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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, May 28, 2007

Tainui now to nail down river deal

Tainui is gearing up for three months of intense consultation as it tries to win agreement for its settlement of claims to the Waikato River.

An Agreement in Principle was signed on Saturday in Hamilton by negotiators Raiha Mahuta and Tukoroirangi Morgan and Treaty Minister Mark Burton.

The deal will create a guardians’ body to oversee the river, and another statutory body which will work alongside Environment Waikato on its day to day management.

Many details of the agreement, such as financial redress, still have to be negotiated.

Mr Morgan says the document will be taken out to all Waikato-Tainui marae and other stakeholders for consultation.

“It allows the robust discussion to happen among our interest groups, our people, our marae, but we’re going ot get where we need to get to, because this river is far too important for us to stand aside and continue as we used to, as bystanders,” Mr Morgan says.


The co leader of the Maori party says Kiwi Saver discriminates against Maori.

Peter Sharples says the scheme unveiled in the Budget has little in it for low income workers, which includes a disproportionate number of Maori.

Dr Sharples says it's likely many Maori won't join up, but their taxes will still be used to fund the scheme.

“The ones who can afford it get this brilliant subsidy, but those who can’t save are missing out, on that government subsidy, so it’s discriminatory against poor and it’s discriminatory against Maori because of where we sit with the income levels. There must be other ways of introducing savings into our culture, rather than penalising half the people,” Dr Sharples says.


The Minister of Fisheries says he has to manage the resource for all fishers, and not just the industry and iwi sectors.

Jim Anderton says an amendment to the Fisheries Act, which is being held back by the Primary Production Select Committee for come consultation, is needed so he can address sustainability issues.

Labour's Maori caucus is opposing the bill, because of concerns it will slash the value of Maori fisheries settlement assets.

Mr Anderton says a recent court case, which found his predecessor erred when setting quota for kahawai, highlights the need for change.

“What I has determined is the Minister of Fisheries actually satisfies recreational need before anything is talked about regarding the total allowable commercial catch. Now that’s been a wake up call for everybody, and I’ve said to them, if you want, that’s everybody, is you want a long term solution to this, you’ve got to have one which you do on a cooperative buy in basis,” Mr Anderton says.

He says fishing rights have no value if there is no fish to catch.


Tainui chairperson Tukoroirangi Morgan says this generation is just putting the finishing touches on a claim the tribe has carried for more than a century.

Mr Morgan and fellow negotiator Raiha Mahuta and Tukoroirangi Morgan signed an agreement in principle with Treaty Minister Mark Burton on Saturday to settle claims to the Waikato River.

It will give Waikato-Tainui tribes co-management rights over the river, along with some money and land along the riverside between Karapiro and Port Waikato.

Mr Morgan says the negotiators built on the work of past giants like Te Puea Heranga, Pei Te Hurinui Jones and members of the Tainui Trust Board.

“The late Sir Robert was there galvanized to resolve the issue of raupatu. Our queen was there to ratify it. They are no longer here, and one was moved to tears as we sat in the Kauhanganui yesterday in front of our 65 marae to put our draft agreement in principle,” he says.

The draft agreement will now be taken out for consultation with Tainui marae and other stakeholders.


Te Puni Kokiri head Leith Comer says his organisation is taking the Auditor General's call for improvements seriously.

Kevin Brady looked at more than $15 million in grants in five programmes and identified deficiencies in approval and monitoring processes.

Mr Comer says the Maori development ministry has accepted all 16 of Mr Brady's recommendations.

A report found TPK weren't monitoring their grant programmes properly and changes were recommended.

“We have already implemented fully eight of those recommendations. We will complete another seven of those recommendations by the end of June this year, and the final one will be implemented in 2008,” Mr Comer says.


Groups working to reduce Maori smoking rates stand to benefit from increased funding into the sector.

Smokefree Coalition director Mark Peck says while there was a a slight reduction in Maori smoking over the past decade, the figure has plateaued at about 44 percent - twice as many as Pakeha.

Mr Peck says the $43 million earmarked in the budget will be welcomed by organisations providing cessation and advocacy services for Maori.

“Te Ao Marama, Te Hotu Manawa Maori, Aukati ka Paipa and Auahe Kore, they will see significant benefits from this year’s budget in the services they try and deliver,” he says.

Mr Peck says more funding for health workers, increased access to nicotine replacement therapy, and increasing the capacity of the Quitline, should help more people give up tobacco.


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