Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Solomon on top after South Island iwi stoush

The long-running battle over leadership of South Island iwi Ngai Tahu appears to be over.

Waatea News editor Adam Gifford says the most recent attempt to unseat Mark Solomon as chair of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu has backfired, and his supporters now make up a majority on the executive.

An acrimonious executive meeting in April ended with deputy chair Donald Couch announcing he was taking over key duties from kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon, and Mr Solomon saying no such deal was struck.

Tribal reaction was swift. At hui through the motu, the constituent runaka censured or sacked delegates who had been part of the nine-member bloc opposing Mr Solomon for the past two years.

Key staff members also quit.

Mr Couch will now chair meetings, but Mr Solomon is still the tribe’s spokesperson, front man and the executive's representative on the commercial boards overseeing the tribe's $500 million asset base.

Mr Solomon wouldn't comment on the leadership row, and says his focus is now on winding up the financial year.

He says Ngai Tahu members will be pleasantly shocked by this year's profits, particularly from its fisheries operations.


Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says Transit's solution to the row over flying a Maori flag on the Auckland Harbour Brige is a cop out, and it won't last.

The roading authority refused to fly a tino rangatiratanga flag because it didn't represent a sovereign nation, but then came under fire for flying the colours of the European Union.

It now says choosing flags takes up too much time and effort, and it will only fly the New Zealand ensign.

Mr Harawira says Transit needs to learn how to develop policy.

“Our view is not that we should ban the European flag or that we should ban anybody else’s flag but that we should fly everybody’s – the Maori flag, the Australian flag on the appropriate flag, the English flag, everybody’s flag, but on days of significance to Maori, particularly on Waitangi Day, we should be flying the Maori flag as well,” Mr Harawira says.

He says the government needs to step in and give Transit some guidance.


Maori Smokefree Coalition head Shane Bradbrook says a five percent drop in Maori smoking rates in recent years is no reason for complacency.

Mr Bradbrook says today's World Smokefree Day observance is a chance to reflect on how much more needs to be done.

Almost one in two Maori adults smoke, compared to one in four Pakeha.

Mr Bradbrook says bringing the rate down means stopping young people before they become addicted to tobacco.

“Those underlying messages to get our rangatahi Maori onto this kaupapa and provide them with that information and a voice there that says for Maori, we were traditionally tobacco free and we should continue to be tobacco free,” Mr Bradbrook says


New education programmes promoting religious tolerance may be an outcome of this week's Asia Pacific Interfaith Dialogue in Waitangi.

New Zealand delegate Manuka Henare says it's been a valuable week, with a real commitment to build bridges between leaders of the various faiths and political leaders in the 15 countries represented.

Mr Henare expects to see more cultural exchange programmes for young people, and new ways to enhance the education of various communities about the importance of religious diversity.

“This is not about teaching people how to practice the life of a Muslim or a Christian or a Buddhist but to understand the way that other people think about themselves and their faith, and it’s in that sense Maori faith, Maori religion and whether we’re Christian or whatever can be understood,” he says.

Mr Henare says he was heartened by the strength of indigenous religions in the region, with many of the delegates keen to learn more about ideas of spirituality which Maori have carried over from pre-European times.


Maori Party MP Hone Harawira has unveiled his members bill to outlaw the production and sale of tobacco products in this country.

Because of the effects of smoking on young people, the bill was launched at Hato Petera College on Auckland's North Shore on World Smokefree Day today.

Mr Harawira says education programmes are no match for the promotional efforts of the tobacco companies, so stronger action is needed.

“We have a lot of good young role models, and they’re doing as well as they can, but we’re seriously up against a multi-billion dollar cartel whose primary objective is to hook us into tobacco and it requires the attention of an organisation like the government to put a stop to it,” he says.

Mr Harawira says he'll be taking the bill to anti-smoking organsiations for support before he puts it into the ballot.


Former Maori coach Matt Te Pou says a commemoration lunch in Auckland tomorrow is a chance to acknowledge the achievements of both the Maori Battalion and Maori Rugby.

Speakers include 28 Maori Battalion Association president Nolan Raihaania and former All Black and Maori All Black captain Buck Shelford.

Mr Te Pou says both the organisations have inspired Maori for more than half a century:

“The part played by the 28 Maori Battalion and the attitude they showed in 1939 has always been without a doubt something for us to aspire as Maori people. During the time of peace the Maori All Black and the values they hold near their heart mirror those of the 28 Maori Battalion as well and the veterans,” Mr Te Pou says.


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