based banks could do more for Maori who want to build on multiply owned land.

Mr Norman says rising house prices are making it increasingly difficult for New Zealanders to buy their own homes.

He says building on family land is a real option for many Maori, and local lenders should be able to understand the complexities of lending against blocks with multiple owners.

“One of the issues is looking at the way credit works around multiple ownership land. The hope that I have is that some of the New Zealand owned banks like Kiwibank and TSB and some of the smaller finance corporations would actually have the better understanding of that multiple ownership structure to be willing to make loans on that basis,” Mr Norman says.

The Greens are proposing a ban on house sales to non-residents.

MAORI MAORI ACTIVITY IN UNIONS

The president of the Council of Trade Unions says Maori are becoming increasingly active in the union movement.

Ross Wilson says while Maori traditionally worked in unionised areas, member numbers fell after with the industrial reforms of the 1990's.

He says the CTU runanga has helped the organisation address Maori issues and bring more workers into the fold.

“Maori workers are quite concentrated in some of the traditional industry sectors. Always have been. So we have an increasingly active Maori membership who provide leadership around an agenda which has the potential to provide workforce development opportunities for Maori workers and we’ve got a very strong focus on that,” Mr Wilson says.

EAST COAST KIDS LEARN BATTLE HERITAGE

Almost a thousand schoolchildren from Ruatoria and Tolaga Bay have been through a mobile exhibition on the 28 Maori Battalion's C Company.

The company was mainly recruited from the East Coast.

Tairawhiti Museum educator Gayle Te Kani says the exhibition was a chance to
get across some key messages.

“We wanted to educate them about it and certainly to feel proud about what they did and who they were and how they conducted themselves as a battalion and the feats they did, but really the main message was just the whole futility of war and the loss that Maoridom suffered,” Ms Te Kani says.

Tairawhiti Museum is attempting to collect photographs of all C Company members.

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