Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Waikato challenged to help in new prison

North Waikato Maori are being challenged to help with the rehabilitation of inmates in the new Spring Hills Prison.

Kim Workman from Prison Fellowship says many Waikato Maori opposed the new prison facility being put on their doorstep, but the time for criticism is over.

He says the Corrections Department is trying to create prisons which encourage behavioural changes, and the people of Waikato can help.

“We know that there is less corruption in prisons where there is a lot of volunteers and community organisations engaged, and the challenge for Waikato is not to criticise it but to actually engage with it and make it part of their community,” Mr Workman says.

Many Maori prisoners never have visitors, or get the chance to build up support networks they can draw upon when they are released


The government's disaster awareness website has been translated into Maori.

John Hamilton, the director of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, says the getthru.govt.nz site gives tips on how to prepare for and recover from earthquakes, floods and tsunami.

He says putting the information in te reo ackowledges New Zealand's indigenous language and creates a valuable resource.

“I think it's an excellent teaching resource for te reo so people can use it in that manner. But at the same time it imparts that information and knowledge to communities about how they might be better prepared. Because there are a number of maraes throughout the country who play a very critical role in providing emergency assistance in communities where there has been a disaster,” Mr Hamilton says.

The site has also been translated into Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Samoan and Tongan.


Maori have been able to take many of their traditional organisational and cultural practices into the world of business.

That's what Rachael Wolfgramm found on the way to earning a doctorate from Auckland University's school of business.

Her thesis was on how Maori are organising themselves to advance their individual and collective aspirations.

Dr Wolfgramm, who is of Te Aupouri, Whakatohea and Tongan whakapapa, says Maori organisations are not single-mindedly focused on business.

Cultural, social, spiritual and economic aspects are also important.

“Not always do you just have a business-centric face to Maori organisations. There are other things going on at the same time. So we’re looking at how ways of doing business are embedded in bigger social and cultural contexts and what facets inhibit moving forward or facilitate that inside of being innovative institutionally,” Dr Wolfgramm says.

A lot of what she saw in Maori business had no parallels in mainstream or international business.


This year's outstanding Maori business leader says Maori are becoming increasingly savvy in their dealings with the international financial sector.

Brett Shepherd from Ngati Maru and Ngati Tamatera received his tohu from Auckland University's business school at a gala dinner last night.

He's been working in the commerce and investment sector for over 20 years, and has headed Deutsche Bank New Zealand since 2002.

He's also helped iwi manage and grow their treaty settlement assets.

Mr Shepherd says now they have consolidated their domestic assets, such iwi are looking offshore for investments.

“As they do that, not only in trade, straight away we find ourselves getting influenced by finance, what kind of loans we can get, what type of capital markets we can access as well as foreign exchange issues that arise, so I think they’re getting more educated and more and more savvy on how to play the game that the rest of their competitors are playing,” Mr Shepherd says.


Social workers from Austria, Finland and India are in the country to look at restorative justice and other innovative programmes.

Werner Hofmann, an Austrian penal mediator, says they're interested in the contributions Maori have made to social work practices like family group conferences.

He says much of what the group has seen is innovative, but concepts like whanau may not be applicable in all cultures.

“I don't know how this would apply for instance in Austria where I’m coming from because we don’t have these indigenous populations and I don’t know what parts of this method could be useful and I’m really curious to find out about this a little bit more when I can maybe watch a family group conference,” Mr Hofmann says.


An increase in the number of Maori getting higher degrees is trickling down through whanau.

Tracey McIntosh, the new co-director of the centre for Maori research excellence, Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, says an ambitious five year target of getting 500 Maori on post-graduate or doctoral degrees has been met.

She says graduation ceremonies now will now include multiple generations from the same family.

“Because of a much more collective orientation, your academic success may affect your cousins, your nieces and nephew. They affect not just the teina but the tuakana as well, and so that we actually see an accelerant effect by one graduate actually draws and entire whanau into academic success,” Dr McIntosh says.

She says the increasing number of Maori graduates is transforming their communities.


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