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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mahuta, Jones get Cabinet promotion

The new minister of local government will be pushing for more Maori participation.

Nanaia Mahuta picked up full responsibility for the portfolio in today's Cabinet reshuffle, along with the associate tourism role vacated by the departure of Dover Samuels from ministerial ranks.

She says her predecessor Mark Burton has done a huge amount of work which need to be continued, including responding to the inquiry into rates and the just-announced Royal Commission on Auckland governance.

She also wants to address poor turnout in local elections and the low number of Maori and Pacific Island people elected.

“The real issue comes back to Maori people seeing local government as a really important part of their lives and getting involved with the decision-making process. I think we’ve advanced to the point where we can’t just let things happen to us. We’ve got to be part of making a difference to what we want to see,” Ms Mahuta says.

She says the elevation of Shane Jones to ministerial status means there are now a record number of Maori around the Cabinet table.

DRUG RAID POOR JUDGMENT

Women's Refuge has told police a drug raid on a Taupo refuge safehouse last Friday showed poor judgment and was a breach of trust.

Heather Henare, the chief executive of the National Collective of Independent Women's Refuges, says she has discussed the incident at
Te Whare Oranga Wairua with police at national and district level.

She says the police more than anyone should realise refuge deal with extreme and emotionally charged situations, and can be subject to malicious allegations.

“We don't always intervene in the way people want us to. Certainly the women want us to, but the partners are often at conflict with Refuge and do not wish us to, and don’t thank us for the work we do. And so we are at risk from accusations and innuendo,” Ms Henare says.

Police assured Refuge the raid had nothing to do with the presence of Taupo refuge staff at a march in support of activist Tame Iti in Rotorua the previous day.

WARRIORS’ PEACEKEEPING ROLE TOPIC FOR RESEARCH

Once were warriors, but they were peacekeepers too.

That's a project a trustee of the new National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Otago University wants to see some research on.

Maui Solomon says while people may know about the peace traditions of Parikaha and his own Moriori people of the Chatham Islands, other tribes had sophisticated ways of managing conflict.

“Maori were a warrior people but peacekeeping was also very important so I think it would be interesting to explore that side of our culture as well, but not just working with the tangata whenua history of peace – clearly New Zealand does have an international reputation for peacekeeping, its anti nuclear stance, peacekeeping initiatives round the Pacific and around the world,” Mr Solomon says.

He says peace is an aspiration, even if people don't always achieve it.

JONES KNOWN FOR DECISIVE LEADERSHIP

Expect some decisive leadership.

That's the reaction of Maori Council chair Sir Graham Latimer to the elevation of fellow northerner Shane Jones to Cabinet.

Mr Jones has been given responsibility for building and construction, and associate roles in trade, immigration and treaty negotiations.

Sir Graham says the Labour list MP is well prepared for the latter role through his years on Te Ohu Kaimoana, where he successfully resolved years of conflict over how the Maori fisheries settlement should be shared out.

“Making a decision, up until then it was hard to find anyone who would make a decision. While they would hive around the honey, they wouldn’t make a distinct decision. Whereas he’s been in a position where he’s had to do it,” Sir Graham says.

The people of Northland should celebrate having one of their own in Cabinet.

UREWERA FOREST ACCESS BLOCKED OVER LAND CLAIM

Unresolved disputes over land and roading have led to Tuhoe hapu to block access to part of the Urewera Forest.

Ngai Tama Tuhirae says the Waimana Valley Road into the northern part of the forest is closed to tourists, fishers, hunters and trampers until the end of February.

Maui Te Pou, a hapu spokesperson, says part of the road goes across land taken from Omuriwaka marae, after floods in the 1960s washed out an earlier road.

He says the hapu also wants to stop forestry company Rayonier from logging land up the valley.

“According to Rayonier, the land is freehold land, and they’re the owners, and the trees, they own the trees. That’s the issue. And the whanau at Omuriwaka are saying no, as far as they see it, it is still Maori customary land,” Mr Te Pou says.

The action has nothing to do with this month's police terror raid on Ruatoki.

MAORI DUBBING SOFTWARE WINS HOLLYWOOD KUDOS

Software developed to dub cartoons into te reo has won a Maori company recognitions in Hollywood.

Judges in the Hollywood Post Alliance Engineering Excellence Awards created a special award for Kiwa International's VoiceQ system.

Kiwa director Rhonda Kite invented VoiceQ five years ago to dub animation for TV3.

It is now used extensively for cartoons aired on Maori television.

Ms Kite says she was looking for a cheaper and better way of handling translation.

“No one had really been looking at and going, how can we make this more efficient, and how can it improve my business. Because I think people just get stuck in the same way of doing things and every now and then someone comes along and says, I’m sure we can do this a bit smarter,” Ms Kite says.

The award is generating extra work for Kiwa, including a deal with Disney Studios.

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