Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

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Police iwi liaison officers are scrambling to mend their image after this week's terrorism raids.

Four officers including Wally Haumaha, the national manager for Maori, Pacific and ethnic services, fronted up to Tuhoe elders in Ruatoki yesterday to explain Monday's lock down of the eastern Bay of Plenty community, following the arrest of health worker Tame Iti and two others.

Inspector Haumaha says he wanted to assure the people the action wasn't directed against Tuhoe itself.

He says Maori police are coming under a lot of flak, and a decade of hard work has been forgotten.

“Some of the important work where we’ve got close to our people and done some significant work that they will always remember those officers for, and to judge and call our officers Uncle Tom, which I haven’t heard probably from the (1981) Springbok Tour and a couple of years following that, I find it sad that they judge a group of officers who are doing their utmost best for the people,” Inspector Haumaha says.

One of the tasks he was given was to ring Maori leaders around the country to explain the police position that Maori weren't being deliberately targeted in the operation.


Meanwhile, Labour's Nanaia Mahuta says Maori want more answers from the police about their tactics during the raid on Ruatoki.

The Tainui MP says the setting up of barricades on what is known as the Confiscation Line has caused a huge amount of concern.

She says a lot will depend on how they make their case.

“The police are there to keep us all from harm. They’ve got to have a pretty tough case if they start going into communities and acting in such a way. The courts will be the final judge of that, and no doubt arguments will be put up by both sides, but what we’ve got to remember as general citizens is we need to have people acting lawfully in our country,” Ms Mahuta says.


Researchers at Otago University want to find out how Maori and other New Zealanders use their local rivers.

Shane Galloway, a Physical Education lecturer, says an online survey to be conducted over the next month should help build a picture of the nation's rivers.

He says while there is a lot of data on commercial and government activity, the scope of recreational use, especially by Maori, is unknown.

“This type of study has been done a great deal, mainly in North America, but also in New Zealand and Australia, looking at a particular ac titiy on a single river. Because of the size of New Zealand and its existence as an island it’s relatively easier to get a look at what a national picture would be, so it’s the first of its kind in that way,” Dr Galloway says.

The survey is online at www.riversurvey.otago.ac.nz .


There's a call to reintroduce a universal child benefit.

Janfrie Wakim, the director of the Child Poverty Action Group, says as it's International Anti-Poverty Day, it's a good time to reflect on the widening gap between rich and poor in this country.

She says tax-based initiatives such as the Working for Families package disadvantages children whose parents are not working, and are a less effective backstop for families than the family benefit, which was scrapped 20 years ago.

People should be concerned at the growing numbers forced to live in poverty.

“It is an issue that affects Maori and Pacific families disproportionately, there’s no doubt about it, but half of the children in poverty are not Maori or Pacific children, so it is something that affects all of society,” Ms Wakim says.

As children don't choose the circumstances they're raised in, they shouldn't be punished financially.


Tame Iti's son says his father's personality would make him more of a liability to a terrorist group than an asset.

The Tuhoe health worker and veteran protester was again denied bail when he appeared in the Rotorua District Court today, and police filed a further three arms charges against him.

Since his arrest on Monday as part of a nationwide sweep, lurid allegations have emerged that Mr Iti was training an IRA-style paramilitary group to make war on New Zealand.

Toi Iti says the stories are ridiculous.

“Hey it's not his style. He’s not the sort of person to go and blow up innocent children inside malls or start assassinating people. It’s just not he style. He doesn’t do that. He’s a 55-year-old man with diabetes,” he says.

Toi Iti says his father's only crime is advocating justice.


Meanwhile, another one of Tame Iti's sons is making his own kind of revolution.

Wairere Iti is a percussionist and vocalist with 13 member Auckland band Batucada Sound Machine, which has just released its first studio album, Rhythm and Rhyme.

He says the band grew out of sessions at an Auckland bar jamming on Brazillian rhythms, and over time it has added a horn section and DJs to create a fusion of influences and cultures from samba and reggae to Maori music.

“Because we come from New Zealand we’re fusing a lot of the cultures together. We’ve got people from Peru, from Brazil, from New Zealand, there’s a real fusion of cultures, and that comes out in the music. One of the songs, Ashay, talks about the Brazilian god of the sea and we sort of fuse that with the Maori gods of the sea.” Mr Iti says.


West Auckland's Kura Kaupapa Maori o Hoani Waititi has taken the top prize in the national primary schools' kapa haka competiton.

There were two second place getters - Huntly's Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga, and Te Kura o Mokoia from Rotorua.

19 teams made it through the regional play-offs to compete at the Manukau events centre.

Tokomaru Bay was selected to host the 2009 contents.


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