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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Think Big at Waitangi Treaty grounds

The Waitangi National Trust has unveiled ambitious plans for a $15 million visitors' centre at the nation's birthplace.

The project manager, Larry Jacobson, says the trust expects to lodge its resource consent application this month.

The complex will sit on to the north of the treaty House and Whare Runanga, where the land slopes away to the sea.

It will include ticketing facilities and toilets, a cafe and two theatres.

He says it isn't designed to take attention away from the historic precinct where the treaty was signed in 1840.

“It's a low profile building that hugs the land, fits into the landscape, so it’s not meant to be visually significant. The idea is it’s meant to be a part of the land. The design sees a lot of planting round it and in fact trees growing into the building virtually and a stream running through the middle of the building,” Mr Jacobson says.

He says the existing centre can't cope with the 200 thousand visitors coming through the treaty grounds each year.

The Government is opposed to the plan, because it is concerned the trust is taking on a large commercial burden which puts the nation's heritage at risk.


A Te Aupouri kaumatua says the Government is jumping the gun in trying to push through a settlement with the far north tribe.

The Office of Treaty Settlements is consulting with neighbouring iwi on what will be in its $12 million remedies package, including areas such as te Paki Station, Te Rerenga Wairua and Spirits Bay.

But Kingi Ihaka, the chair of a group representing Te Aupouri members living in Auckland, says the tribe's supposed negotiators don't have a mandate and haven't been transparent about the talks.

He says by only talking to people in the ahi kaa or home area, the Crown has avoided facing Te Aupouri's more skilled and able members.

“Generally speaking ahi kaa have limited understanding of the politics involved and who to speak to, how to speak to them, and it has to be robust. Traditionally my people have sort of a sat back and taken a sense of humility rather than one of robustness,” Mr Ihaka says.

The negotiations should start again with a properly elected and mandated panel.


A Hawkes Bay mayor believes compensation awarded to Maori landowners for an unauthorised water system sets a dangerous precedent.

In 1976 the predecessor to Central Hawkes Bay Council put two tanks and three 800-metre pipes across two multiply-owned blocks at Porangahau, to supply a beach settlement.

Landowner Helen McGregor went to the Maori Land Court for back rent, and won $20,000 plus an order the now obsolete tanks and pipes be removed.

Mayor Tim Gilbertson says the claim was absurd and flew in face of community spirit.

“Thirty years ago things were done on a handshake, it worked really well, and the community now has to find $20,000 to pay the landowners for something we think is worth $1200 at most. But that’s the law and so the law must be observed,” he says.

Mr Gilbertson says the ruling means anyone who has given anything for a community use could come back and demand back rent.


Whakatane's Ngati Awa has become the first Maori tribe to sign a treaty recognising the right to indigenous peoples to govern themselves.

Jeremy Gardiner, the chief executive of the Ngati Awa Runanga, says the United League of Indigenous Nations Treaty was developed in Washington DC in August as a response to the wrangling over the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It has been signed by first nations peoples from the four countries which voted against the declaration - New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States.

He says it seeks to spell out their rights... and build relationships between their communities.

“The first stated purpose of the treaty is to establish the bonds between indigenous nations to undertake political, social, cultural and economic development, protection and recovery of homelands, and general well being, so its core purpose is that close relationship, nation building and supporting other indigenous nations,” Mr Gardiner says.

The Treaty will be brought to New Zealand in November for signing by the tribes of the Maataatua Assembly and other tribes.


A Northland MP fears a proposed 15 million dollar visitors' centre at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds could put the nation's birthplace at risk.

The Waitangi National Trust is about to seek resource consent to build the complex, which includes a cafe, restaurant and 200-seat theatre.

It will sit north of the Treaty House and Whare Runanga, on the slope down to the sea.

Shane Jones says the independent trust which controls the treaty grounds is wrong to head off in a commercial direction which will impose high ongoing maintenance costs.

“Now the cash flow can only come from one of two places. The current entrance fee, which in my view should not exist, and the ongoing commercial fees associated with people wanting to use the facility. And as time progresses you’ll find the place that’s supposed to be known as Waitangi, the heart of the nation will come to be known as Waitangi, the commercial cost centre of the nation,” he says.

Mr Jones says the think big project is clear evidence the governance structure of the Treaty Grounds is flawed and needs to be overhauled.


A Wellsford teenager is running programmes for children affected by violence because he doesn't want kids to go through what he has been through.

Wiremu Te Mapihi-Livingstone will be a keynote speaker at New Zealand's first national hui of child advocates in Hamilton today.

The 15-year-old is a whanau support worker for Te Korowai Aroha O Ngati Whatua.

“I've been there and done that and experienced violence, and I didn’t like it one bit, so I’m doing this because I know what it feels like and I don’t want the younger generations of these days to go through the same thing,” he says.

Wiremu Te Mapihi-Livingstone and his grandmother, Adell Dick, developed and run a programme called Atawhaingia Te Pa Harakeke, or Nurture the Family of Flax, which tries to impart the traditional values which underlie non-violent child rearing.


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10:40 AM  

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