Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, January 21, 2008

No ordinary son back home

Hone Tuwhare is back in his home town Kaitaia, where arrangements are being made for his funeral at Te Kotahitaga Marae tomorrow.

The 85 year old poet died in Dunedin last Wednesday after a long illness, and has been lying in state in the city.

Labour MP Shane Jones says Tuwhare had inspired generations of young Maori, particularly his anti-nuclear poem No Ordinary Sun, first published in 1964.

“That particular poem and the fact it was put together by a Maori was a revelation. The way he used English language didn’t seem to accept that poetry should be bound by all sorts of conventions. He managed to evoke the Maori spirit. He talked about the Hokianga, he talked about death, he talked about life, he talked about the slap of the canoe paddles. All of these things brought Maori culture and Maori identity to a broader audience,” Mr Jones says.

He says Tuwhare had a healthy sense of irreverence, and his poetry can be seen as an antidote to the calcification of Maori culture.

Hone Tuwhare’s funeral will be at 1pm on Tuesday.

MAORI WARDENS GET PAID LIAISON

Liaison officers will this week start working with Maori wardens in six regions.

Te Rau Clarke from Te Puni Kokiri says the appointments are part of a programme to strengthen the wardens organisationally and improve the effectiveness of their community work.

“Never before have Maori Wardens had paid staff focused only on wardens’ mahi, so they’re used as a resource to help them administrate themselves, improved ways to help them manage meetings, how to plan, all those sort of things that have been missing and they’ve done it on their own,” Mr Clarke says.

The wardens have operated under the New Zealand Maori Council, but there was minimal funding until a $2.5 million dollar boost in last year's budget for uniforms, vehicles, communications equipment and training.

MAORI TOUR OPERATORS FACE RISING EXPECTATIONS

Maori operators are looking at how they can give tourists more for their dollar.

A Tourism New Zealand visitor survey has found an increase in the expectations travelers have of the country's core strengths - scenery, security and Maori culture.

Bryan Hughes, the Maori deputy chair of Tourism Rotorua says operators find visitors want to interact with locals rather than just watch performances.

“Somehow we have to rise to the expectations international tourists are now having where they do with to engage with local cultures whenever they travel, but they don’t want to do this in a way where they feel it has been turned on specifically for them,” Mr Hughes says.

One approach is to make use of existing programmes, such as an a new tour of Mokoia Island by iwi-owned company Wai Ora which includes a look at the work Mita Mohi does training rangatahi in Maori martial arts and culture.

ELECTION RESULT EYED FOR DIRECTION

A Maori academic says a call by former prime minister Mike Moore for a constitutional review are unlikely to find much support from Maori - this year.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of Maori studies at Canterbury University says any discussion about New Zealand's constitutional arrangement will need to focus on the place of the Treaty of Waitangi.

There has also been talk of a Maori representative body or parliament.

“Some impetus has been added to that with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples being passed last year. Having said that, it does seem that Maori have been sitting back in ’08 and and looking forward to the election and seeing what happens then,” Mr Taonui says.

EDUCATION GAPS STILL CONCERN

The gap between Maori and non-Maori students is continuing to frustrate those charged with eliminating it.

Doug Hauraki from the Maori Education Trust, which hands out more than a million dollars a year in financial aid to Maori students, says the number of Maori who make it to university or polytechnic is still too low.

He says over its 47 years the trust has helped more than 150,000 students who have gone on to graduate, but more needs to be done.

“The disparities in achievement at tertiary level between Maori and Pakeha, while it has improved for Maori, the gap still exists between Maori and non Maori,” Mr Hauraki says.

Maori students wanting secondary or tertiary scholarships should check out the trust's website at maorieducation.org.nz

WHANAU MIGRATION BOOSTING TASMAN PUSH

The author of a report on Maori in Australia says chain migration by whanau is helping boost the number of citizens crossing the Tasman.

More than 27,000 New Zealanders shifted to Australia last year, the largest number since 1988.

Paul Hamer, a former Te Puni Kokiri policy analyst, says there appears to be a 10 year cycle, which is currently nearing a peak.

He says individuals usually go for economic reasons, and then encourage whanau to follow.

“They secure a kind of base in Australia and then they’re followed by immediate family, by cousins, by aunties, so I’ve certainly come across situations where one persons movement has led to 30, 40, 50 people relocating to Australia so that whanau can stay together, because obviously that’s so important to so many Maori,” Mr Hamer says.

He says many Maori in Australia discover how much they have taken their culture for granted, and they work hard to maintain it over there.

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