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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nga Tamatoa reunion call

The time is right for a reunion of the young warriors.

Pita Sharples, the co-leader of the Maori Party, says 1970s Maori student protest group Nga Tamatoa paved the way for many of the advances Maori have made.

He says its principled stands and clear focus were an inspiration for those who have come after.

“You can't underrate, undervalue the job Nga Tamatoa did and the effect they had. There they were, just a group of students, taking every opportunity to oppose actually the worst aspects of colonization: the suppression of Maori language, the ridicule of customs out front and all that kind of stuff, and they made the stand that woke people up,” Dr Sharples says.

He says a forum involving original members of Nga Tamatoa and their descendants could be valuable in helping set priorities for the Maori Party.


A Tauranga-based Maori drug and alcohol service has been running random drug tests on its staff.

Saandra Mauger from Ngaiterangi’s community action on youth and drugs programme says the results have been negative, which is positive for the service.

She says the tests began two years ago for five substances including methamphetamine, cocaine and cannabis.

“We’ve been advocating that staff or employees who work in the alcohol and drug field, whether that be government or non-government agencies, that they be open for random drug testing which demonstrates that we are walking the talk and raising credibility with funders but also credibility with the people that we work with,” Ms Mauger says.


Whina Cooper used to say intermarriage was the cure for poor race relations, and it looks like Maori are taking the late northern leader’s advice.

Analysis of census data shows the proportion of Maori men partnering non-Maori women has jumped from 35 percent in 1981 to almost 50 percent last year.

Some 45 percent of the partners of Maori women were non-Maori, although Maori women under 30 were more likely to seek out a Maori mate.

Lyndon Walker from Auckland University’s Social Statistics Research Group says it’s hard to say what is responsible for the change.

“Certainly there’s anecdotal evidence that people are becoming more inclined to take a partner of different ethnicity and so the figures to some degree backed that up,” Mr Walker says.

Changes in the census question on ethnicity can make it had to make firm conclusions about the differences over time.


Income gaps between Maori and European families with children paint a disturbing picture of New Zealand society.

Andrew Sporle, a research fellow at Auckland University, says over the past 25 years the gap has widened, as the real incomes of Maori lag those of Pakeha.

He told a sociology conference in Auckland that lower rates of home ownership among Maori meant the gap would persist, and overcrowding in Maori households has increased over the past five years as housing costs rose.

“I think it’s incredibly disturbing that in the 10 years that we’ve had pretty much continuous economic growth that we also continue to have these major ethnic disparities in family level well-being, especially when there are children in the house and those children are our future, and by having persistent inequalities at a time of relative prosperity, I find that extremely disturbing,” Mr Sporle says.

He says the census data shows one size fits all policies aimed at addressing poverty and under-development haven’t worked.


Don't always point the finger at rangatahi.

That's the view of Saandra Mauger, who runs a drug and alcohol programme for Tauranga iwi Ngaiterangi.

Otago University researchers have found an increase in the number of teenagers with alcohol problems.

But Ms Mauger says that finding takes attention away from those mostly responsible – the adults who are allowing a disproportionate number of liquor outlets in low socio economic areas which have a youthful population.

“We can't just keep pointing the finger at the young ones when it’s the adults who develop them, adults who advertise them and adults who make decisions on where to put what outlets, so I’m not ok about pointing the finger at rangatahi. I will encourage who’s making decisions in what capacity and the impacts they’re having on different socioeconomic groupings,” Ms Mauger says.

Rather than impose solutions, the Ngaiterangi community action on youth and drugs programme takes direction from hapu and marae as to what substance abuse problems in their area need addressing as a priority.


Maori students find it hard to ask for what they need to get through university.

That’s the finding of a Massey University librarian who is making a study of how senior Maori students access information.

Spencer Lilley has won a Claude McCarthy Fellowship to research how Maori teenagers find out about career option, academic work, homework, and about tikanga or whakapapa.

He says the work grew from his observations at the library desk.

“When they come in, a lot of Maori students struggle with finding information within the university system to assist them with their studies. I wanted to see what barriers they faced so it would give us some understanding of those barriers and whether there are ways we could develop strategies to break down those barriers,” Mr Lilley says.

He says Maoris secondary and tertiary students will try to find information from trusted friends and family members, rather than asking teachers, guidance counselors, kuia or kaumatua.


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