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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

FOMA fears government interference

A plan to create a Maori development organisation with funds held by the Maori Trustee is ringing alarm bells for the Federation of Maori Authorities.

Paul Morgan, FOMA's executive director, says the government consulted on plans to restructure the Maori Trust Office - but it failed to mention it was planning a grab for $35 million dollars of the trustee's accumulated profits for a new statutory corporation, Maori Business Aotearoa New Zealand.

He says the Maori Trustee, who is a trustee of last resort for uneconomic Maori land, already has considerable powers and freedom to act, but has lacked strategic direction.

The bill now before Parliament indicates officials don't fully understand the role of the trustee, or the needs of Maori business.

“Maoridom now, we don’t need the government to tell us how to manage our affairs and develop. We need to partner up and work with the government of the day. But the decisions for development will lie with Maoridom and no one else,” Mr Morgan says.

He says the Maori Trustee needs to be overseen by an independent board - not one hand picked by the Government, as the bill proposes.

HEALTH HARBOUR SUBJECT OF SCHOLARSHIP

A Northland woman is trying to find out what makes a harbour healthy.

Kura Heke has won a scholarship from the Conservation Department's Nga Whenua Rahui fund to track changes in the Herekino Harbour southwest of kaitaia.

She's taking a break from her teaching job to do the mahi, which involves talking to kuia and koroua about traditional ways of caring for resources, and comparing those with conventional science on erosion and water pollution.

“I do a lot of work in the local school teaching about what sort of plants we can use to stop erosion and we plant the pingao, the native grass that grows on the sand dunes as a buffer between the sea and the land so we grow those seeds and we’re hoping to transplant some next week,” Ms Heke says.

Her research will feed into a management plan for the Owhata Herekino area.

MAORI BUY IN TO VOLUNTEERING MESSAGE

It's International Volunteers Day, and that means it's a chance to celebrate the mahi tens of thousands of Maori do for their communities, their kaumatua and their marae.

Tim Burns, from Volunteering New Zealand, says Maori are more likely to participate in unpaid work than their fellow New Zealanders.

He says the recent Mahi Aroha report found culture was a major driver for Maori.

“That was one of the messages that came out, that one of the reasons for Maori being involved in their contributions to their community is to keep the culture alive and growing,” Mr Burns says.

Statistics New Zealand calculated that Kiwis did 270 million hours of formal, unpaid work for non-profit organisations in 2004, creating more than $3 billion of value.

FARMERS LOOKING CENTURY OUT WITH FONTERRA

Maori dairy farmers are concerned about the long term future of Fonterra.

The giant dairy co-operative is holding hui around the country to talk about introducing outside shareholders.

Roger Pikia, a dairy farmer on the executive of the Federation of Maori Authorities, attended all of Fonterra's consultations with Maori.

He says Maori make up one of the largest shareholder into Fonterra, with people at the various hui responsible for more than 10 million kilogrammes of milk solids.
A well as concerns about returns to farmers, a major talking point was how the new capital structure would affect the company's long term survival.

“Maori dairy farmers have supplied that cooperative for as log it has been in existence and for the capital structure, the potential of becoming a multinational company, the question is will it still be around in another one hundred years,” Mr Pikia says.

A second round of consultation will be held in February, after feedback from the initial round is analysed..

ENROLMENT POLICY COULD FREEZE OUT MAORI

Auckland University's vice chancellor is conceding a new enrolment policy could mean fewer Maori students.

Stuart McCutcheon says the university is looking at how under-represented groups can still gain places in the arts, sciences, education and law courses affected by the proposed change.

He says the effect of the policy on Maori and Pacific communities was discussed at this week's meeting of the university senate.

“We've also agreed to establish a task force that will look at how the university can best ensure that it meets its equity objectives while also dealing with the fact that the government is not now going to fund every student who applies for admission to the university,” Professor McCutcheon says.

Individual faculties within the university are developing their own minority access programmes.

DOCUMENT COULD END UP OVERSEAS

A document marking an early attempt to get the government to address Treaty breaches could end up overseas.

Ngapuhi man David Rankin says the document up for sale by Webb's Auctions in Auckland isn't covered by laws preventing the export of historic taonga.

It's statement written in gold leaf thanking MP Thomas McKenzie for a speech supporting the introduction of the Native Rights Bill in 1894.

The majority of MPs refused to debate the bill, which was drafted by Mr Rankin's tipuna, Hone Heke Ngapua.

The signatures on the document gives it value to Maori even outside Ngapuhi.

“It's got names like Maggie Papakura, Tukino te Heuheu, Tuta Nehoneho, Mangakahia from Ngati Maru, all of those kaumatua, Penitaui, all of those ingoa, those rarangi ingoa on that document are actually sacred names because those are our matua tipuna, rangatira of that time who wanted Maori unity, who wanted to develop a better future for us Maori,” Mr Rankin says.

He wants Te Papa, or some other New Zealand museum to buy the document.

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