Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Carbon credits should stay with Maori

Maori landowners want any carbon credits generated off their forests to go into the Maori economy.

Roger Pikia, the chair of the Maori reference group which is working through how climate change policies will affect Maori, says there is a lot of concern about how any new emission trading regime will work.

Two thirds of Maori land is in native or production forests.

Mr Pikia says Maori want their contribution recognised.

“The first thing that we needed to get acknowledged is that the Maori economy as a whole is recognised and acknowledged as an economic sector that contributes to New Zealand Inc. if you like, New Zealand’s economy, and not simply a stakeholder within the industries or within various sectors if you like, the dairy sector, the forestry sector and so on,” Mr Pikia says.

He says the Maori economy is already carbon negative because of its holdings in forest and scrub land.

KAIHAUTU MANDATE SLIPPED AWAY

The Government's support of a group it wants to settle Te Arawa land claims with is coming under fire.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Mark Burton says good faith demands the Crown go ahead with its settlement with Nga Kaihautu o Te Arawa, because that group has a proper mandate.

The Waitangi Tribunal has recommended the $85 million plus deal be delayed, because in its present form it could have a negative impact on settlements for overlapping iwi - and for the rest of Te Arawa.

Maanu Paul from Nga Moewhare says Nga Kaihautu started off representing almost all of Te Arawa, but it shed half its members during the negotiations.

He says that's culturally significant.

“When Maori meet and hui about a topic, those Maori who don’t like what’s happening simply walk away from the hui as a show of no confidence. The fact that now Nga Kaihautu does not represent 50 percent of the constituents of the Te Arawa waka tells me quite clearly that Burton is barking up the wrong tree,” Mr Paul says.

He says there's no good faith involved in the Nga Kaihautu settlement, because it involves the illegal use of Crown forest assets.

DIETICIAN HELPS TAMAKI PHO TACKLE OBESITY

A new programme to tackle obesity is proving popular with Maori and Pacific Island patients.

Tamaki PHO, the country's largest Maori-led public health organisation, has taken on a full-time dietitian to give free consultations.

Clinical director Lorraine Hetaraka-Stevens says that means people are much more likely to get advice which can help not just with weight loss but with reducing heart disease and diabetes.

“Some of the things that have added to the critical success is that it’s been whanau-focused, so it’s not just about the individual. It’s about who cooks the meal, who purchases the kai. It’s about lifestyle change for the whole whanau, not just the individual,” she says.

GPs at Tamaki PHO can also refer patients to an on-staff social worker, psychologist, and other specialists.

NEW ZEALANDER WHITE NOISE IN CENSUS

A fivefold jump in the number of people identifying themselves as a New Zealander in the Census could be a challenge for Maori.

Statistics New Zealand says 429,429 people, or 11.1 percent of the population, wrote New Zealander in response to the ethnicity question.

Independent demographer Tahu Kukutai says that explains why the number of people of European descent dropped from 80 to 67 percent.

Those identifying themselves as a New Zealander were more likely to be older, male, living in rural areas of the South Island and with more educational qualifications and higher average incomes than the total population.

Ms Kukutai says the write-in campaign was encouraged by some Opposition MPs, and it remains to be seen whether the trend will continue.

She says there are dangers in confusing national identity with ethnicity.

“If increasingly this New Zealander ethnicity comes to be associated with people who are otherwise understood to be New Zealand European, or white or Pakeha or however you want to frame it, what does that imply for our national identity in a sense of belonging if it becomes more of an exclusive label,” Ms Kukutai says.

MAORI ECONOMY CARBON NEGATIVE

While the rest of the country strives to be carbon neutral, the Maori economy is already carbon negative.

That's according to Roger Pikia, the Waiariki representative on a Maori Reference Group on climate change.

The group is developing the Maori response to new emissions trading and carbon credit policies.

Mr Pikia says two thirds of Maori land is covered in indigenous or production forests, more than off-setting Maori participation in pastoral and dairy farming.

“We're of the view that upon measuring the carbon footprint of the Maori economy, that the Maori economy is actually carbon negative, so we want that to be acknowledged, recognized and rewarded, not have other sectors of the country riding on the coattails of the Maori economy for no reward,” Mr Pikia says.

The reference group wants acknowledgement that there is a separate Maori economy when carbon credits are allocated.

MALLARD AX WRECKS GP SCHEME

The axing of an affirmative action programme is damaging a core Maori health initiative.

As part of a review of race-based policies led by then state services minister Trevor Mallard in response to Don Brash's Orewa speech, the government scrapped scholarship for Maori registrars who wanted to do the extra training to become a GP.

They were replaced with a new scholarships for students wanting to improve Maori and Pacific Island health.

Karen Thomas from the Royal College of General Practitioners says those scholarships are open to all doctors, and they do nothing to address the critical shortage of Maori GPs on the front lines of the health sector.

“While we have been very successful in increasing the number of doctors generally who are interested in being trained as GPs, we have not been able to increase the number of Maori doctors to be trained as GPs,” Ms Thomas says.

Only two percent of GPs are Maori.

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