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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Taupo protesters stand convicted

The secretary of a Taupo trust at the centre of land occupation believes the majority of owners still support development of the site.

In the Taupo District Court yesterday, Judge Chris McGuire convicted nine people of wilfully trespassing on the Hiruharama Ponui block at Acacia Bay, and ordered them to come up for sentence if called upon within 12 months.

Trust secretary Andrew Kusabs says the group includes a couple of shareholders, but the majority of those opposing the up market subdivision are outsiders.

“It seems that anyone can come along now to these things and make noises. Our owners are still definitely in favour of the development, and we will show that at our next agm,” he says.

The protesters say they'll appeal, but Andrew Kusabs says it's the eighth court action they've lost, and they'll lose again.


An international expert on restorative justice says New Zealand is backsliding on incorporating Maori culture and values into the justice system.

Fulbright scholar Howard Zehr from the Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia is making his sixth visit to Aotearoa.

He says while New Zealand led the world by introducing restorative elements into its youth justice system, it has done little to extend those ideas into the adult system.

Given New Zealand's rate of adult imprisonment being one of the highest in the world, particularly of Maori, that is a concern.

“There needs to be a deeper engagement between the Pakeha and the Maori community around justice values, justice processes and so forth. I think that could contribute to it, as it did to the youth justice model,” Professor Zehr says.

New Zealand should build on the work already done by the 30 groups doing restorative justice work with adults.


Pan Maori company Aotearoa Fisheries will be looking for new opportunites in the Hawkes Bay and East Coast regions to service its new processing plant.

The factory in a former meatworks in the Napier suburb of Awatoto replaces the Moana Pacific lobster plant at Ahuriri.

AFL executive chair Robin Hapi says it has a blasting facility to snap freeze fish almost as soon as they come off the boats, as well as more capacity to handle rock lobsters and developmental species such as red and king crabs.

“The plant that we had before was 5000 square metres. This one is just under 7000, so it gives us opportunity to expand, and there are a range of interesting developments in the Hawkes Bay region that we would like to investigate and we will be in the coming months,” Mr Hapi says.

The Awatoto plant makes Aotearoa Fisheries the largest fish processor in the Hawkes Bay region.


Taupo protesters hope their trespass convictions will help unravel a long-standing land dispute.

Nine people were yesterday convicted of trespassing on waterfront land near Acacia Bay, which has been leased by the Hiruharama Ponui Trust for an 80 million dollar subdivision.

District Court judge Chris McGuire told the protesters he was bound by decisions of other courts that the lease was legal, so the developer had the right to remove occupiers.

Trust shareholder Moira Bramley, who unsuccessfully challenged the lease before the High Court and the Maori Appellate Court, says the group is looking forward to the appeal.

“When these trespassers were arrested, we lodged the appeal file, the Maori Appellate Court file, as their defence, so all of those issues are in that file so therefore it’s moved now into the High Court and we can use all of that evidence that we filed to sort this out,” she says.

Ms Bramley says she has run the cases so far, but she is now looking for a lawyer.


The Smokefree Environments Act is being credited with making a major difference to the amount of secondhand smoke Maori are exposed to.

Otago University researcher Richard Edwards told the Oceania Tobacco Control Conference the legislation is proving popular, and compliance is higher than critics predicted when it was passed four years ago.

He says it's made a real impact in workplaces and even in Maori households.

“About 27 or 28 percent of Maori were reporting exposure to secondhand smoke compared to about 18 percent of non-Maori and 2005 after the Act it was about 12 percent versus 7 percent, so the gap had narrowed and by 2006 it had narrowed further, so it was really quite a positive finding,” Mr Edwards says.


Otautahi kaumatua are learning how to turn their life experiences into resources for future generations.

The 15 elders ... average age 73 ... attend weekly classes at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology's Maori learning centre, Te Puna Wanaka.

Kai Tahu kuia Naomi Bunker says members composes waiata and proverbs for rangatahi, play games, share life stories, write their memoirs and talk about their whanau.

Some of their work is being complied into a book and CD.

81-year-old Mrs Bunker says it's a welcome chance to make new friends near her own age.

“It's really really sharing, and no matter what it is, nobody downs anyone else, and you can say what you want to share and that’s it, and it’s a thing that I’ve missed because of the span between my age and the next we’ve got in our runanga,” she says.

Te Puna Wanaka head Hana O'Regan says by taking part in the classes, the kaumatua are inspiring some of their own mokopuna to learn.


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