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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Terror trial nixed

The Solicitor General's refusal to let the police charge 12 members of the Urewera 17 under the Terrorism Act opens to the way for debate on the Act and the place of dissent in New Zealand society.

That’s the view of Auckland University law professor David Williams, a treaty specialist who has in the past represented Maori land protesters.

The solicitor general, David Collins QC, said charges under the Arms Act against those arrested last month can go ahead, but there is not enough evidence to establish a group was preparing a terrorist act.

He defended the police, saying they had put an end to disturbing activities.

Professor Williams says New Zealand should be a place for robust political debate, without the fear of arrest.

“This idea that the police should be dealing with disturbing activities does sound a little bit like a view that the police are engaged in keeping an eye on people described as dissenters. That is extremely unfortunate, certainly seems to be what’s happened, and this decision by the solicitor general means there can be some more debate about this,” Professor Williams says.

Parliament should take the Solicitor General's advice and refer the Terrorism Act to the Law Commission for review.


Counties Manukau Health is looking at integrating its mental health and alcohol and drug services.

Project manager Tuhakia Keepa, who spoke on Maori mental health to this week's Cutting Edge Addiction Conference, says it could make a difference for clients with multiple disorders.

Up to 80 percent of those seen by mental health services also have substance abuse problems, but under the existing system those must be treated separately.

Integrated assessment and unified case management from one provider is better for clients.

“In terms of working with Maori people, these types of integrated approaches tend to lean towards whanau ora approaches from the perspective that you see a wider range of a person’s issues and you tend to treat a person as a whole rather than separate compartments of disorders,” Mr Keepa says.

When people front up to a service, they expect it should be able to address most of their health needs.


Maori musicians hope exposure at a Spanish music fair will open the door to lucrative international sales.

Neil Cruikshank from Maorimusic.com took samples from musicians like Ruia Aperahama and Adam Whauwhau to Womex, the annual world music trade fair in Seville last month.

Womex attracts about 4000 delegates pitching their music to record labels, media and booking agents.

He says it's the best trade fair for kaupapa Maori musicians.

“There are other industry trade fairs, but a lot of them are more focused on mainstream pop, rock or hip hop, predominantly in English,” Mr Cruikshank says.

He got good feedback, and negotiations on licensing deals are continuing.


A leading Maori health strategist says changes outside the health sector will improve Maori health outcomes.

Mason Durie, the professor of Maori research at Massey University, was a keynote speaker at this week's Australasian addiction conference in Auckland.

He says problems like addiction and diabetes emerge because of things happening in society, and the health sector gets left to clean up.

The aim must be to prevent problems emerging.

“The prevention will come about when we have much better achievement at schools, when we have employment that offers young Maori and also older Maori opportunities to get into worthwhile careers that are interesting and are going somewhere and when we have whanau that are able to transmit values,” Professor Durie says.

He says the Maori health sector is now large enough to start tackling some problems at source.


His party may be trying to block treaty references in legislation, but Winston Peters has no problem with schools teaching children both the English and Maori version of the national anthem.

The New Zealand First leader wants all schools to begin the day with singing of God Defend New Zealand.

He says while some adults struggle with the tune and lyrics, children can easily learn both sets of lyrics.

“The fact is they’ll learn it with the greatest of ease. I can recall in my early days at school we were learning foreign language songs and children have no difficulty learning that, they have difficultly when they get older because they don’t have the mental flexibility,” Mr Peters says.

New Zealand First's Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi deletion bill was thrown out of Parliament during its second reading debate last night.


From Muriwhenua to Murihiku, it's a big day spiritually for the Ratana Church.

Nga Morehu, the church followers, remember November the eighth as the day in 1918 when founder Tahupotiki Ratana saw a vision of the Holy Spirit.

Church spokesperson Ruia Apirahama says that revelation marked the start of Ratana's mission to give hope to Maori at a time of despair because of the loss of land, traditions and mana.

“This was the turning point for Ratana in his life and his calling and his mission and at that time in 1918 the total population of our people had been reduced to less than 45,000 so Ratana’s rise came at a particularly challenging time for our people,” Mr Apirahama says.


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