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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ratana home to politics

A Ratana Labour MP is dismissing the Maori Party's warning against gatecrashing this week's celebrations at Ratana Pa.

Mita Ririnui says politics has always been a part of the January event, which marks the birthday of church founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.

He says the morehu are interested by what the parties have to say.

Tariana Turia, whose home marae is in neighbouring Whangaehu, says it's inappropriate for politicians to view their trip to Ratana as the start of the political year.

But Mr Ririnui says she's changed her waiata.

“The co-leader of the Maori Party shepherded the 2004 hikoi against the Foreshore and Seabed (Bill) into Ratana Pa, where she met them. When she launched her party and launched her policy, she did that from Ratana Pa. When they won the four seats in Parliament, the first big hui they went to was at Ratana Pa. Now, why the change?” he says.

Mr Ririnui says the Maori Party is slipping into Ratana Pa by the side door because it no longer enjoys the support from Maori it was getting two or three years ago.


Moves to curb climate change could be costly for Maori.

Consultant Willie Te Aho says Maori landowners who want to switch from forestry to dairying could face a $13,000 dollar a hectare penalty under the proposed climate change emissions trading bill.

They could also miss out on on carbon credits on the 400,000 hectares of land held by the Crown which are subject to Treaty claims.

“There's going to be an allocation for those lands, and to cut a long story short, they’re looking at not allocating to Crown Forests licensed lands for a range of reasons. Now for Maori, that’s an $800 million opportunity that they’re not getting the access to that all other New Zealanders will have access to,” Mr Te Aho says.

There is a series of hui on the climate change bill over the next month, starting next Tuesday in Hastings.


Whanau in Kawhia are putting the finishing touches to their offerings for next week's kai festival.

Organiser Lloyd Whiu says traditional kai has to be collected at the proper time, and a lot of it needs extensive preparation and storage.

He says the festival, now in its fifth year, has been a great learning exercise for the community.

“In the long term it’s all about retaining the knowledge about how to get it and we know several marae, whanau, hapu in the area that have called wananga specifically to learn how to collect this kai, in what season you’re supposed to collect it, and then it’s all about storing it so it is ready for the kai festival,” Mr Whiu says.


Hapu from Aotea Harbour are trying to stop a developer digging up a thousand truckloads of soil to make way for an exclusive coastal subdivision.

Shane Edwards says marae around the harbour associated with Ngati Whawhaakia, Ngati Te Weehi and Ngati Patupoho fear pollution from the work will damage shellfish beds and fishing grounds.

He says Environment Waikato regional council ignored its own rules in letting the developer, Aotea Estates, get as far ahead as it has.

The hapu are using a resource consent hearing in Kawhia yesterday and today to challenge the project.

“It's costing a lot of aroha and a lot of time because we couldn’t afford lawyers so we’ve all been in the books and in the history and producing our statements and pulling our case files together, so it’s cost us in terms of time we’ve pretty much missed Christmas and new year,” Mr Edwards says.

If the digging consent is granted, the hapu are likely to appeal to the Environment Court.


Retiring Green Nandor Tanczos is full of praise for some of his political opponents.

The dreadlocked MP has call it quits after three terms in parliament so he can spend more time with his young family.

He says the Maori party has been a welcome voice in the House.

“I think it's been fantastic having the Maori Party in Parliament. I think they’ve brought a voice that was lacking before and I think they’ve articulated really clearly the Maori positions and perspectives on things in a way that’s won the respect across the House and in the media as well, so I think that’s been a fantastic development,” Mr Tancos says.

Maori still need to push for constitutional reform, and be open to debate on republicanism.


An outdoor education conference in Christchurch is hearing how Maori values can affect the way rivers are managed and used.

The conference at Lincoln University has attracted delegates from 14 countries, including teachers, tour guides, mountain guides, camp managers and government planners.

Garth Gully, who manages the safety programme for Outdoors New Zealand, says a session on Maori attitudes to the environment was well received.

“Understanding about te wai ora and the cultural imperatives we have in the rivers in Aotearoa, how we as a sector, as outdoor professionals, can lower the drowning rate in our country, but also recognise that rivers and awa are integral to our culture here,” Mr Gully says.

He says the challenge for Outdoor Recreation is to provide people with the skills to use rivers correctly.


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