Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Burton denies bad faith at OTS

The Minister of Treaty Negotiations has come out fighting against claims his officials failed to act in good faith.

Two Waitangi Tribunal reports in the past week have been sharply critical of the Office of Treaty Settlements.

The first challenged the way it went about negotiating a settlement of Auckland claims, and accused the Crown of trying to withhold evidence from its inquiry.

The second said OTS did not act honourably and with the utmost good faith, in accordance with Treaty of Waitangi Principles, while negotiating a deal with Nga Kaihautu o Te Arawa in the Bay of Plenty.

Mark Burton says settling treaty claims is complex, and the tribunal was reading the situation wrongly.

“Anyone's capable of making errors in judgment or mistakes in such a complex process, of course they are. If that’s been the case, and it may have been in some cases, then you wear that criticism, take that on the chin. But do I think people have consciously acted in other than good faith and with integrity, not I do not, and I see no real evidence of that,” Mr Burton says.

The government is studying the tribunal's reports to see if there are ways the settlement process could be improved.

MAORI ADDED TO SCHOLARSHIP LIST

Students of Maori can now be tested in the language at university scholarship level.

Maori educator Wiremu Docherty says that's a major advance for te reo rangatira.

The head of Maori at the Manukau Institute of Technology says in the past secondary school pupils have only been able to take the language up to sixth form level in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement.

He says the change is long overdue.

“Those students who wish to follow and continue their study in Maori, in te reo rangatira, had no avenue to have that subject as a scholarship subject, so I’m pleased to hear that,” Mr Docherty says.

He says the scholarship exam will challenge students in wharekura immersion classes to take their language skills to a higher level.

MAORI SIDE SHORT CHANGED BY SELECTORS

A former Maori All Blacks coach says the team is being set up to fail.

Matt Te Pou says the Maori team has an impressive record in international rugby, and deserves more frequent matches against top class opposition.

He says the loss of the Churchill Cup says more about the team that didn't go rather than the one that did.

Many players were left behind because the large All Black squad and the junior All Blacks took priority.

“So consequently you send a Maori team away, some of the players are effectively C team players, and that’s how it is. They pull on a jersey, and without a doubt they’re Maori All Blacks, but the fact is when you look at that New Zealand Junior All Black side, there are top line players in there who should be in that Maori team,” Mr Te Pou says.

The Churchill Cup competition is more about developing rugby in Canada and the United States than helping grow Maori rugby.

POLITICS BEHIND RUSHED SETTLEMENT POLICY

The Greens' Maori spokesperson says changing the government won't improve the way treaty settlements are done.

Meteria Turei says the problems identified by the Waitangi Tribunal in the Tamaki Makaurau and Te Arawa settlement reports stem from the imbalance of power in the system.

Other opposition parties say the treaty process needs a major overhaul.

But Ms Turei says the the problems are a result of the political climate.

“This is the way Governments treat Maori when they have a strong constituency that is saying settle these claims quickly because we’re tired of hearing about Maori issues,’ and so they’ve got a big vote base, both National and Labour, and making sure those things are done quickly, regardless of the fairness, and the Maori vote is not as relevant,” Ms Turei says.

The proposed Nga Kaihautu o Te Arawa settlement will come under further scrutiny next week, when the Waitangi Tribunal holds a three day hearing in Rotorua to consider the way the Crown intends to put a large part of the Kaingaroa Forest into the settlement package.

DIABETES CAMPAIGNER IN FOR LONG TERM

A diabetes campaigner says efforts to fight the disease must be measured in the long term.

The Auditor General has criticised the effectiveness of the Get Checked anti-diabetes programme, and says it needs to reach more Maori.

But Chad Paraone, who runs a diabetes campaign for Counties Manukau Health, says getting people to change their lifestyles takes time.

He says people need encouragement to switch diets and take up exercise.

“The quit smoking thing’s been round for 10 years or more, and it’s taken that long to make some small changes. We think it’s going to be the same with this stuff. The Let’s Beat Diabetes is a five year strategy, but it’s aiming to get the big results in 15, 20 years,” Mr Paraone says.

MAORI HEALTH FOCUS IN WAIKATO

Maori in Waikato can expect more health funding.

The Waikato District Health board has made Maori health a priority in its new Reducing Inequalities Action Plan.

Board chair Michael Ludrook says it's the best return for the investment.

“We know with Maoti that an adult male Maori will probably live eight to nine years shorter than a non-Maori and clearly we need to be better understanding and better targeting causes of that,” Mr Ludbnrook says.
Michael Ludbrook says the plan includes one and a half million dollars for new initiatives for economically disadvantaged groups.

TAONGA PUORO FINDING NEW OUTLETS

For taonga puoro to survive, the traditional instruments need to be used across a range of musical styles.

That's the view of Richard Nunns, who worked with the late Hirini Melbourne to revive ancient Maori instruments such as koauau flutes and purerehu or bullroarers.

He's always looking for ways to release the musical sounds and reach a wider audience.

“It's part of this journey the puoro are making into this new world, and part of their job, as it always was, in the very traditional work, but if they are to survive, they’ve got to find their way into trance, dance, electronica, chamber, orchestral, the works,” Mr Nunns says.

Tonight at Te Papa in Wellington, Richard Nunns and chamber group Tuhonohono will perform works by composer Gillian Whitehead.

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