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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, August 10, 2007

Last song for Sonny Day

Musicians from around the country will be heading to Taitokerau over the weekend to farewell entertainer Sonny Day.

The Maori showband veteran died yesterday.

Born Hone Wikaira, Day launched his career in the late 1950s, playing with his band the Sundowners at Auckland venues like Trades Hall and the Jive Centre.

His career took him to Australia and the Pacific Islands, and he had a revival in the 1980s with the blues-based Sonny Day and the Allstars.

Max Purdy, the pianist in the Sundowners, says New Zealand has lost one of its best singers.

“He had a very rich, rich golden voice, one of the most beautiful voices I’ve every heard, and later on he went the blues way, but this was prior to that period. When he went the blues way his voice developed very husky, but he was one of the best at what he did,” Mr Purdy says.

The tangi is at Motukaraka Marae in Rawene.

HARAWIRA FINDS REASONS TO BE IN ALICE

Hone Harawira is defending his side trip to Alice Springs as a legitimate use of Parliamentary resources.

The Tai Tokerau MP left a select committee trip to Melbourne three days early, and flew to Alice Springs to talk with Aboriginal leaders about the
Australian Federal government's crackdown on child abuse in outback communities.

He says rather than meeting with Australian officials, he wanted to talk to people on the other side of the rabbit proof fence.

“We came over here as part of a justice and electoral law select committee trip to look at issues around electoral matters like why the hell Aboriginals would want to bother when both Labour and National over here want to be stealing their land. We’re over here to talk about legal services, which aboriginal people have very little access to. We’re over here talking about victims rights, and nobody knows more about victims rights than Aboriginal people brother,” Mr Harawira says.

The Clerk's Office has been asked by the Speaker to investigate whether any action should be taken against Mr Harawira for his unauthorised walkabout.

HEALTH TARGETS COULD HELP MAORI

New health targets should help improve Maori health.
Associate health minister Mita Ririnui says the ten targets aim at areas like immunisation rates, reducing waiting times for cancer treatment and getting more people checked for diabetes.

He says the goals are achievable - the Wairarapa District Health Board managed to immunise 94 percent of Maori children in its region, far more than the national average and even higher than its coverage of Pakeha children.

“They won't be impossible. They won’t even be difficult. But for that to happen to a very high response level, they need to be targeted specifically, they need to be resourced specifically, and then they need to be reported against specifically in terms of the increased health situation of particular communities,” Mr Ririnui says.

The targets are aimed at the health of all New Zealanders, but there are key areas where Maori feature highly in negative statistics.


PYLON FAST TRACK HAS HAPU NERVOUS

A Waikato hapu is considering going back to the Waitangi Tribunal if it can't get a fair hearing from the body considering a new power line to Auckland.

Spokesperson Willie Te Aho says the Transpower's new pylons will start at Lake Karapiro, which is the awa of Ngati Koroki Kahukura.

The hapu had sought a tribunal hearing on the plan, but were told to go through the Resource Management Act process first.

Mr Te Aho says now the Government is setting up an independent board of inquiry on the plan, bypassing the RMA, a lot will depend on who sits on the board.

“Our view is that there must be someone who fully appreciates tikanga Maori and issues relating specifically to Maori. It may be in a commercial sense but there still needs to be someone who understands those issues on the board,” he says.

Mr Te Aho says opposition to the pylon planning has created rare unity between Maori, farmers and other affected communities.

ARAWA SETTLEMENT BILL MISSES DEADLINE

Opponents of a Rotorua land settlement are heartened by the Government's failure to introduce legislation implementing the deal.

The Waitangi Tribunal has recommended the settlement with Nga Kaihautu o Te Arawa be delayed because of its effect on the greater Te Arawa confederation and neighbouring iwi.

Representatives of most Te Arawa hapu met yesterday to discuss ways to resolve rifts in the iwi, and to develop an alternative settlement which includes the whole tribe.

Maanu Paul, who was at the hui, says the government is missing important deadlines because it can't win cross party support for the bill.

“They didn't get it into the House last night so obviously the Government hasn’t got the numbers and for our group of people, they’re totally overjoyed and see it as a great victory for democracy,” Mr Paul says.

A spokesperson for the Treaty Negotiations minister, Mark Burton, says the MMP process means the government needs to consult with other parties, and that can take time.

VC, PROPHET’S BIRTHDAY MARK WEEKEND

It's a big weekend for Maori as they mark two important milestones.

At Te Kaha, groups from around the motu have gathered to welcome home Willie Apiata, the first New Zealand soldier since World War Two to win a Victoria Cross for bravery.

Corporal Apiata grew up in the eastern Bay of Plenty, but there's a big contingent from Ngapuhi, where his family came from.

On the other side of the island near Taumarunui, more than 5000 supporters from around the world are expected at Manu Ariki Marae to celebrate the 90th birthday of prophet Alex Phillips.

While his Kotahitanga Building Society isn't as well known as other movements like Ratana and Ringatu, anthropologist Bernie Kernot says Mr Phillips is part of the Maori prophetic tradition.

“Prophets very characteristically arise in troubled times, and these people tend to have kind of visions which change the way people see themselves and see their world and so they kind of build new worlds,” Mr Kernot says.

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