Waatea News Update

News from Waatea 603 AM, Urban Maori radio, first with Maori news

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Reo foundation at Kaikoura

Kaikoura High School is making Maori language lessons compulsory for its year seven and eight students from next year.

Principal Brian Allison says the subject is currently only available as a one term option.

He says a third of the roll is Maori, and the school is developing a five year plan to boost Maori achievement.

“It's also a chance for us to have another language in the school and I think Maori is as important as any other language to have. I don’t see us putting in French and Japanese and so on. I think the Maori language is pretty important for our kids to get a grasp of and some background knowledge," Mr Allison says.

Kaikoura High School will also boost the effort it puts into kapa haka and tikanga lessons.

AHIPENE MERCER CONFIRMS MAYORAL RUN

Wellington City's only Maori councilor wants to take the step up to mayor.

Luthier and environmentalist Ray Ahipene-Mercer from Ngai Tara is one of half a dozen Maori around the country seeking mayor office in next month's elections.

He says in his seven year representing the eastern ward, he's shown that he is able to bring people together from different viewpoints.

Mr Ahipene-Mercer is seeking support from across the political spectrum.

“I'm not standing and never have stood totally on a Maori platform. I’ve been active on Maori issues before I was a city councilor and some people I’ve no doubt support me on that, both Pakeha and Maori, but I’ve always worked on a platform of trying to bring together people from all ethnicities and all political views, even those I may not fundamentally agree with,” he says.

Mr Ahipene-Mercer says the Wellington council has developed strong links with tangata whenua and taura here groups in recent years, and sitting councilors have been strong supporters of Maori concerns

WEAVING TOGETHER THE BIG APPLE

A Ngati Kuri woman has won a trip to the Big Apple through her dedication to traditional weaving.

Bethany Edmunds has been given an AMP premium scholarship to complete a Master of Arts at New York University.

She'll be studying costuming and textile conservation, with the intention of eventually restoring and perhaps repatriating some of the korowai held by overseas institutions.

Ms Edmunds says when she started weaving at 12 alongside the late Nikki Lawrence of Te Rarawa, she had no idea where those early lessons might take her.

“I never realised at the time when I learnt to do mahi whatu that it was going to open the doorway to the rest of my life essentially and the responsibility I have now knowing this mahi is quite huge. I’m aware now it’s my responsibility to ensure its survival and pass it on to other people,” Ms Edmunds says.

TUATARA TRIP VETO OPENS TREATY WOUNDS

A dispute over tourist trips to a sensitive offshore island has reopened wounds about a treaty settlement.

The Department of Conservation has refused to give Tuatara Maori Limited a concession to take up to 56 tourists a year to Takapourewa or Stephen's Island, at the top of the Marlborough Sounds.

Roma Hippolyte from Ngati Koata, which has a 10 percent stake in the company, says it's a sign the iwi has lost its mana over the island, which is home to 50 thousand tuatara and other rare reptiles, frogs and insects.

Takapourewa was returned to the iwi in 1994, but it was required to immediately gift the island back and take on a co-management role.

Mr Hippolyte says that was not what the elders expected, and led to ongoing mamae or pain.

“There are many DoC staff and managers who understand the spirit of the deed and wish to be inclusive and work with us but the policies of the department are black and white and in this case they do not respect us and so yes, the policies work unilaterally against us," Mr Hippolyte says.

MAORI RATING CHANGE NOT A RACIAL ISSUE

The Green's local government spokesperson says the problem of Maori rating shouldn't be seen as a racial issue.

An independent panel says the basis for rating Maori land should be changed, because the current system leads to owners facing excessive charges.

Auckland mayoral candidate John Banks says the recommendation would lead to race-based rating.

But Metiria Turei says Mr Banks is showing his ignorance.

“This is not about race. This is about the different status that Maori land has under Te Ture Whenua Maori Act, the fact it can’t be sold and that it has multiple ownership and therefore does require different consideration,” she says.

Metiria Turei says Maori voters should make the rating system an issue in the current local government elections.

POU STOLEN FROM MASTERTON MARAE

The carver of a pou stolen from a Masterton marae says things aren't what they used to be.

Takirirangi Smith from Whitireia Polytechnic created the poupou for the front of Heru a Rangi Marae almost 20 years ago.

He's just got back from a ten-week artist residency at Evergreen State College in Washington to find out about the theft earlier this month.

Mr Smith says when he started carving, no one would have considered violating tapu by stealing such a taonga.

“There was a lot more respect about touching those things, even among the Pakeha community. Things have certainly shifted a lot. It's hugely disappointing,” he says.

Mr Smith says the marae plans to increase its security by putting a gate up, but some in the Rongomaia Te Waaka hapu believe the valuable work will eventually find its way back.

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