Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Govt should butt out of Maori development

The Federation of Maori Authorities says the government should stop interfering in Maori development.

Spokesperson Paul Morgan says the Government's plans to separate the Maori Trust Office from Te Puni Kokiri could be a positive move - but only if the Maori Trustee is made truly independent from Government and accountable to Maori.

The Maori Trustee manages 100,000 hectares of Maori land and is holding almost $40 million on behalf of owners, as well as $60 million in accumulated profits.

Mr Morgan says Maori asset managers need to work together so they can benefit from greater scale and access to markets.

“The Maori Trustee can play a part in that role, but it won’t do it as an individual. It will need to have access and direction form a really experienced commercial board. The government and the officials won’t want that because they like tinkering and interfering, but it’s time we told them straight, butt out of our economic development future, leave that in competent Maori hands,” Mr Morgan says.

He says the Maori Trustee has some valuable statutory powers which could benefit Maori, but he has refused to use them.


A Northland teacher has found positive peer pressure can boost Maori achievement at school.

Rawiri McKinney, the deputy principal at Opononi Area School, was awarded a Masters of Education with first class honours from Auckland University for his thesis on academic success.

Rather than look at why students fail, he looked at why a group of Maori seventh formers was succeeding.

He says they all had strong taha Maori, links with their marae, and good mentors.

“Bar one they had good links with grandparents, really good relationships. They had a good camaraderie between them and I think that was probably a positive drive was that together the peer pressure was positive. When we hear of peer pressure, we think of drugs and alcohol and hanging out at night, but this peer pressure was actually really really positive and they drove each other,” Mr McKinney says.

Hehopes his work will inspire other researchers to look at the positives rather than the negatives of Maori schooling.


Sales of Maori art in the lucrative North American market are picking up.

Nigel Reading, the curator of Maori work at Vancouver's Spirit Wrestler Gallery, has been representing artists like Rangi Kipa, Manos Nathan and Darcy Nicholas for eight years.

He says customers are now comfortable enough to make significant purchases.

“You have to build confidence. You have to educate your audience and build their knowledge base by slowly introducing the art form, and initially sales were minimal, but it takes time and we have built that market and it is now starting to pay off,” Mr Reading says.

There is keen interest in the current exhibition of collaborative pieces by jade carver Lewis Gardiner from Te Arawa, Ngati Awa and Ngai Tau and Tlingit glass artist Preston Singletary, with more than 75 percent of the work sold so far.


The new Minister of Treaty Negotiations is signaling changes to the way his department will engage with claimants.

The Office of Treaty Settlements came under fire from the Waitangi Tribunal earlier this year for entering direct negotiations without protecting the interests of overlapping claimants.

As a result agreements in principle in Auckland and Rotorua are unraveling, forcing the government to attempt a comprehensive settlement for the central North Island forests.

Michael Cullen says the government needs to avoid cross claims late in the negotiation process.

“And that will probably mean therefore processes involving the range of cross claimants early on where there’s a specific claim under negotiation, brining the other cross claimants in for a broad discussion and perhaps referring back to them on occasions to try and make sure we don’t get derailed later on,” Dr Cullen says.

Other major negotiations at the top of his agenda are the Port Nicholson Claim for the Wellington area and Waikato-Tainui's river claim.


A former supervisor at Ngati Hine Health Trust's residential care homes has pleaded guilty to 167 charges of theft.

Hana Pukeroa will be sentenced in February, once a reparation report is completed.

Ngati Hine spokesperson Mike Kake says an internal audit picked up that Pukeroa had diverted more than $60,000 dollars in residents' social welfare benefits into her own account.

He says the Whangarei-based trust has taken action to ensure it won't happen again.

“We've just tightened up our whole processes internally. There are now probably a lot more checks and balances in place. This thing with this is it was an internal audit of Health Trust processes that identified this criminal action,” Mr Kake says.

He says all the residents will be reimbursed their losses in full, regardless of Pukeroa's plans for reparation.


Otago University researchers have confirmed a painful truth for many whanau - that Maori are genetically pre-disposed to gout.

Anthropologist Hallie Buckley has been studying 3000-year-old skeletons found in Vanuatu.

She says damage to the joints indicates the tupuna probably had gout, a painful form of arthritis,

Their descendants continued across the Pacific, carrying with them the tendency to build up uric acid in the joints.

Dr Buckley says her findings, published in the latest issue of Current Anthropology, could help lift the stigma of gout.

“There does seem to be a perception in New Zealand that it’s purely related to lifestyle factors and the possibility that a genetic predisposition may be causing this high prevalence is very important for actually understanding the mechanisms of it,” Dr Buckley says.

She says many Maori don't report the symptoms of gout early enough because they don't want to admit they have the disease.


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