Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tainui looking to fresh fields

Tainui's commercial arm is on the hunt for further investments after strong asset growth over the past year.

Tainui Group Holdings recorded a $64 million surplus in the year to the end of March, and paid a dividend of $10.5 million to the Waikato Raupatu Lands Trust.

Chief executive Moke Pohio says when the acquisition of remaining shares in The Base retail complex at Te Rapa is completed next month, the company will have more than $415 million in assests.

He says the focus this year will be starting the fourth and final stage of The Base, completing the new Ibis Hotel in central Hamilton, and work on the Huntington residential subdivision on the city's northeast fringe.

Mr Pohio says it's also looking for new acquisitions.

“Quite where and what value is the question. We still see the Waikato as a concentration of our portfolio, but we are starting to look outside now,” Mr Pohio says.

The accounts include $11 million in fisheries settlement assets.

AOTEA MAORI BACKING DOLPHN SANCTUARY PLAN

Maori around the Aotea Harbour are backing a trawl ban aimed at protecting the country's most endangered marine mammal.

Davis Apiti from Ohapu Marae says the population of Maui's dolphins is at a critical level.

The dolphins' usual range is just off the coast between Port Waikato and Raglan Harbour.

He says the area needs to be closed off to trawlers out to 10 nautical miles.

“We got sanctuaries down in the South Island, and it’s about time we had one for the North Island. It’s been dragging on for a while, but we know a sanctuary’s the only thing that’s going to save the Maui dolphin from extinction,” Mr Apiti says.

A basketball team has been sponsored to promote the marine sanctuary.

TE REO O TE MARAE LACKING

A former Maori language commissioner says Maori language learners need to recapture the language of the marae.

Patu Hohepa says the reo people are picking up from kohanga reo, kura kaupapa and wharekura is a sort of pan-Maori dialect.

Almost half of Maori speakers are under 25 years old.
Dr Hohepa says their reo lacks some of the depth it needs.

“Schools are bringing out nga reo o nga kohanga reo, or nga kura kaupapa, but the one that’s really suffering is te reo o te marae, or te reo o kawa, and we have to pick up on that,” he says.


He'd also like to see more effort made to strengthen tribal dialects.

POLICE ACT CHANGES DEFENDED

The principal advisor for a review of the Police Act says planned changes to fingerprinting rules will help cut down on identity theft.

Maori have expressed concerns at proposals to allow roadside fingerprinting without the need for an arrest.

Young Maori men are more likely to be stopped than non-Maori.

But Mike Webb says many Maori attending the public consultations can see the value of the change.

“We're seeing just as much enthusiasm from Maori members of the community, who can recognize the benefits of being able to quickly verify that they are who the say they are rather than for example their identity being used by other people who are unfortunately passing themselves off as somebody else,” Mr Webb says.

Police hope to have new legislation introduced next year.

LANGUAGE LINKED TO HEALTH ACCESS

An Auckland Maori health worker says the strength of Maori language correlates directly to Maori health.

The Auckland District Health Board last year got a Maori Language Week award for the bilingual signage inside and outside its facilities.

The board's tikanga advisor, Naida Glavish, says it was hard to convince the board to erect the signs, but it made Maori more comfortable to be there.

“Language is also an issue of inclusivity, and issue of belonging. Therefore, if we are addressing the health needs of Maori, there are intangible levels of acceptance and access which became a health issue,” Ms Glavish says.

POLICIES DON’T HELP RETURN TO WHENUA

The Green Party says policies focused on city dwellers aren't helping Maori who want to return to their ancestral lands.

Co-leader Russel Norman says while housing affordability is a major issue, Maori are also affected by the closure of services schools in rural communities.

He says the regional development is a way to stop the spread of large cities, and it makes sense environmentally and socially to encourage people to go back to their communities.

TREATY GROUNDS SCORE HIGH ON MONOPOLY BOARD

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds have been rated the New Zealand's most iconic place.

The place where the country's founding document was first signed in 1840 took more than a third of the votes in an online survey conducted by game maker Hasbro, as it weighed up sites to put on a New Zealand version of Monopoly.

Michael Hooper from the Waitangi National Trust says the result reflects the way people treat the Bay of Islands landmark.

“I think it's a reflection of the affection New Zealanders hold the Treaty Grounds in, and that’s been increasingly obvious every Waitangi Day for the past three or four years, as the numbers, with the exception of an almost wash-out last Waitangi Day, almost doubling year by year, so people and quite proud and pleased to come and celebrate at Waitangi, he says.

Mr Hooper says although the Treaty grounds have a million dollar price tag on the game board, it is priceless for many New Zealanders.

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