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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Kawhia kaumatua John Apiti dies

Maori living around the Kawhia and Aotea Harbours are mourning the loss of one of their senior Kaumatua.

John Apiti spent most of his 91 years farming, and had a lot of input into environmental issues affecting that part of the North Island west coast.

Nephew Davis Apiti says he was highly regarded for his knowledge of te ao Maori, and was a familiar figure at hui throughout the Waikato region.

John Apiti is the last of his generation in the Apiti whanau, and the last to have learned his farming skills from the Mormon Maori Agricultural College.

"He's the last of the old boys from the MAC, that's the college down there in Hastings, and he talked about the good times he enjoyed down there before before the earthquake," Mr Apiti says.

The funeral for John Apiti will be at the Latter Day Saints church in Kawhia at 11 tomorrow, after which he will be buried at the whanau urupa at Matakowhai Point, overlooking Aotea Harbour.

SAMUELS CONFIRMS RESIGNATION RUMOURS

It's the worst kept secret in Maori politics.

Dover Samuels won't be seeking reelection.

He spent two terms representing Tai Tokerau and is currently serving his second stint as a Labour list MP.

Mr Samuels says he will inform Prime Minister Helen Clark and the party of his decision at an appropriate time, but his intention is clear.

"I've made it clear that I certainly won't be seeking renomination for the next election and the reasons why," Mr Samuels says.

He wants to spend more time with his family, and he also wants to make room for younger candidates such as fellow Taitokerau-based list MP Shane Jones.

BOOK AIMS TO IMPROVE MAORI LITERACY

Three students from the South Island have made a book they hope will improve the literacy skills of other young Maori.

Josh Toohey, Jordan Russ and Tyrone Frost-Kidd, from St Thomas of Canterbury College, wrote A Perfect Day with help from noted children's author Margaret Mahy, as part of a Young Enterprise project.

It's aimed at primary and intermediate age children.

Mr Toohey, who's from Ngai Tahu, says the book has a school setting, but it also brings in issues of wage slavery and child labour in the third world.

He says the project gave the trio an understanding of the importance of literacy.

"We just saw it as kind of pressing issue and one that influenced a lot iof decisions and choices that people like Maori could be making in life, and being literate was extremely important in contemporary society," Mr Toohey says.

He and his friends tried to write the book in a way which would engage other young Maori.

HISTORY GIVES SENSE OF PLACE

The author of a new book on Auckland's Maori past says New Zealanders are losing their sense of place because they don't learn their history at school.

Paul Moon says New Zealand and Albania are the only two countries he knows of where history is not compulsory at secondary school level.

It has left generations students without a sense of place or identity.

Dr Moon says Maori communities expect their young people to learn tribal history.

"So they understand the place they come from, they have an attachment to that place, in management terms they have buy in. Whereas if you don't have that attachment, you don't understand the history, you can become a drifter, and when you drift you don't have a sense of place. It starts to affect the way you live, the way you value things, so it has a flow on affect," Dr Moon says.

While the book doesn't take sides, The Struggle for Tamaki Makaurau may help people understand why other iwi have challenged the Government's proposed settlement of Ngati Whatua.

COUNCILLOR SEEKS TO SAVE RUAPEHU STORIES

A Ruapehu District Councillor wants to use her council's historic places policy to preserve Maori sites and stories.

Karen Ngatai is asking Ruapehu district residents to share their knowledge, photos and documents of the region's history, to be stored in an archive in the old Tokirima post office.

Mrs Ngatai says the council needs a stronger policy, but it needs community backing.

"It's a community thing, not just a council thing. We really want people to get involved and come to us, and say we've got this site, we've got this building, and there's this story behind it. That hasn't happened in the past," she says.

Mrs Ngatai says the district is in danger of losing its historic record as kaumatua die off.

MAYORAL CANDIDATE WANTS TO PROTECT MAORI

A high profile candidate for the south Auckland mayoralty says he wants to help Maori victims of crime.

Former Olympic middle distance runner Dick Quax wants to make the jump from Manukau City councillor to mayor at next month's local body elections.

He says the region has a high Maori population, and the safety of all residents has to be a priority.

"One of the things that I'm concerned about is that Maori are disprortionately, a large number of them are victimes of crimes, so we have to make sure we do everything possible as a communtiy to safeguard everybody," Mr Quax says.

TUCKSHOP REVOLUTION GOOD FOR MAORI

Schools are back this week, and students may be noticing some changes in their tuckshops.

They've been ordered to phase out fatty foods and provide healthy alternatives.

Michelle Mako, the manager of the Health Sponsorship Council's Feeding our Futures initiative, says Maori whanau should welcome the change.

"You know if we're going to be asking whanau to be make better choices for their tamariki by ensuring their kids are eating the right kinds of food, and remembering that a third of all foods kids are eating, they're eating in the school environment, we need to make sure the school environment is also supporting whanau by providing healthier foods," Ms Mako says.

She says there are no quick fix solutions to the rising levels of child obesity in New Zealand.

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