Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, October 01, 2007

Under the radar in land of Oz

Maori in Australia need to look more to the Government there for assistance.

That's the view of the author of a major study on Maori living across the Tasman.

Paul Hamer, a Te Puni Kokiri policy analyst, says more than 100,000 Maori have hopped the ditch in search of a different lifestyle and better material opportunities.

He says they tend to fly under the radar of Australian authorities because they speak English and have high workforce participation, so they don't get the sort of support the government there gives other new migrant groups.

“They arrive there and they’re in a country where they’re in an enormous melting pot and it’s really up to them, and often they don’t go seeking from the Australian government what they’re entitled to either. They don’t know how or they think they’re displaced New Zealanders and they continue to look to the government in New Zealand,” Mr Hamer says.

Maori in Australia are keen to keep their culture alive, and appreciate help in that from this side of the Tasman.


The Deaf Foundation wants to see more interpreters who can translate te reo Maori into sign language.

Board member Nigel Murphy says there are only two interpreters who can sign in Maori.

That's despite the fact 30 percent of the deaf community are Maori, and Maori children under 19 make up almost half of deafness notifications.

He says translation can make content more widely accessible for the deaf.

“We need more Maori who can speak te reo to train as sign language interpreters. I mean sign language is the third official language of New Zealand, and we applaud initiatives in the Maori community like Maori TV. They have the only tri-lingual show, a gardening show called Kiwi Mara,” Mr Murphy says.

The high rate of Maori deafness seems to be a combination of genetics, health and socioeconomic factors, such as an unacceptably high rate of glue ear which goes untreated.


Patricia Grace has won what's considered the most prestigious international prize after the Nobel Prize in Literature.

A jury from 10 countries has awarded the Plimmerton-based writer the US$50,000 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which is administered by the University of Oklahoma.

Mrs Grace, from Ngati Toa, Te Atiawa and Raukawa, is the first indigenous writer to win the biannual award and only the fourth woman to win it.

She says her ideas comes from her family and the things that happen around her, as well as the inspiration of earlier writers.

“There were some pioneers of writing by Maori writing in English who didn’t get books published in the early days, like Arapera Blank and Jacqui Sturm and I think particularly Hone Tuwhare who did have a book out in the early days. I think his may have been the first by a Maori writer in English, and he was an inspiration to us all,” Mrs Grace says.

She was nominated from the Neustadt Prize by Native American writer and performer Joy Harjo, who described her writing as a weave of Maori oral storytelling in contemporary Western literary forms.


A campaigner for the return of Paraparaumu airport land to customary Maori owners is comparing a former National cabinet minister with Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe.

Te Whanau a Te Ngarara is trying to unwind then-transport minister Maurice Williamson's 1995 decision to sell the airport without first offering it back to previous owners.

The land was taken under the Public Works Act during World War Two.

Peter Love, a spokesperson for the whanau, says people who condemn Zimbabwe's confiscation of white-owned farms should find similar outrage for what happened at Paraparaumu.

“Robert Mugabe's a nice guy alongside Williamson, who actually signed off on this thing. I mean Maurice Williamson took the land, got the land, and then actually had the audacious nerve to sell it, and instead of offering it back or even offering us to consider buying it or anything else, he pushed us out of the way, sold it, and put the money in the bank,” Mr Love says.

Unless there is some action soon on their claim, Paraparaumu Maori could occupy the tarmac.


Associate minister Dover Samuels is defending the Government's hand-picked nominees to represent Maori on a climate change consultative group.

National organisations like the Maori Council and the Federation of Maori Authorities were bypassed to install Ngati Porou chair Api Mahuika and Tuwharetoa member Timi Te Heuheu on the 31 member group, which is chaired by The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall.

The selection process has been challenged by Maori Council member Maanu Paul, who says it marginalises Maori.

But Mr Samuels says the government wants the best people for the job.

“Climate change is a complex issue and I have utter faith in Api and Timi actually representing the views of modern Maori,” Mr Samuels says.

He says the Maori Council is a dinosaur which should acknowledge it has become extinct.


Today is World Hepatitis Awareness Day, and the Hepatitis Foundation is encouraging Maori to get tested for the disease.

Its chief executive says a disproportionate number of Maori are carriers of Hepatitis B.

John Hornell says despite the fact a vaccine has been available for 20 years, three percent of Maori under 15 carry the disease, which is high in world terms.

He says extended family living could be a factor.

“Hepatitis B is a very easy virus to spread on. It’s spread by daily contact, by bodily fluids. It’s predominantly spread by blood to blood contact, and when people live in close proximity, you have a much higher prevalence,” Mr Hornell says.

Maori aged between 25 to 45 are at most risk and should have blood tests regularly.


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