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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Leaks could taint Urewera 17 trial

A lawyer supporting members of the Urewera 17 says the leaking of surveillance information could have ruined the chance of a fair trial.

The Dominion Post and Christchurch Press yesterday ran extracts from the 156 page affadavit used by the police to get the search and arrest warrants needed for the anti-terror raids on October 15.

They did not identify which of the accused made the statements, or even if they were said by some of the undercover police who infiltrated alleged military style training camps in the Urewera.

David Williams, a professor of law at Auckland University, says because terrorism charges were dropped, there is no way the statements could have been tested in court and alternate explanations or context put up by the defence.

“I just want the public at large to realise how unfair to the process of trial by a court, where the jury can hear all the evidence, rather than trial by the media, where selective juicy bits are put out and then that tars the cases of all the people involved in this, even though they might have had nothing to do with any of those conversations,” Professor Williams says.

He says a commission of inquiry into the police actions is the only way to settle the questions raised by the leak.


One of the architects of the kohanga reo movement says the expertise of kuia and koroua is being overlooked.

Iritana Tawhiwhirangi is attending He Maanaki Nga Kaumatua, a three day hui in Hamilton looking at the needs of older Maori.

She says an important feature of Maori culture is that old people are valued and allowed to participate.

That was one of the inspirations for the Maori immersion pre-schooling, but over the years kaumatua with beautiful reo have been sidelined.

“They've been marginalised because you have thing coming like they have to have qualifications, they have to be teachers, and all this sort of thing, so the compliance coming in from the general society, they mean well those compliances but they don’t fit in a cultural framework,” Mrs Tawhiwhirangi says.

She hopes that the new minister of education, Chris Carter, will find ways to get kaumatua back into kohanga reo.


A Green MP is calling on Maori to boycott wood from Papua New Guinea.

Meteria Turei is just back from PNG where she met with indigenous groups who oppose logging of native timber.

A lot of the wood ends up here in decking or garden furniture.
She says the country's indigenous peoples rely on their forests for sustenance, and Maori should be careful what they buy.

“If we choose not to buy it, then the companies won’t have a market to sell it and they will reduce their logging impact over there so it’s really up to us, particularly Maori, because if we support other indigenous peoples we’ve got to support their way of life and that means for us here is not buying quila,” Ms Turei says.


Health sector high flyer Hayden Wana is switching hats.

He's stepped down as chair of the Taranaki District Health Board to be chief executive of Hauora Taranaki.

He'll keep his other day job heading Tui Ora Maori Development organisation.

Mr Wano, from Te Atiawa, Taranaki, Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Awa, is keen to see the sector from the other side.

“The role as the chairman of the district health board is very much at the governance level so you are tending to fly in the stratosphere whereas my day job involved dealing at a grass roots level so in a sense it’s the other side of the equation. It’s putting into practice the policies the DHB and the health sector is driven by,” Mr Wano says.

During his time the DHB improved its engagement with iwi, which fed into planning and policies.


Maori representative have met with senior ministers to put their case for a fairer climate change emissions trading scheme.

Roger Pikia, the co-chair of the Maori climate change consultative group, says Maori forest owners haven't had the flexibilty to shift to other land uses, so they could be prejudiced by any regime change.

And because a lot of Maori land is still covered with indigenous forest, they're concerned at disparities between the way native and exotic forest is treated.

He says the biggest concern coming from the 26 consultative hui and last weekend's Federation of Maori Authorities hui is what happens to credits from pre-1990 plantings.

“Maori generally subscribe to the intent of the emissions trading scheme, particularly as it applies to sustainability, but I guess it comes back to the architecture and design of the scheme that recognises contribution and allocates any benefits, should there be any, accordingly or equitably,” Mr Pikia says.

Another meeting with ministers is scheduled before the end of the year, and the Maori group is also working with officials.


A Maori team in the next Rugby League World Cup will add depth to the code in this country.

That's the view of Samoan sports commentator Ken Laban.

He says the lack of depth was highlighted by the Kiwis 58-nil loss to the Australians in Wellington last month, and the three zip series loss to Great Britain.

Many former internationals were unavailable, and the shortage of top class replacements was frustratingly obvious.

He says Pacific Island nations who have opposed the inclusion of a separate Maori team should think again.
“New Zealand Maori have worked very hard to get represented and let Maori come into it and let Tongs, Fiji, Samoa and other Pacific Islands look at it in a different way perhaps,” Mr Ken Laban says.

Indications are former Kiwis Tony and Frank Puletua, Reuben Wiki and Nigel Vagana will all turn out for Samoa in the World Cup - but Maori players get no such second chance.


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