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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Polynesian ariki to repeat summit

Ariki from the Polynesian triangle have agreed to meet in French Polynesia every two years to build on ancestral links and uphold their traditional cultures.

Maori king Tuheitia and Tuwharetoa paramount chief Tumu te Heuheu were among the traditional leaders who attended a three day summit at Taputapuatea marae on the island of Raiatea, at the invitation of Tahiti's Prince Joinville Pomare.

Waatea correspondent Julian Wilcox says Raiatea is probably the Hawaiiki Maori ancestors left from to come to Aotearoa.

The ariki issued a declaration setting out their aims.

“Trying to maintain and uphold the cultural values of each iwi, that this is not a political movement, it’s a cultural movement and therefore politics should stay out of this particular forum, and that this hui that is going to be held every two years be held at Taputapuatea on Raiatea given that it is the spiritual epicenter of the peoples from the Polynesian triangle,” Mr Wilcox says.

Julian Wilcox says after the summit the ariki were welcomed to Tahiti by newly-reelected president Oscar Temaru - who the previous week had urged the leaders not to come because of the political instability in the lead up to last Friday's election.

MANU KORERO LAUNCHED

Students and supporters are gathering at the Manukau events centre about now to be welcomed on to the country's premier Maori speech competition.

Nga Manu Korero has been showcasing the oratorical skills of Maori students since 1965, when former politician Donna Awatere Huata was among the first winners.

Te Makao Bowkett, one of the judges of the English section, says one of the changes this year is to shorten the preparation time for the impromptu section to five minutes ... to reflect the reality of whaikorero on the marae atea.

“There's always been, and I say this respectfully, a purist view that we don’t take time to prepare, we don’t take time to write notes. We are given a kaupapa and we stand and rise and respond naturally, spontaneously and accordingly,” Ms Bowkett says.

The competitions run until Thursday.

MAORI APPROPRIATION STILL RAISES HACKLES

A Tuhoe artist says New Zealand culture is still struggling with how to incorporate Maori icons.

Reuben Paterson's latest show at Auckland's Gow Langsford Gallery opens tonight.

He says any artists trying to develop a New Zealand iconography are using symbols like hei tiki in contemporary ways ... but they often fail to show respect for their source materials, or treat them in an honest way.

“New Zealand needs icons and they always come from first cultures but I think there sometimes needs to be a bit more respect in how taonga is handled by artists and I’m not speaking of Maori artists, I’m speaking of everybody I think,” Mr Paterson says.

He says the way images of hei tiki are being put on t-shirts and other commercial items are devaluing the taonga.

TAHITIAN PM MAKES AMENDS FOR WARNING

Newly re-elected French Polynesian president Oscar Temaru has made his peace with Pacific traditional leaders, after earlier telling them not to come to his country.

Ariki from around the Polynesian triangle, including Maori king Tuheitia and Tuwharetoa paramount chief Tumu te Heuheu, have just held a three-day summit on Raiatea to recognise ancestral connections and discuss ways to strengthen traditional culture.

Mr Temaru and political rival Gaston Flosse had jointly signed a letter asking the ariki not to come, because of fears of political instability in the lead up to last Friday's election.

But Waatea correspondent Julian Wilcox says one the summit was over, the president hosted the leaders to a dinner at his palace in Tahiti.

“Him doing so was more a case of ‘Look, it wasn’t about the fact that I didn’t want the hui to happen, it’s more about the fact that we were going through these political issues, and the country wasn’t politically secure at the time.’ So maybe that’s what it was. That’s what he was saying it was,” Mr Wilcox says.

The Maori delegation has been invited back to the presidential palace for lunch today, before it returns to Aotearoa.

FINANCE BILL WILL STIFLE ADVOCACY

The Apiha Maori of the Post Primary Teachers Association fears reform of electoral financing will prevent it advocating for Maori.

The proposed bill widens the definition of political advertising to stop groups voicing opinions if they were the same as those adopted by any political party.

Te Makao Bowkett says groups like the PPTA need to be able to comment on issues that affect them.

She says the PPTA doesn't just represent teachers, but also the interests of students and their wider whanau.

“We need to be in a position politically to always express what we are in agreement with, what we feel could be done better in terms of Vote Education policy, putea, funding of secondary education, so we’ve always got to be free to express that as a professional body,” Ms Bowkett says.

She says trying to limit free speech is a threat to New Zealand's liberal democracy.

NO VOTE WON’T KEEP DECLARATION DOWN

A leading Maori academic says the government's vote against the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples isn't the end of the matter.

Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, from Waikato University's Centre for Maori and Pacific Development Research, says the issues covered in the declaration have been extensively debated in New Zealand over the past two decades.

She says there are other avenues to lobby for change ... such as the WAI 262 Maori intellectual property claim being argued by lawyer Maui Solomon and others.

“Even though the decision has been made at that level in that forum, that doesn’t mean that the korero has stopped, that the discussions are a waste of time. Which is why I really admire the work being done by Maui and the guys and women – because it means the wero is still out there,” Dr Te Awekotuku says.

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