Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Police over-reaction feared

The MP for Waiariki says the police may be misinterpreting legitimate dissent by his constituents.

Armed police sealed off Taneatua yesterday to arrest Tuhoe activist Tame Iti.

Thirteen other people, including peace and environmental activists, were arrested in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, and jointly charged with Mr Iti under the Firearms Act.

Te Ururoa Flavell says the Taneatua raid was hugely distressing for the Tuhoe community. - particulaly the way armed police set up a road block on the Raupatu Line, which marks where Tuhoe land was confiscated in the 1860s.

He says Maori Party warning the Terrorism Suppression Act could be used to stifle legitimate dissent could be borne out by yesterday's raids, which were conducted under the Act.

“If we have people who may be passionate about environmental issues, passionate about the notion of a Tuhoe tribal nation, you know, these are things that have been round with us for a while and take and armed offenders squad and pull out 14 people around the country and have them all associated with the Urewera National Park, as we look at it from a distance, I think it’s pretty much over the top action,” Mr Flavell says.

A bail hearing for Mr iti will be held in Rotorua this afternoon.

CHURCH ATTITUDE CHALLENGED

The Maori Anglican Church has been challenged to review its attitudes towards homosexuality.

The church held a hui at Waiwhetu marae in Lower Hutt to discuss sexuality and transgender issues, as part of a wider discussion in the church on the issue.

Prominent members of the gay and transexual communities as well as the Human Rights Commission and the Aids Foundation took part.

Writer Anton Blank from Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu says church and culture can come into conflict over issues of sexuality.

“It's all about whanau, so if you say homosexuality is wrong, you’re talking about a lot of your own family, so people need to think about if you are carrying those beliefs, what am I saying about my own. I’m actually not speaking about other people, I’m talking about myself and my family,” Mr Blank says.

BREAST SCREEN PROGRAMME REACHING OUT

Breast Screen Aotearoa is trying to find new ways to reach the thousands of Maori women who are being missed by a free national screening programme.

Madeline Wall, the programme's clinical director, says 11 mainly iwi service providers have contracts to screen women in rural areas.

It's also stepping up health promotion activities at community events and trying to get referrals from GPs.

She says only about 40 percent of eligible Maori women are being screened, increasing their risk of dying if they do get cancer.

“Maori women who were screened by Breast Screen Aotearoa in the first few years are over 50 percent less likely to die of breast cancer than Maori women who don’t screen. So that’s really good news,” Dr Wall says.

Maori women with breast cancer have a 60 percent greater chance of dying of breast cancer than non-Maori.

TUHOE COMMUNITY FEELS THREATENED

A lawyer who has acted for Tuhoe treaty claimants says yesterday's Bay of Plenty terrorism sweep says the whole Tuhoe community feels under attack ... again.

Jason Pou says the arrest of Tame Iti on arms charges seems a repeat of the case against the Tuhoe activist over a dramatic powhiri for the Waitangi Tribunal in Ruatoki - which was aimed at conveying the feelings the iwi had when they were invaded by armed constabulary.

That case was eventually thrown out by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Pou, who is acting for another one of the 14 people arrested yesterday, says the dawn raid on Mr Iti's home at Ruatoki was extended to a lock-down on the whole valley, with residents finding their movements inhibited.

“They've found it difficult to leave, they’ve been photographed as they left, they felt persecuted, and basically everyone in the Ruatoki Valley has been treated as if they are actually guilty when no charges have actually been laid,” Mr Pou says.

SURPLUSE NEEDED FOR MAORI DISPARITY

The Maori Party wants some of the $7.9 billion dollar budget surplus targeted to Maori priorities.

Co-leader Tariana Turia says those priorities could include turning around poor educational performance of Maori boys, improving health delivery and upgrading the quality of state houses.

She says the Minister of Maori Affairs, Parekura Horomia, continues with the failed policy of mainstreaming services to Maori, instead of building on the positive work done by Maori providers.

“This is a Minister who over the years has got very little funding. His money has gone back into mainstream budgets, so what he does is he’s hanging on the coat tails of other ministers, always having to argue with them about how they are spending their money to ensure Maori people are getting access,” Mrs Turia says.

She says some of the surplus should be spend extending assistance to low income children who don't qualify the under Working For Families scheme.

EARLY INTERVENTION FOR MENTAL ILLNESS

A Rotorua public health organisation hopes a new early intervention programme will help Maori with mental illnesses before their condition spirals out of control.

Under a two year national pilot, people with mild depression or anxiety can get free counseling and GP visits.

Eugene Berryman-Kamp from Health Rotorua says it should ease the pressure on mental health services, where the cost of counselling and treatment is high.

He says as more than half of mental health patients in Rotorua are Maori, they should see the greatest impact.

“Access to primary preventative mental health care may help prevent the issue developing into a more serious or more severe condition that is of course harder to treat and has a much higher impact on the individual and the whanau,” Mr Berryman-Kamp says.

Health Rotorua is looking at incorporating traditional Maori healing methods into the service to make it culturally appropriate.

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