Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, September 10, 2007

Universal screening for baby bashers

The Children’s Commissioner expects widespread Maori support for her plan for universal risk assessment and support for new babies.

Cindy Kiro wants a system where those caring for newborns to nominate a health provider to assess progress through home visits.

She says because existing tamariki ora and well child initiatives funded by the Health Ministry are voluntary, many at risk children fall through the cracks.

This can particularly affect Maori, who tend to be more mobile than other groups in society.

She says while some groups seem to resent the idea, Maori communities she has spoken to are supportive.

Children’s welfare must be paramount.

“I think it’s got to a point where we can’t stomach seeing these babies injured and hurt any more. That means a few people have their homes visited a few more times by a few more people. Hopefully the intention is to provide them with support. The intention is not to act as a little detective agency,” Dr Kiro says.

At the moment 11 children a week are admitted to hospital with injuries caused by caregivers or family members.


Northland tribe Te Rarawa believes its treaty settlement breaks new ground in recognising iwi interests over Conservation land.

Chairperson Haami Piripi says the agreement in principle signed at Panguru on Friday includes a new concept called Whenua Ngahere which will promote Te Rarawa participation in the management of DOC estate in their rohe.

He says it’s a significant acknowledgement of the tribe’s status as mana whenua of the area from the northern side of Hokianga Harbour to the base of the Aupouri Peninsula.

“A large part of our settlement is around the Conservation estate. We’ve managed to broker an innovative solution to the issue of one third of our rohe being Conservation estate, to get the Crown to recogise that we have mana whenua in the area of our rohe,” Mr Piripi says.

The rest of the settlement, including $20 million in cash and assets and 29 percent of Aupouri Forest, should give Te Rarawa a sound economic base.


A Canterbury University researcher has been given half a million dollars by the Marsden Fund to investigate changes in the way women speak Maori.

Margaret Maclagan says her work will complement a project which has been running for the past four years, in which researchers compare archive recordings of men born in the 19th century with the way old and young men from the same tribal rohe speak now.

Professor Maclagan says the influence of women on the sound and rhythm of a language may be even more important.

“Internationally women tend to be in the lead in language changes and secondly because women are particularly important in passing the language on to the next generation,” she says.

The moves to revitalise Maori through kohanga reo, after a generation of neglect, means the study could test fundamental hypotheses on language change and transmission.


Mandatory screening for families with newborn babies will help make people realise child abuse isn’t just a Maori problem.

Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro says while recent high profile cases has drawn attention to disproportionately high rates of family violence among Maori, it’s a problem than cuts across ethnic and socioeconomic lines.

She says targeting perceived at-risk groups is less effective and more expensive than a universal approach.

She’s advocating mandatory screening at key times in a child’s life, starting with an assessment at the time of birth.

“Are there previous referrals to Child Youth and Family for child abuse or neglect? Is there a history of drug or alcohol abuse? Is there a history of family violence? Keep a watchful eye out for those things. Take an opportunity art birth to basically see what’s going on and turn the odds in favour of the babies,” Dr Kiro says.

Her proposals build on existing well child and tamariki ora programmes.


Colonial intimacies, intimate colonialism is the title of a new study of inter-racial marriage in Aotearoa in the two centuries to 1969.

Angela Wanhalla from Otago University's history department has been granted $165,000 from the Marsden Research Fund for the two-year project.

Given how important interracial marriage has been to the development of modern New Zealand’s society, culture, and identity, she's interested in official attitudes over the years.

“So we're looking at how far the state was interested in dealing with inter-racial marriage and how far the state was interested in regulating it and how they managed it through the census and also how far the churches were interested in managing inter-racial marriage and what they thought about how New Zealand society was developing over the nineteenth and early twentieth century,” Dr Wanhalla says.

She expects to find regional differences, especially in places like the deep south, Poverty Bay and far north which had earlier contact with European and American sealers and whalers.


Former All Black Glen Osborne says the decision by the Italian squad to turn their backs on this weekend’s haka was more about Italian rugby than a deliberate cultural snub.

Mr Osborne, who has played for clubs in Japan, France and Italy says the Italians knew they were in for a tough encounter, and didn't want to give their opponents any advantage.

“I don't think it was a cultural thing at all. I think they just didn’t want to face up because they knew it was intimidating for them and they jkust wanted to focus on their own game. I think they were just scared from the very start,” Glen Osborne says.

The All Blacks went on to win 76-14 in their opening World Cup match in Marseille.


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