Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, October 15, 2007

Innocent explanation for “terror” training

A former soldier invited by Tuhoe health worker Tame Iti to conduct bushcraft training in the Urewera ranges believes the sessions had an innocent purpose.

Mr Iti and at least 13 other people were arrested in a series of police raids around the country conducted under the Suppression of Terrorism Act and the Firearms Act.

Mr Iti appeared in Rotorua District Council this afternoon on firearms charges and was held over for a bail hearing tomorrow.

Radio Waatea host Kingi Taurua was interviewed by police this morning over text messages with Mr Iti concerning the training courses.

Mr Taurua, whose career includes military service in Vietnam and as a guard at Buckingham Palace, 19 years in the Corrections Service and nine years as an advisor to successive ministers of social welfare, says iwi commitments meant he was unable to conduct any training.
But he saw nothing sinister in the proposal.

“I was under the impression that Tame Iti was part and parcel of a Tuhoe health group, a hauora. That he’s going to take these children into the bush to teach them wellbeing and to hunt and that kind of thing,” Mr Taurua says.

He says Tame Iti has always held a consistent view on the mana motuhake or independence of the Tuhoe nation.

BUDGET SURPLUS SET FOR MAINSTREAM

Don't expect a dramatic increase in spending on Maori, despite a $7.9 billion surplus in the government's accounts.

The Minister of Maori Affairs says the surplus is the result of prudent fiscal management and that the government won't be changing its approach anytime soon.

Parekuara Horomia says while he will tono to increase his department's budget, Maori are benefiting from changes made across government.

“Seven or eight adjustments in the minimum wage have certainly been about going to Maori. I know a whole lot of activities in education have been about going to Maori. So that sort of thing, quite simply, a lot of Maori benefit by that,” he says.

He doesn't expect any extra money for treaty settlements, and the focus for his ministry is getting Maori school leavers into better jobs.

SYSTEM LETS DOWN MAORI CANDIDATES

The poor showing of Maori candidates in this month's elections show a new voting system is needed if tangata whenua are to have a voice in local government.

That's the view of political strategist Matt McCarten, who worked on the unsuccessful mayoral campaigns of John Tamihere and Willie Jackson.

He says only three of the 236 people elected in the Auckland region were Maori, despite 10 times that number putting themselves forward.

It's in marked contrast to the number of Maori elected at a national level.

“The advantage with national elections of course is you have Maori seats, and don’t think for a minute that people like Pita and Hone and Tariana and that would have a chance in general seats,” Mr McCarten says.

He says the answer is dedicated Maori wards or seats at local government level.

POLICE HEAVY HANDED IN TUHOE RAIDS

The Maori Party is accusing the police of heavy-handed tactics in its raids in the eastern Bay of Plenty today.

Armed police closed off on Taneatua and Ruatoki this morning and arrested several people, including health worker Tame Iti.

He was charged with firearms offences.

There were other raids and arrests in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington, and Police Commissioner Howard Broad says charges under the Terrorist Suppression Act may also be laid against some of those arrested.

Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell says terrorism is a serious charge, and there could be an innocent explanation for what police allege was military style weapons training.

“Of course if you go up in the Ruatoki Valley you will find guns and you will find some ammunition because a large number of them are going out into the Urewera forest hunting for food to put on the table for their families. There are a number of programmes run in the Ruatoki Valley to rehabilitate kids who have gone off the rocks,” he says.

Mr Flavell says it's extraordinary that only days after Parliament removed the charge of sedition - used notoriously against Tuhoe prophet Rua Kenana in 1916 - the police would use the new Suppression of Terrorism Act to go after another high profile advocate of Tuhoe sovereignty.

TRADE TRAINING REVISITED

It's back to the future for trade training, with a new Youth Apprentices Programme to be trialed in 10 schools next year.

Students will get some work experience and earn credits towards an apprenticeship, while they are still at school.

Trade training used to be a staple of Maori affairs programmes, leading to criticism Maori were being steered away from professional careers.

Nanaia Mahutu, the Minister of youth development, says there's a place for trade skills, and tertiary education isn't the only pathway to a successful career for Maori.

“You can earn quite a high wage as a tradesperson and quite a lot of tradespeople go on to own their own business. What I know is that’s generally the picture for young Maori these days is they want skills that are relevant and ultimately earn a good wage and perhaps own their own business and contributing back to their whanau is a big part of the picture.” Ms Mahuta says.

She expects Maori boys to be among the keenest adopters of the Youth Apprentices Programme.

BREAST SCREEN NEED FOR MAORI WOMEN

High death rates for Maori women from breast cancer could be eliminated if they can be brought into screening programmes.

That's the message Breast Screen Aotearoa is putting out Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Madeline Wall, the clinical director of the national screening programme, says only about 40 percent of eligible Maori women aged between 45 and 69 are being screened.

“Maori women have a slightly increased risk of getting breast cancer but a much greater risk of dying of breast cancer - 60 percent greater than non Maori women. And that we think from our preliminary data can be virtually eliminated if we can encourage more Maori women into breast screening,” she says.

Dr Wall says Breast Screen Aotearoa will target community events and GP referrals to encourage more Maori women to enroll on the screening programme.

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