Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Leaders whistle up the dogs

Dog whistling - that's Sue Bradford's tag for this week's speeches by John Key and Helen Clark.

The Green MP says the coded language the party leaders are using to appeal to their supporters blames all society's ills to the actions of young people.

She says by attacking people who can't speak back, they sidestepped the underlying social and economic factors affecting places like South Auckland.

“I think this is another generation of trying to find a group in society who don’t have a strong voice. The last time we saw it happen with Maori big time. We’ve also seen a lot of it aimed at beneficiaries and unemployed people. This time it appears that it’s young people who are being targeted and demonized,” Ms Bradford says.


The number of Maori doing apprenticeships is lagging their representation in the population.

The Maori Affairs Minister, Parekura Horomia, says the September quarter statistics show more than 14,400 young people had signed on to the modern apprenticeship scheme, well ahead of Labour's target.

He says more than 1500 of them are Maori.

Manukau Institute of Technology director of Maori Wiremu Doherty says because of the relatively young age of the Maori population, the number of Maori apprentices should be closer to 3000.

He says the wrong signals are being sent to rangatahi.

“Far too long there was this drive and this passion that the only thing that led to employment was a university tertiary education and somewhere along the line we lost sight of our trades,” Mr Doherty says.

He says the industry training organisations need to lift their preformance in building relationships with Maori communities, schools and wananga.


A key document in the revival of ta moko has been put online.

The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has made available a copy of Horatio Robley's 1896 book Maori Tattooing.

Alison Stevenson, the centre's director, says there were concerns about Robley's use of preserved heads for some of his research.

The project generated debate about the digitisation of matauranga Maori, and the centre consulted with ta moko artists and other Maori on what sort of Maori knowledge should be made available.

“As a result of that consultation work, we decided to go ahead with the digitization work, but suppress from the online edition any images of mokomokai or ancestral remains. We felt that it would be disrespectful to include those in a freely available online version,” Ms Stevenson says.

Other moko-related texts have also been posted, including a contemporary essay and a 19th century manuscript written by Wiremu Maihi Te Rangikaheke for Governor Grey.


The organiser of treaty commemorations at Waitangi says the flag activists want flown on the Auckland Harbour Bridge isn't the Maori flag.

Pita Paraone from Ngati Hine, who is also a New Zealand First MP, would like to see a flag representing Maori fluing from the bridge on Waitangi Day.

But the black and red flag, which came out of a competition run by a sovereignty group, doesn't have his support.

“It's become common for many people to perceive the tino rangatiratanga flag as being the Maori flag. There hasn’t been a general discussion that that is the Maori flag. Until that discussion takes place and there is general agreement that yeah, that’s our flag, I fo not believe we have a flag that represents Maori,” Mr Paraone says.

A stronger contender for a Maori flag would be the white New Zealand ensign flown at Waitangi.


The minister of Maori Affairs is defending the government's record on trade training, despite Maori being under-represented on the modern apprenticeship scheme.

Parekura Horomia says the government has exceeded its target of 14,000 modern apprentices with a year to spare, and more than 1500 of them are Maori.

That's only about half of what could be expected, given the relative youth of the Maori population.

But he says the important thing is those young people now have a more secure future ahead of them.

“That 1500 families will look after themselves for a long long time because of their ticket, because of their qualification, and because staying in the education forum and that’s really where we’re going. Educate the whanau and they’ll look after themselves,” Mr Horomia says.

The government is keen to keep young people in school or training.


A three-year study into a virus which causes bronchiolitis, croup and pneumonia has found Maori children are more severely affected.

Most children under two have Respiratory syncytial virus, but a study found a disproportionate number of Maori among the infants hospitalised with bronchiolitis during the study period.

Joanna Kirman from the Infectious Diseases Group at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research says the number is high even when known risk factors... such as smoking rates... are taken into account.

She says the next stage of the research will be to look at nutrition factors.

“One thing we’re looking at in particular is vitamin D because deficiencies in vitamin D have been shown to be linked to severe respiratory diseases so that could give us a clue and it’s very easily treatable as well,” Dr Kirman says.

The team has funding from the Lottery Health Research to continue its research.


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