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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, November 05, 2007

Terror threat to refuge

Women's Refuge is concerned the Terrorism Supression Act could affect its operations.

The act and last month's anti-terror arrests will be up for discussion at the annual hui of the National Collective of Independent Women's Refuges, which started in Wellington today.

A Taupo safehouse for Maori women was raided on a drugs warrant a day after Taupo refuge workers attended a march in Rotorua in support of Tuhoe activist Tame Iti.

Police say there was no connection between the two events.

But Heather Henare, the national collective's chief executive, says the incident made many in refuge feel vulnerable.

“There is a degree of fear out there around the terrorism bill and what that actually means to the likes of refuge workers or any worker that is actively involved in activism on behalf of the oppressed,” she says.

The hui will also consider a new Maori co-strategy developed by the collective's Maori development unit.

MAHINGA KAI RELEVANCE SOUGHT

An Otago scientist wants to know how much use today's Maori make of traditional food gathering sites.

Gail Tipa has been awarded a $10,000 Te Tipu Putaiao Fellowship to investigate mahinga kai.

She will be working closely with Ngai Tahu, which has made the identification and use of traditional resources an important part of its tribal identity.

By identifying contemporary practices, her research could help regional and district authorities plan better for mahinga kai.

“A lot of the information we give in resource consent hearings or in environmental forums, we base it on historical information that we know. But if someone challenged us, said how many people are you talking about, is it 50 or 5000, we just don't know,” Dr Tipa says.

She will also look at barriers Maori face when they try to clean up or restock mahinga kai.

INDUSTRY BLUEPRINT FROM CONCERT

Maori musicians need to work together to build an industry.

Ngahiwi Apanui says the success of Friday’s Pao Pao Pao concert in Wellington shows the depth of talent in the contemporary Maori music.

He says while headliners Whirimako Black and Moana have shown it is possible to make commercially successful Maori music in New Zealand, they have also found the international market can be more receptive to their sounds.

That makes it hard to build up momentum locally.

“Part of the blame really rests with the musicians, because we haven’t organized ourselves very well. People talk about the Maori music industry. Well, to have an industry, you’ve got to have more than three products a year. And really that’s down to us getting together and pooling our resources and using them for the betterment of everybody,” Mr Apanui says.

SILENCE OF THE MPS IRKS TUHOE

A Tuhoe spokesperson has lashed out at the silence of politicians over attacks on the civil rights of iwi members.

Tamati Kruger, an historian and Ruatoki community leader, says the quasi-military police lockdown of the eastern Bay of Plenty community three weeks was blatantly illegal.

He says while the police have had three weeks to fish for evidence to back their alarmist allegations of terrorism, Labour's Maori MPs have abandoned their Tuhoe constituents.

“It is really an inadequate response from Maori politicians to say let’s wait. Because while we’re waiting, there continues to be injustice, there continues to be breaches of civil rights. It’s not a good Maori response for one Maori to say to another, ‘we something extraordinary happening here, an event, let's wait,’” Mr Kruger says.

What Tuhoe is calling Black Monday injured relations between the iwi and the government, and injured race relations.

TERROR RAIDS MISUSE OF POWER

Meanwhile, a veteran protestor says the crack-down on activists is a massive misuse of state power.

John Minto says three weeks after the arrests of people alleged to have taken part in terrorism training camps in the Urewera, police continue to visit people active in Maori rights, environment, peace and union issues.

He says it shows a disdain for privacy and civil rights and is a waste of police resources.

“For the last few weeks we’ve had young activists, particularly Maori activists, who’ve been visited by the police. These are aside from the ones who’ve been arrested. Police turn up with a telephone book size file of every phone call they’ve made in the past year, every text message they’ve sent, every email they’ve sent, all transcribed, and then they’re asked questions about these various people they’re communicating with,” Mr Minto says.

He says the police activities seem designed to justify the big budget increases the Security Intelligence Service and the police anti-terrorism section have received since 2001.

MAORI TEENAGE MOTHERS AT RISK

A new report has found Maori teenage mothers are most at risk of their babies dying.

The Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee looked at factors involved in the deaths of babies up to four weeks old and foetuses after 20 weeks.

The review head, Cynthia Farquhar says each year about 600 babies die before or during or soon after birth.

She says Maori teenagers need greater supervision during pregnancy because of their high risk.

“They're more at risk because they tend to be smokers, they may not have as much midwifery care as they need, they tend to go into pre-term labour more frequently, Tehre are some other explanations about access to services and how comfortable they are with services that are provided,” Professor Farquhar says.

There is a clear need for more Maori midwives, especially in rural and provincial areas.

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