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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

King’s speech sets out legacy

The Maori king has set the tone for his reign with a promise to build on his mother's legacy.

King Tuheitia's coronation speech ended the week-long Koroneihana hui at Ngaruawahi yesterday.

Delivered in te reo Maori, it emphasised the importance of culture, life long learning and the strengthening of links not just among Maori but with the indienous peoples of the pacific and beyond.

Tainui kaumatua Koro Wetere, says it was the sort of message the thousands gathered at Turangawaewae wanted to hear.

“A good opening was made in his maiden speech to the people of New Zealand that he intended to carry on with the programme that was left by his late mother and to firmly concentrate on the areas of education and particularly working among our young people in bringing about a closer relationship of our people,” Mr Wetere says.

CLARK UNFAZED BY UN DRUBBING

The Prime Minister is dismissing a UN report critical of the way her government is handling Maori and treaty issues.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said the government was diminishing the importance and relevance of the Treaty of Waitangi.

It said the policy of scrapping any programme which could be said to be based on ethnicity had created a context unfavourable to the rights of Maori.

Helen Clark says the criticism was coming from a body which doesn't have the status of the Security Council of General Assembly.

“It comes from a committee which is not populated by ambassadors or even representatives of countries. It’s people drawn from different walks of life in particular counties, and it’s clear when you look at what countries who have (quote) “experts” on it that New Zealand’s human rights record would stand up extremely well against all of them,” she says.

Ms Clark says the report does contain some worthwhile suggestions which the government will take on board.

TXT FOR HELP AND WIN BIG

Maori with gambling problems should benefit from a new Gambling Helpline text message service.

Chief executive Krista Ferguson says a sense of whakamaa or shame stopped many Maori with gambling problems from seeking help.

She says texting was a private way of taking the first steps to get help.

Ms Ferguson says Maori are three and a half times more likely to experience gambling related harm.

“We already know in New Zealand that pokie machines in pubs and clubs are concentrated in lower socioeconomic areas. We’ve been able to map that. So those things are out there in communities where unfortunately Maori are more likely to be living,” Ms Ferguson says.

Gamblers who send an anonymous free text to 8006 will get a free number they can call to get advice or resources to help them tackle their problem.

GROUP TO TACKLE DOUBLE DISADVANTAGE

Maori children with disabilities are doubly disadvantaged in access to education.

Metiria Turei, the Green's spokesperson on both education and disability, says the Inclusive Education Action Group to be launched today will fight those barriers,

The group is made up of academics, practitioners, disabled people ... and parents concerned at difficulties their children face going to their local school.

Ms Turei says Maori parents face challenges not only finding schools which will take their disabled children, but which will teach them in a way which is culturally engaging.

“Since Maori children are often excluded or somehow discouraged from participating fully in school for other reasons, Maori disability groups have a really good understanding of what that means to be excluded and what’s needed for the children to be included,” Ms Turei says.

TREATY PROCESS CREATING FRESH GRIEVANCES

A Maori historian says problems with its Auckland Central and central North Island settlements are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Government doesn't appear to have the numbers to pass settlement legislation because of concerns the deals exclude many legitimate claimants.

Paul Moon, a professor of history at Auckland University of Technology, says the Office of Treaty Settlements cut corners in its hurry to get tribal areas off its books.

He says that means it is not only ignoring traditional relationships and tikanga within Maori society, it is also ripping up the law on the way treaties with indigenous peoples should be interpreted.

“Even as far as Pakeha culture goes they’re breaching the rules of the game, so there’s no excuse in a way to say they’re not familiar with tikanga and so on and that’s the problem, because it’s not just about that. They’re not even familiar with the basic precepts of international law regarding treaties, and the recognition of parties to treaties. Sort that out, and you sort half the problem out,” Professor Moon says.

Hapu who have been left out of major regional settlements now find no place to go to get their grievances heard.

ARTIST WEAVING MAORI CONCEPTS INTO WORK

A mixed media artist is crediting Ngati Tuwharetoa for inspiring works which are being bought around the world.

Raewyn Booth, of Chinese and Welsh whakapapa, says growing up in Taupo led to close contacts with tangata whenua and a continuing interest in natural fibres and Maori concepts.

Her work has won judges' and people's choice awards at Tuwharetoa's annual Toi Ake festival of contemporary Maori art.

She says working across cultures can pose challenges.

“A lot of things I have tried to get in to I have not been able to because I haven’t got a whakapapa. But now I have. The Tuwharetoa tribe. They’ve adopted me. They’ve been so supportive to me because I’ve put their culture on the map with my stuff, because it’s been really successful," Ms Booth says.

Her current collection of fibre works, Nature's Embellishments, is at the Rotorua Arts Village until the end of the month.

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