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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, August 31, 2007

Maori Trustee should be independent

The Maori Council wants the revamped Maori Trust Office to be completely independent of government and answerable only to Maori.

The Government says it intends to separate the Office from Te Puni Kokiri, but its role will be unchanged.

The Maori Trustee administers more than 100,000 hectares of Maori land, much of it in blocks which are considered uneconomic or where owners can't be found.

Maori Council chair Sir Graham says the separation is a positive move after years of indecision, but important questions of governance are still unanswered.

He'd like to see an elected board to oversee the Maori Trust Office, and even appoint the Maori Trustee.

“It must be governed by the people. Maoridom must vote for this and we all have to go to the ballot because no one can freely say that they’ve got the authority to do anything,” Sir Graham says.

The Government has to learn to trust Maoridom to look after its own affairs.


The head of Hamilton urban Maori authority Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa is hoping three is the charm.

Matiu Dickson is standing for Hamilton City Council for the third time.

If he wins, he'll break a 15-year drought of no Maori representatives.

Mr Dickson has served on the Tauranga District Council and now works as a law lecturer at the University of Waikato.

He's shocked at the way the council interacts with Maori.

“We have 27,000 Maori people that live here and about half of them would come from Tainui and the other half are like me and come from mata waka. Quite frankly the council here does not engage with the Maori community full stop. So that's got to change,” Mr Dickson says.

He would like to see Tainui have more input into council decisions, because the iwi is the biggest landowner and ratepayer in the city.


An Auckland photographer is inviting marae to exhibit his pictures of Maori.

Chris Traill says he's a people photographer, and has gathered a huge collection of images during his career.

A show of his work, including many shot over almost two decades of Auckland secondary schools cultural festivals, comes down today after a short season at the Fresh Gallery in Otara.

Mr Traill says his work has often appeared in Maori publications, but he'd like to find other ways to reach Maori audiences.

“I photograph all sorts of cultures but particularly have really strong work within Maoridom and there are people of character in abundance within Maoridom and my camera’s just drawn to you people and I feel a real privilege that I am in this country and able to live my life with such a beautiful race of people,” Mr Traill says.


One of the biggest events in the Maori tertiary calender gets underway in a few hours in Auckland.

It's the biannual Maori Expo, hosted by the Auckland University of Technology, but open to all tertiary institutions.

On the agenda are fashion shows, kapa haka, and forums where Maori leaders discuss business, politics and sport.

Pare Keiha, the AUT's pro vice chancellor for Maori advancement, says the event has become an important part of the university's branding.

“We have an ambition to be the university of choice for Maori, and that as you might imagine is no simple task. The genesis of the expo comes out of a significant want to celebrate our identity, not only as a university but to celebrate our identity as a university that has a significant commitment to Maori,” associate professor Keiha says.


The Minister of Maori Affairs wants to see a change of culture among young Maori.

Parekura Horomia says the link between illiteracy and gang involvement identified by south Auckland youth workers is a reminder how much more needs to be done to reach Maori boys during their formative years.

He says low academic achievement has a lot to do with attitude.

“I think it's a culture issue with the young fellows. Certainly literacy is part of it but it’s also the hang up of the macho imagery, you know, as you play good hard rugby, if you do the haka and you’re in the front row you’re staunch, so that’s something we will unbundle as we go along,” Mr Horomia says.

The extension to more schools of Te Kahikatia and Te Kotahitanga programmes, which focus on Maori students' achievement, may help the situation.


National's leader says he won't be shy about using the party's list to get more Maori into Parliament.

National now has three list MPs with Maori ancestry, but in the past has also had Maori representing general seats.

John Key says internal polling shows increasing support among Maori for National, though that is from a very low base.

He says that should translate into some strong candidates.

“There's two or three I’d say high profile Maori have made it clear to me privately their intentions to run. I think that’s great. I’ve mad It quite clear we intend to use the list as a sort of sure fire way to build greater ethnic diversity in the party,” Mr key says.

He says a lot of the support will depend on the kind of policies National is able to present leading up to next year's election.


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