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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, June 04, 2007

WAI 252 to Orakei for penultimate hearing

Hearings for the long running Wai 262 Maori fauna and flora claim are almost over, with the Waitangi Tribunal sitting at Orakei Marae this week for final submissions from claimants.

The tribunal will try to pull together almost nine years of evidence on a bewildering array of topics.

The claim was lodged in 1991 on behalf of six iwi concerned at the challenges faced by Maori who sought to use native plants and animals in a traditional way.

It quickly expanded to cover intellectual property issues, matauranga Maori or Maori knowledge, environmental management, the education system, the health system as it affects rongoa or traditional medecine, and even the way the Government signs this country up to international treaties.

The claimants this week will argue the tribunal has the evidence before it say where the treaty has been breached, and what needs to change.

Next week in Wellington the Crown gets its final right of reply before the tribunal goes off to write its report.

WORKMAN HONOURED FOR PRISON WORK

The Queen's Birthday Honours brought recognition to a number of Maori who have been quietly working behind the scenes in their communities.

Names which surfaced this weekend included long time Napier community worker Marjorie Joe, Justices of the peace Hemana Manuera from Te Teko and Maurice Rahipere from Tauranga, Rangitane kaumatua Jim Rimene from Masterton, and Rangi Maika from Rotorua, one of the stalwarts of the Te Arawa paepae.

More well known names included writer Patricia Grace, Capital and Coast District Health Board chair Bob Henare, businessperson and Maori Television chair Wayne Walden and Prison Fellowship head Kim Workman.

Mr Workman, from Ngati Kahungunu, says his Queen's Service Order for services to prison welfare is a welcome acknowledgement for the work of many unsung people.

“Not an activity that easily gets acknowledged. There’s about 3000 volunteers who go into the prisons about New Zealand but I think it’s an acknowledgement, not for me so much, but for all those other people who are doing that work,” Mr Workman says.

RUBEN WIKI MAKES ONZM LIST

The New Zealand Rugby League's most capped Test player says he never expected to end up on the honours list when he embarked on his professional sports career.

Ruben Wiki was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to sport.

Otara-raised Wiki, who has Maori and Samoan whakapapa, has played almost 270 first grade games.

He has also strapped his boots on for 55 tests for the Kiwi's, 18 of them as captain.

Wiki says awards were a long way from his mind when he left New Zealand as a teenager with a professional contract with the Canberra Raiders.

“When I left the shores back in the day, I just wanted to play with Mel Meninga, and 15 years down the track I’m getting an honour from the Queen, so that’s pretty huge eh,” Wiki says.

WAI 262 GRANDADDY OF CLAIMS

The chairperson of the Hawke's Bay's Ngati Kahungunu iwi says this week's Waitangi Tribunal hearing is about the grandfather of all claims.

The tribunal is a Orakei Marae in Auckland to hear final submissions on the long running Wai 262 claim, with Kahungunu first up.

Ngahiwi Tomoana says while it's often referred to as the fauna and flora claim, it has expanded to include questions of intellectual property, environmental management and government policy across a range of departments.

“It is about our whakapapa, our intellectual property, our knowledge base, and everything associated with it. We were here 1000 years before any Pakeha arrived and we built up a philosophy and a kaupapa about who we are, what we are, what we stood for. What we want is acknowledgement of that in a legal framework,” Mr Tomoana says.

He says the Crown is not the only source of rights in Aotearoa.

GREENS TAKE AIM AT POVERTY PROGRAMME LACK

The Greens says the two main parties are yet to produce policies which address the hardships faced by the country's poor.

Co-leader Jeanette Fitzimons says Labour's Working for Families package and the Kiwisaver package discriminate against people who for whatever reason cannot work.

Ms Fitzimons says too many Maori are still not working, or working in low wage jobs.

“We have a treaty obligation that the Greens take extremely seriously to make sure that all our people are treated fairly, and of course Maori wouldn’t be so disproportionately represented in the low income group if they had their due entitlement of their land back and their status in society recognized,” Ms Fitzsimons says.

The party held its annual conference in Nelson over the weekend.

PATRICIA GRACE GETS SECOND HIGHEST HONOUR

Novelist Patricia Grace says her Queens Birthday honour is down to the supportive family and community she has around her.

Mrs Grace from Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa and Te Atiawa was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, the equivalent of a Dame under the previous honours system.

Since her first collection of short stories, Waiariki, was published in 1975, Mrs Grace has been a prolific writer of short stories, children's books and novels.

She says the honour belongs to many people around her, especially her husband Dick Grace.

I've been very fortunate that I’ve been able to be a full time writer since 1985, which not so many New Zealand writers have the luxury of being. Dick’s support in all sorts of ways including moral support and advice and so forth has been really important, so I’m glad for his sake as well,” Mrs Grace says.

Other Maori in the creative sector to be honoured were singer Tina Cross, who was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and filmmaker Barry Barclay, who became a member of the Order,

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