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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, July 20, 2007

Scholarship will exclude most Maori

A former winner of a Ngarimu scholarship is concerned at tough new eligibility criteria.

The government has doubled funding for 60 year old scholarship to more than $217,000, and says there will be a greater focus on funding post-graduate studies and the development of Maori leadership.

But that rather than being open to all Maori, the money will only go to those who can whakapapa to a member of the 28 Maori Battalion.

Patu Hohepa, whose distinguished academic career was helped at an early stage by Ngarimu funding, says that's a backward step.

He says a relatively small number of Maori went overseas to fight in World War Two, and a third of those were killed in battle.

“To then pick from the two thirds of those who came back, descent lines, it’s going to cut out a whole lot of Maori who have relatives, uncles and that who went overseas but they are not direct descendents,” Mr Hohepa says.

There were also tribal areas which refused to join the war, because of unresolved raupatu claims.

CROWN ACTIONS THREATEN RELATIONS TO AWA TUPUNA

A Taranaki kaumatua believes Maori will no longer be able to whakapapa back to their awa tupuna, or ancestral rivers and lakes.

Huirangi Waikerepuru says the Foreshore and Seabed Act, and the Rotorua lakes and Waikato River claim settlements, are a challenge to Maori tikanga or custom.

In those settlements, the river or lake bed goes to the iwi, but the Crown owns the water column and airspace above.

Mr Waikerepuru says that will challenge speakers on marae when they whakapapa back to elements of the landscape.

“They'll be able to include their awa, but the reality is that it’s managed and controlled somewhere else. Before, the hapu and the people of the land controlled the landscape, the environment, and affiliated to that,” Mr Waikerepuru says.

CARD TO PROTECT ILLITERATE FROM EMBARRASSMENT

One in five New Zealand adults has problems with literacy, including a disproportionate number of Maori.

That has prompted a Southland businessman to come up with a novel way to save people the embarrassment of publicly admitting they can't read or write.

Steven Winteringham says he was inspired by a television item about the problems people face when they can't read signs or fill in forms.

“There's got to be something a bit better to help these people so I came up with the idea of a card, similar to a credit card, that could be very discreetly passed across without having to ask and without them sort of drawing to other people's attention,” Mr Winteringham says.

Literacy Aotearoa has picked up the idea, and is producing an initial run of 5000 of the cards, printed in English and te reo Maori.

GENEVA TRIP PART OF TRADITION

Indigenous rights lawyer Moana Jackson says his forthcoming trip to Geneva is in line with a long Maori tradition.

Mr Jackson hopes to present a report to the United Nations committee on racial discrimination in a fortnight.

The committee has asked for updates from the Government and from Maori about what has happened in the three years since the passing of ther Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Mr Jackson says since 1840 Maori have a tradition of looking for suitable places to present their take or issues.

“Our ancestors tried to meet with the King and Queen in England in the 1920s. People from here travelled to Geneva to the League of Nations, which was the forerunner of the United Nations. And so when our people now go to the UN and to many other indigenous or international forums, we’re really I think maintaining that tradition,” Mr Jackson says.

He says Maori have been extremely patient with the government, despite its unwillingness to respond to their concerns.

SUPPORT FOR MAORI FROM PASIFIKA VOICE

A Samoan educator believes non-Maori should support the role of Maori as tangata whenua or people of the land.

Mua Strickson Pua runs the Tagata Pacifica Resource and Development Trust, which helps young Pacific Island and Maori who have been expelled from schools.

As well as Pacific Island culture, the students learn about Maori history and culture and the effects of urbanisation on indigenous peoples.

Reverend Strickson Pua says that makes the Maori students sit up and take notice.

“They're hearing non-Maori saying quite clearly and powerfully that it’s awesome to be tangata whenua, that this is an awesome history, and that these are Pacific Islanders who have acknowledged that they have received great blessings by coming to this country,” Rev Strickson Pua says.

He says young Maori feel affirmed when non-Maori celebrate their culture.

MIRIMAR MAORI HISTORY EXPLORED

A group promoting Wellington's Miramar area wants to highlight its Maori history.

Enterprise Miramar Peninsula wants to see the redevelopment of the former military base at Shelly Bay into a five star hotel, and it's trying to get a farm used by Wellington Prison turned into a regional park.

Spokesperson Allan Probert says while the area's brand is based on its film industry, the peninsula's many pa and archaeological sites could be the basis of iwi-based tourism.

“There are a lot of artifacts up there that are not being looked after so they need to be addressed. The second issue obviously is making people aware of them, because I think it’s important to value those, and the third thing obviously is to look on the opportunities that history brings,” Mr Probert says.

The branding exercise is funded by a $25,000 economic development grant from the Wellington City Council.

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