Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Big fish retires from TOKM

Backbencher Shane Jones has finally cut his ties with the Maori fisheries settlement trust.

The Labour list MP stepped down as chair of Te Ohu Kaimoana earlier this year.

He told today's board meeting he will finish as a trustee at the end of the current fishing season, ending 14 years on the settlement body.

Whe he was elected to Parliament in 2005, Mr Jones was asked to stay on until allocation issues were resolved.

Three quarters of iwi have now been mandated and received the bulk of their settlement assets.

“I'm really lucky that during my time there we’ve been able to get an enormous amount of the resource out to the iwi, and the tasks that remain can very easily be dealt with in a very administrative way and perhaps the blend of skills that I was able to bring to the table, the time for that blend of skills is over it’s a different time now and different talents are needed,” Mr Jones says.

Te Kawai Taumata, the iwi electoral college, which meets tomorrow to find a replacement for Business Roundtable head Rob McLeod, will now be looking for two new members.

FLUORIDATION LACK KNOCKOUT BLOW FOR TAMARIKI

A Rotorua health board member is disappointed Maori councilors won't support his attempts to get a fluoridation referendum on the agenda for the local government election.

Rob Vigor-Brown says councilors didn't seem to be on top of the issue.

He says the lack of fluoride in the water has a major impact on children.

In cities with fluoridation like Waitakere, up to two thirds of children under five are caries-free, but only 15 percent of Maori pre-schoolers in Rotorua have no signs of tooth decay

“Fifteen percent under-fives, caries free, that’s not good at all. That leads to, in Rotorua, 180 under-fives undergoing general anaesthetic each year so that dentists can work on their teeth because of course they’re non-compliant. We want to bring that down,” Mr Vigor-Brown says.

He'll still try to make flouridation an issue in the election, so an incoming council may act.

PHILLIPS HEIR TO TRADITION

A Maori spiritual leader who's celebrating his 90th birthday this weekend is considered an heir to the Maori prophetic tradition.

Thousands of supporters are expected at Manu Ariki Marae in the King Country to celebrate the birthday of Te Kotahitanga Building Society founder Alex Phillips.

Anthropologist Bernie Kernot says he's observed Mr Phillips in action at Manu Ariki, and he has an undeniable sway among his supporters.

He says the prophetic tradition grew out of the colonial experience of the 19th century, as the power of traditional rangatira waned.

“The chiefs, to a large extent, their authority was subverted by the machinations of the land courts and these kinds of things and prophets came in and filled a void, partly political, partly spiritual, so Alex Phillips moves into that particular kind of tradition,” Mr Kernot says.

Manu Ariki is one of the largest marae in the country, so it will easily cope with the crowds expected.

NEW ZEALANDER TAG SIGN OF BACKLASH

The increasing number of people identifying themselves ethnically as New Zealanders is being seen as a backlash to Maori becoming more politically visible.

The Statistics Department says 11 point 1 percent of people wrote on their 2006 Census form that their ethnicity was New Zealander.

Most of them would have been in the New Zealand European category in previous censuses.

Independent statistician Tahu Kukutai says the ethnicity question is a way to record how people identify themselves.

While groups like Maaori, Samoan, Tongan and Chinese are used to thinking about themselves in ethnic terms, the emergence of New Zealander as an ethnic category raises questions about what's happening in Pakeha society.

“When did Pakeha fall out of favour? Why do many people object to that now? I think increasing immigration and the rise of indigenous politics in the last 15 years has a lot to do with the emergence of New Zealand as an ethnic group and I think it needs to be understood in that context,” Ms Kukutai says.

Statistics New Zealand may need to ask more questions about ancestry, so demographers can better understand who is calling themselves a New Zealander.

CYSTIC FIBROSIS CASES ON THE RISE

The number of Maori with cystic fibrosis has trebled in the past three years.

Kate Russell from the Cystic Fibrosis Association says much of the increase is due to intermarriage with people of European origin.

It's a hereditary disease that affects the lungs and digestive system, shortening life expectancy.

Ms Russell says while numbers of Maori sufferers is still small, the rate or increase is alarming, and education is needed.

“We have not done enough to reach out through various iwi to do a bit of education too about what it is because it is quite new to the Maori community and I think that’s a piece of work we need to get on to fairly quickly,” she says.

The Cystic Fibrosis appeal ends this Sunday

ARNOLD WILSON NAMED ARTS ICON

Tuhoe sculptor Arnold Wilson has joined an elite group of New Zealand artists.

He's been named an Icon Artist by the Arts Foundation.

Wilson was the first Maori to gain a Diploma in Fine Arts, being part of the first generation of Maori artists to embrace modernism.

Garry Nicholas from Toi Maori says Mr Wilson's greatest contribution may be his work as a teacher.

“Arnold's work has been exemplary in the education sector as an early advocate for the introduction of Maori stories and images into our arts, and as a art educator, the work he did throughout the northern colleges in introducing those communities to community arts and leaving those art pieces throughout those schools,” Mr Nicholas says.

Other Art Icons included photographer Ans Westra, the late actor and filmmaker Don Selwyn, painter Don Peebles and set designer Raymond Boyce.

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