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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Arawa settlement defended from tribunal slam

The Waitangi Tribunal got it wrong.

That's the response from Nga Kaihautu o Te Arawa to a recommendation its settlement be delayed while overlapping claims are dealt with.

The Waitangi Tribunal says it has grave concerns about the impact of the settlement on other iwi and on the durability of future central North Island settlements.

The group, which represents about half of Te Arawa, will get 51,000 hectares of Kaingaroa Forest land valued at about $85 million.

Chief negotiator Eru George says Nga Kaihautu and the Office of Treaty Settlements gave overlapping iwi the chance to be involved.

“Everyone that had been able to put their case to this recent tribunal all had the same opportunity that we did, and that was to go into a comprehensive settlement with the Crown forest lands as the jewel in the crown. Those who decided to withdraw did so at their own choice,” Mr George says.

Nga Kaihautu, or Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa as it is now known, is keen to work with other groups to resolve their concerns.

WARNING ON HOSPITAL SCREENING PLAN

Refuge workers are warning a culture of fear among abused women and a lack of funding for follow up work could stymie plans for public hospitals to screen all women for domestic violence.

Shane Wilson, from the Maori development unit of the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges, says the scheme could lead to abused women staying away from hospital.

He says women experiencing family violence often will not talk to strangers.

“They would rather talk to someone they know, so when approaching a place like a hospital and you come across a stranger who is actually questioning you, it comes across partially like interrogation, so we believe that may create a bit of fear,” Mr Wilson says.

He says Women's Refuge doesn't have the money to cover the extra services it believes will come out of the screening programme.

STUDENTS COMPETE ON BUSINESS ACUMEN

Maori students from 25 secondary schools are gearing up to prove who was the best business nous.

Organiser Duke Boon says the rangatahi business competition at Hamilton's Founder's Theatre tonight and tomorrow is designed to open the young people's eyes to new possibilities.

The students have been working in teams over the past three months to develop case studies of Maori busineses and plans for new ventures.

He says the event, which is the brainchild of Waikato University's School of
Management Studies, has captured the imagination of a people in transition.

“Not too long ago we were the generation of meat factory workers, whereas now things are looking a lot brighter for us, we’re developing ourselves through education and it’s one of the key messages this competition promotes,” Mr Boon says.

The teams are competing for regional prizes of $2,500.

CROWN TO BLAME FOR KAINGAROA MESS

One of the claimants for Kaingaroa Forest lands says the Crown's policy of picking favourites to negotiate with has come unstuck.

The Waitangi Tribunal has recommended the Government delay its $85 million settlement with Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa until all central North Island iwi have determined how forestry assets in the region should be allocated.

Maanu Paul from Ngai Moewhare, a Ngati Manawa hapu based deep in the forest, says the tribunal recognised the proposed settlement was not durable.

He says the Crown excluded legitimate claimant groups and adopted a policy of favouritism.

“It would negotiate and settle with those who would settle in the way the Crown wanted to settle, and that was contrary to the Crown Forest Assets Act and that’s why the tribunal was highly critical of the Office of Treaty Settlements because it did not provide a rigorous process so there was no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who owned the land,” Mr Paul says.

Ngai Moewhare has called a hui this weekend at Kaingaroa Village for central North Island iwi to try to find a way forward.

REHAB SCHEME NEEDED CONSULTATION BEFORE RELEASE

An advocate for Maori prisoners is disappointed at the lack of consultation on a new rehabilitation scheme.

The Prison Placement System will reward inmates for good behaviour by offering them time to study or learn new skills.

Kim Workman from Prison Fellowship says the scheme was sprung on the sector in a press release from Corrections Minister Damian O'Connor.

He says groups like Prison Fellowship and the Salvation Army with histories of working with inmates could have provided valuable input.

“Stakeholders right across the board, whatever their position is, should have had to opportunity to comment. Now I might be wrong, this might be a very minor programme which is opart of an operational process, but looking at the press release, that doesn’t seem to be the case,” Mr Workman says.

Similar schemes have failed in the past because prison officers use withdrawal of study privileges as a way to punish prisoners.

SHELL MIDDEN FOUND ON NORTH SHORE

Contractors working on a bus lane on Auckland's North Shore have uncovered a large shell midden.

Work on that part of the project is delayed while archaeologists assess the find, which was under the roots of a large pohutukawa tree on Esmonde Road.

Gary Thompson from Ngati Paoa says iwi did not ask for the delay, but they do expect to be notified when such habitation sites are found.

“It just records for us the footsteps of our tupuna, and North Shore City Council and iwi have developed a set of protocols when these sites are found and in this instance the developer stopped work straight away and we were contacted and took our kaumatua and other iwi down to the site and we had our service,” Mr Thompson says.

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