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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Misleading response to tribunal questioning

National's treaty spokesperson says the Minister of Treaty Negotiations is trying to brush off serious charges his officials misled the Waitangi Tribunal.

The tribunal's report on the Tamaki Makaurau Settlement Process said the sole official who gave evidence for the Office of Treaty Settlements "answered some questions in ways that were misleading".

The Minister, Mark Burton, told Parliament today that tribunal Judge Carrie Wainwright had clarified her statement to say that there was no intention to mislead.

But Chris Finlayson says in fact Judge Wainwright has stood by the original wording.

He says Mr Burton should dig deeper.

“If I was the Minister in charge of an office where criticisms of lack of candor had been made of counsel appearing for essentially my department, then I’d certainly be wanting to ask some questions and I don’t know that I’d be accepting bland assurances,” Mr Finlayson says.

National would prefer to take a non-partisan view on treaty issues, but the settlement process is in a state of crisis.

TE REO RANGATIRA ADDED TO SCHOLARSHIP

Students will now get a chance to test their knowledge of Te Ao Maori at Scholarship level.

Te Reo Rangatira, which includes not just the language but an understanding of the Maori world, becomes a scholarship subject from next year.

Associate Education Minister Parekura Horomia says it will give students at wharekura something more to aim at.

“The breadth of subjects includes tikanga, kawa and concepts of te ao Maori which are things they need to continue on. They’ve always been an integral and strong part of their learning processes so what this does is recognise that,” Mr Horomia says.

The change may encourage more Maori students to aim for places at university or wananga.

COASTAL RESTORATION COULD LEAD TO WART CURE

A traditional cure for warts may be set for a revival.

Waitahanui a Hei Marae near Te Puke has been working with Coast Care Bay of Plenty to repopulate the dunes at Otamarakau with a rare coastal plant known to Maori as Waiu o Kahukura.

Coast Care coordinator Greg Jenks says it used to be common in the area, but fell prey to grazing by stock.

He says the blue-green grass can be recognised by its magenta blooms.

“A use for it was to use the milky sap, and hence the waiu, for removing warts, so there was that knowledge there. All we have to do is get theplant back so people can see it again,” Mr Jenks says.

He says 70,000 seedlings of the Waiu o Kahukura have been planted since 2004, and the aim is to eventually re-establish it along 100 kilometres of coastline.

SETTLEMENTS NOT SEEN AS DURABLE

The National Party says the Government has given up on trying to get durable treaty settlements.

Leader John Key says the reports by the Waitangi Tribunal on the Tamaki Makaurau and Te Arawa settlements point to a process in disarray.

He says the Office of Treaty Settlements has got into a mess with trying to rush through settlements, because it has ignored earlier advice from the tribunal on process.

“The whole process and the ethos under which the settlement process was being undertaken is that they’re durable, they last, and they’re effectively done with agreement, and essentially what the Waitangi Tribunal’s saying if I read it correctly is that in fact OTS is negotiating under the wrong terms and conditions and that doesn’t look very encouraging,” Mr Key says.

He says there is a risk the treaty settlement process will grind to a halt.

MARAE BASED LESSONS FOR PROBLEM STUDENTS

A Rotorua Maori welfare organisation is offering marae-based lessons for students excluded from mainstream schools.

Three secondary schools have already referred students to Maatua Whangai for the programme, which is based at Taharangi Marae in Ohinemutu.

Tutor Kathline Butterworth says the behavioural issues which make some students disruptive in mainstream schools are often a response to learning difficulties.

She says the adherence to tikanga Maori gives structure to the students' lives.

“It's the only marae based in the Rotorua area introducing the tikanga and kawa back into their daily lives. It’s structured around how a marae establishment is, and they actually have to participate in powhiri and ongoing learning that happens here on the marae,” Ms Butterworth says.

Maatua Whangai hopes many of the students can be reintroduced to mainstream schools.

MAORI PLAYERS TRY CLAY COURTS IN GERMANY

Two of our best Maori tennis players are in Germany honing their skills on clay courts.

Dick Garrett, the organiser of the Maori sports awards, says it's a great chance for the pair to move up the international rankings.

They are accompanied by Ra Durie, who has a tennis academy near Feilding.

“His daughter has played over there for the past two years, so this year we’ve taken over Barrett Franks from Christchurch, who was in the world youth team for New Zealand last year, and of course our Maori singles champion, Austin Childs. They’re at present competing in inter-club in Germany and having coaching and training experience on clay,” Mr Garrett says.

At the other end of the age scale, a team of Maori players will compete at the Queensland Veterans Tennis championships this weekend.

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