Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, June 25, 2007

Airport compo raises hapu ire

A hapu has accused the Rotorua District Council of racism over planned extensions to Rotorua Airport.

Ngati Uenuku Kopako says Pakeha landowners affected by the extensions have been offered compensation for disruption, but there were no offers to neighbours on Maori ancestral land.

Spokesperson Hera Naera says the discrimination is blatant.

“Redress has been offered on properties that are non-Maori ancestral land There has been no redress offered whatsoever to any Uenuku Kopako landholdings,” Ms Naera says.

Ngati Uenuku Kopako has filed a complaint against the council to the Human Rights Commission

LIFTING MAORI VOTE HARD ASK

The head of the electoral commission says there is no easy answer to lifting Maori election turnout.

Green MP Sue Bradford wants to lower the voting age to 16, which has led the Maori Party to question whether it is doing enough to engage rangatahi in the political process.

But Helena Catt says low turnout, particularly among young voters, is a concern for democracies worldwide.

She says more research is needed to determine why Maori voting levels remain stubbornly lower than the rest of the population.

“Is it because they’re not interested? Is it because they’re whakamaa? ‘I don’t want to go in there and I don’t know what to do, it’s a scary place, the whole choice of who to vote for is too hard, it’s a big responsibility, I can’t do it.’ We need to work out which of those things is the important trigger,” Dr Catt says.

She says there is little point in running media campaigns to encourage more Maori to vote without understanding what inhibits them from doing so.

CUTOM LAW COMPENDIUM WELCOMED

The editor of the Maori Law Review says a new work on Maori custom should improve the way the courts handle Maori issues.

Te Matapunenga is a 500-page compendium of references to Maori customary law drawn from court cases, Maori Land Court minutes and historical accounts.

It was released in electronic form at a symposium at the Tainui Endowed College over the weekend.

Tom Bennion says questions of Maori custom are increasingly turning up in the courts, but judges and lawyers don't know where to look for authoritative guidance.

“In a number of court cases in the general courts, outside the Maori Land Court, High Court and the like, you get decisions where the judge pretty much is picking up the Oxford Dictionary of New Zealand and saying ‘there’s a definition of mana’. One line. And I think the suggestion is probably suggesting we should be improving on that, and I think the document assists in that regard,” Mr Bennion says.

Courts aren't required to use the compendium, but its development as a work of scholarship by Waikato Law School's Te Matahauariki research institute will give it mana or authority.

ROTORUA COUNCIL DENIES AIRPORT DISCRIMINATION CLAIM

The Rotorua District Council is denying any racial discrimination in the way residents affected by airport extensions are being compensated.

Ngati Uenuku Kopako has complained to the Human Rights Commission that residents on ancestral Maori land weren't offered similar compensation to their neighbours.

But Nigel Wharton, the council's environmental services director, says the commissioners who made the airport decision made compensation orders to Maori and non-Maori property owners alike.

“The ethnicity of people is not a consideration at all for the commissioners so it’s mischievous for anyone to accuse the district council of Rotorua of racism simply because the commissioners who were appointed to hear the process didn’t give them the result that they wanted,” Mr Wharton says,

If the Environment Court rules the extensions can go ahead, the Rotorua District Council will offer to buy properties at the southern end of the airport.

It will also pay for houses affected by noise to be soundproofed.

STANDARD COULD OPEN UP INDIGENOUS MARKET

A new standard for Maori organic growers may lead to trade with other indigenous peoples.

Percy Tipene from organic growers' group Te Waka Kai Ora says 10 hui will be held around the country on how tikanga Maori can be applied to organic farming.

He says any new standard or brand won't be in competition to existing organic certification, but it should give Maori growers an extra way to market their goods.

“The actual long term benefits would be round indigenous people looking to get together and creating their own indigenous market based on indigenous standards,” Mr Tipene says.

It's an idea which has been around for several years, and there have already been discussions with patent lawyers and indigenous groups from other countries.

STAFFORD GETS PERSONAL ON HONGI TALE

The author of a new history of Hongi Hika has a personal stake in telling the story of the Ngapuhi chief's raid on Rotorua tribes.

Don Stafford's book A Wild Wind From the North was launched on the weekend at an historic meeting between Ngapuhi and Te Arawa.

The 1823 invasion led to decades of bitterness between the tribes, but it also led to strong whakapapa links.

Mr Stafford says he's always felt an affinity towards the northern tribe during his 40 year career as a historian.

“I have a more than passing interest in Ngapuhi because three of my grandchildren carry the blood of Ngapuhi, and the others all carry the blood of Te Arawa, so I have a foot in both camps,” Mr Stafford says.

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