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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Claimants looking for certainty from Crown

Waitangi claimants from the top of the South Island say they want consistent policies for the way Crown agencies deal with Maori.

At Orakei Marae in Auckland today, Ngati Koata summed up its case in Wai 262 fauana and flora claim, 16 years after if first lodged the claim with five other iwi.

Kaumatua Ben Hippolyte says while the iwi has developed good relationships with some departments on issues like the protection of tuatara, they are too dependent on personal connections.

Mr Hippolyte says it falls short of the guarantees of protection in the Treaty of Waitangi.

“We have a good relationship with all government agencies, but like children, some agencies are better than others, and behave better towards us than others. I believe, because it’s taken so long, that it might have been someone’s suggestion, ‘wait until they die off and then we don’t need to have this raruraru,’” Mr Hippolyte says.

The Waitangi Tribunal moves to Wellington next week for the final submissions from the Crown.

HOUSING PARTITIONS POSSIBLE UNDER SAMUELS’ PLAN

Associate Housing Minister Dover Samuels is seeking a change in the Ture Whenua Maori Act to make it easier for Maori to build on multiply owned land.

Mr Samuels has just been on a tour of the East Coast and Coromandel, and was alarmed at the number of people living in shacks and caravans.

Mr Samuels says many were shareholders in the land, but they were unable to build permanent dwellings because approval is needed from 75 percent of owners before house sites can be partitioned off.

“I'm looking at amending the Act. If you’ve got enough equity, in other words if you’ve got enough shares in Maori multiply-owned land, then you should be able to apply to the court to build your house on your share without having to go through this huiitis process,” Mr Samuels says.

He says the change would go a long way to reducing the costs of building a home and make it easier for Maori to borrow money from the banks.

NUCLEAR FREE ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATED

Taitokerau MP Hone Harawira says the 20 year anniversary of New Zealand's nuclear free legislation is a tribute to the country's political system.

Mr Harawira and his wife Hilda Halkyard were part of groups in the 1970s and 80s which pushed for a nuclear free and independent Pacific.

He says it took a lot of effort from different parts of society to force the politicians to make such a strong stand.

“Maori have been involved in that movement way before Labour decided to take it up. Congratulations by the way to David Lange, for standing strong on the international stage. For Helen Clark too, because back in the day not all of Labour was supportive of it, but she was,” Mr Harawira says.

He's heartened the National Party seems to have finally dropped its threat to review the nuclear ban.

CROWN NEEDS TO HEAR CLAIMANT WAIRUA

After 16 years, WAI 262 claimants are finally able to presenting their case for greater protection of indigenous fauna, flora and intellectual property rights.

The Waitangi Tribunal heard final submissions from claimant iwi at Orakei Marae in Auckland this week, and will sit in Wellington next week for the Crown's summing up.

Ben Hippolyte from Ngati Koata at the top of the South Island says the claimants have had a fair hearing from the tribunal, but there's no guarantee of a positive outcome.

“The Waitangi Tribunal, if they had the power, it would go the way that we would hope it would go. But you see, they only make a report to people who have the power to make the decision, and those people, they don’t hear the cries of our people, they don’t hear the wairua that is spoken in the voice,” Mr Hippolyte says.

He says the claimants want a treaty-based relationship with government agencies, rather than always having to beg for assistance to protect their taonga.

MAORI SPACE PLANNED FOR BIRD SANCTUARY

The Pukaha Mt Bruce bird sanctuary north of Masterton is considering adding a centre for visitors to learn about conservation and te taiao Maori, or the Maori environment.

Board member Jason Kerehi, the chairpoerson of Rangitaane o Wairarapa, says it's part of a major upgrade aimed at bringing more tourists into the region.

Mr Kerehi says existing structures will be redesigned, and the emphasis will be on visitors seeing the birds in the open forest, and not in cages.

He says tangata whenua have a contribution to make.

“For the iwi, it’s really important that we are involved and able to provide the Maori perspective of te Aotearoa, starting with the whakapapa of our people because of our connection to the atua,” Mr Kerehi says.

WEEKEND MOKO WORKSHOP NEAR TE AWAMUTU

People interested in ta moko will have the chance to learn more at a wananga at Te Kopua Marae south of Te Awamutu tomorrow.

Organiser Shane te Ruki from Kowhai Consultants says the wananga will cover the mystical origins of traditional tattooing and its development after European settlement.

Mr Te Ruki says as people learn about the ancient art, they may be inspired to revive some of the older styles which can now only been seen in the pictures drawn by early European explorers and settlers.

“The moko style that we commonly associate as being the norm is actually a late development. Previously there were some very different styles of skin adornment, which we don’t see any more. There are a couple of examples of puhoro facial designs which are starting to become more common,” Mr Te Ruki says.

On Sunday Te Kopua Marae is hosting a separate wananga on mo rakau or Maori martial arts.

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