Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ngai Tahu tourism aspirations

Ngai Tahu Tourism is looking to build on a record profit.

The company pulled in more than half a million visitors to its attractions, which include Rotorua's Rainbow Springs, guiding companies on the Franz Josef Glacier, Queenstown's Shotover Jet and Dart River Safaris, and 43 percent of Kaikoura Whalewatch.

It made $8.6 million, before interest and tax, on revenue of $39 million.

Its chief executive, John Thorburn, says a new strategy of running the business in regional clusters is paying off.

He says Ngai Tahu Tourism is well positioned within the industry.

“We believe we’re quite well positioned to really leverage off what is in fact the Tourism New Zealand strategy which is linking the landscapes with the people through the experiences. That’s really where we’re heading as a national marketing push and it aligns very well to Ngai Tahu’s values and aspirations,” Mr Thorburn says.

The company is planning to up its investment in the West Coast by building a hot pools complex at Franz Josef.

EAT LESS AND MOVE MORE

Eat less and move more.

That's the message coming out of the Obesity Action Coalition's annual hui in Wellington yesterday.

Director Leigh Sturgess says obesity is a preventable disease, but there is no simple cure.

New research shows Maori children are more likely to be overweight than non-Maori, with junk food a major cause.

Ms Sturgess says the problem reaches across the Maori population, with many people failing to reach their potential or dying from obesity-related illness before they reach kaumatua status.

“And if you're severely overweight or have cardiac problems or diabetes or a whole lot iof issues, health issues, then you aren’t a contributing member of society and you’re just sitting watching life go by when with a little bit of care earlier on, it could have been easily avoided,” Ms Sturgess says.

The push to eat healthily is often derailed by low income or just complacency.

SUFFRAGE TIME TO CELEBRATE MWDI AND MWWL

A former Maori Women’s Welfare League president says the growing economic strength of Maori women shows the ideals of the suffrage movement in action.

It's Suffrage Week, marking 114 years since New Zealand women were given the vote.

Dame Georgina Kirby says it's an occasion to honour groups like the league, which continue the fight to empower women.

She says when the league set up the Maori Women's Development Incorporation in 1987 to make loans and mentor Maori, there were less than 1000 Maori in business.

“Today there's about 22,000 Maori in business. That’s 20 years. And the Maori contribution to the economy of this country is now $9 billion, so it’s still quite and encouragement for our people,” Dame Georgina says.

A challenge for Maori is to keep connected to their cultural roots as they move ahead economically.

KURA PRINCIPAL GETS CHANCE TO GET TRILINGUAL

An award winning writer of Maori has just won a scholarship ... to learn Spanish.

Uenuku Fairhall from Te Arawa and Ngai Te Rangi has just picked up his second Pikihuia short story award.

Now the Education Ministry is giving the Rotorua kura kaupapa principal the chance to spend a year in a Spanish-speaking country - probably Mexico.

Mr Fairhall says the award requires him to teach up to five hours a week at a local school - which he sees as a great opportunity.

You're observing what’s happening in the school. You’re to involve yourself in as many cultural events as you possibly can so you not only come back being proficient in the language, but you also have a lot of cultural understanding,” he says.

Last year Mr Fairhall took 31 students from his kura to Mexico for three months ... which helped their Spanish considerably.

JUNK FOOD AD BAN CALL

The Obesity Action Coalition wants junk food ads banned from around children's television programmes.

The coalition has released a report on the links between advertising and children's health, called Would you like LIES with that?

Leonie Matoe from Te Hotu Manawa Maori says advertising may be one of the reasons Maori tamariki are more likely to be overweight than other children.

“It directly points to the effect of advertising and marketing on what the children or tamariki like to buy, what sorts of kai they ask for and what they like to eat. If you’ve been shopping in the supermarket with your tamariki performing that factor, you can’t deny them sometimes what they are asking for,” Ms Matoe says.

Pressure from ads can put extra stress on whanau trying to put healthy kai on the table.

UNIDENTIFIED ARTIST OBJECTS

A Maori take on space navigation has been unveiled at a South Auckland gallery.

U-F-O-B at Te Tuhi centre for the arts in Pakuranga is a collaboration between sculptor Brett Graham and digital artist Rachael Rakena.

Viewers are encouraged to lie on beanbags on the floor of a darkened gallery looking up at 15 round screens housed in carved wooden forms, reminiscent of spacecraft or waka.

Ms Rakena says the piece explores themes of Pacific migration, rising sea levels and submersion.

It comes with a specially commissioned soundtrack.

“The soundtrack was made with Paddy Free especially for this, so it’s a combination of theremin, guitar, ukelele. Ned Ngatai came and played the guitar for us. It’s kind of a deconstructed pearly shells,” Ms Rakena says.

U-F-O-B runs until November.

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