Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Whale kill economic folly

The head of a Maori owned whale watch company is accusing Japanese whalers of economic recklessness and hypocrisy.

A six ship Japanese fleet is on its way to Antarctica, where it intends to kill 1000 whales, including 50 humpbacks and 50 fin whales.

Kaikoura Whale Watch is investing more than $5 million into a joint venture on Australia's Gold Coast based around the annual humpback migration.

Chairperson Wally Stone says that's a better use of the world's remaining whale stocks.

“A whale that lives 70 years, where you are able to watch every year versus being able to kill once. Clearly it is far more economic and far more valuable alive than dead,” he says.

Mr Stone says it's the height of hypocrisy to travel halfway round the world to kill whales in a sanctuary under the guise of scientific research.


Waikato University wants its region's name pronounced correctly.

Linda Smith, the university's new pro-vice chancellor Maori, is encouraging university staff and the wider community to say Waikato "Why-Cut- Or" ... and not "Why-Cat-Oh" or "Why- Kado".

Tom Roa, a senior Maori studies lecturer, says rather than being lazy, people have become accustomed to saying the word wrongly.

He says people should respect the heritage of the language.

“For hundreds of years the pronunciation of Waikato has been Waikato. In the last 100 years, it’s clear that it has been changed. Those of us of Waikato invite people to use it well and to pronounce it properly,” Mr Roa says.

More than two thirds of respondents to a Waikato newspaper poll said the language initiative was politically correct claptrap, and they'll stick with "Why Cat Oh"


19th century settler views on Maori have been rescued from dusty bookcases and put online.

Thirty classic novels of Maoriland have been put up by the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, a free archive of New Zealand and Pacific Island texts and heritage materials.

Jane Stafford, an associate professor of literature at Victoria University, says the books include observations on settler life, bush clearing, goldfields, sea life, and women's sufferage.

She says readers and writers of the time were fascinated by the Maori world, and the books take a fanciful and romantic view of Maori history.

“They're a sort of a view of Maori society and the Maori past that sort of suits the settler purposes, so it often is ‘the past’ where Maori exist, and it’s a way in fact of moving them out of the present I think, so you’re saying these are incredibly admirable and interesting and so on and we’re fascinated with them, but they’re not part of modern New Zealand, they’re part of the past,” Dr Stafford says.


The largest group yet of koiwi came home from overseas today.

The 46 tupuna have spent decades in museums throughout Great Britain.

Herekiekie Herewini, the head of repatriation at Te Papa Tongarewa, says museums in that country are now more willing to return human remains - unlike in France, where authorities fear returning preserved heads and other body parts will lead to requests for other sorts of taonga.

He says today's repatriation took three years of complicated negotiations.

“It's our largest repatriation of tupuna from overseas since the programme was established in 2003, but in future we’re hoping for the return of a number of our ancestors that will be equal to this number or even bigger, Mr Herewini says.

Over the next six months Te Papa will attempt to identify the remains and return them to their tribal whenua.


Expect more flexibility in National's attitude toward the Maori Party.

Rawiri Taonui, head of Maori and indigenous studies at Canterbury University, says its growing strength in all the Maori electorates means the Maori Party could hold the balance of power after the next election.

He says that will mean National might need to swallow some of its reservations about the party's positions.

“We could find them prepared to negotiate and with much greater flexibility than we probably appreciate because if John Key is in a position to be government and he needs the Maori Party, he is going to have to get them on board,” Mr Taonui says.

Relations between the two parties have gone off the boil since National refused to back Tariana Turia's bill to repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act.


The Green's Maori Affairs spokesperson says Kaikoura Whale Watch is providing a powerful role model for indigenous groups in countries throughout the Pacific.

The Ngai Tahu owned company is taking its expertise and technology to Queensland's Gold Coast, where it is setting up a joint venture based around the annual migration of humpback whales.

Meteria Turei says its positive and sustainable use of the resource is in stark contrast to the Japanese whaling fleet, which set off this week for its annual slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean sanctuary.

“I think it's a really good thing that they’re doing, that Ngai Tahu is branching out in this way. It’s spreading this whole idea across the Pacific that whale watching is the way to make money out of whales, as opposed to slaughtering them,” Ms Turei says.


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