Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tertiary study low earning

The Greens' Maori Affairs spokesperson is attacking government politicians who claim credit for more Maori studying a tertiary level.

Metiria Turei says those same politicians have done little about the burden of Maori student debt, which has ballooned out to more than $2 billion.

She says changes in the labour market means qualifications are increasingly important for getting jobs, but they don't offer value for money.

“A certificate or diploma isn’t going to get you the job with the big money that’s going to help you pay back the debt. You really need to go back and do a degree or postgraduate education after that in order to attract the income and it’s putting Maori in a terrible position of increasing their debt levels but not getting the advantage of getting a tertiary education that is going to make a difference for them,”
Ms Turei says.

She says the student loan system works against many Maori students, who start their study later and often on a part time basis.


Meanwhile, a private sector company is taking the lead on getting Maori into the IT industry.

The New Zealand arm of global IT services giant EDS has announced it is partnering with the Maori Education Trust to offer four undergraduate and one post-graduate scholarship.

Te Puni Kokiri has put up matching funds, doubling the positions on offer.

Steve Murray of Ngati Kuri. the chief executive of EDS, says he decided on the initiative after looking at the composition of the company's 24-hundred strong New Zealand workforce.

“In our workplace Maori are definitely underrepresented and we can do something to change that. I guess if you look at Maori individuals, they’re a talented innovative group of people, and we want them as part of our diverse tapestry of our workforce,” Mr Murray says.

As well as study grants, the scholarship winners will get holiday work, mentoring, and a fast track into EDS's graduate recruitment programme.


The former head of Kohanga Reo fears a programme to screen pre-schoolers won't have the resources needed to tackle the problems it uncovers.

The Education Ministry is working with the ministries of Health and Social Development to test 4-year-olds for anti-social behaviour, and offer help for parents when problems are identified.

But Iritana Tawhiwhirangi says there aren't enough people with the skills to work with Maori families, if issues are identified with their tamariki.

“Now I don't think testing should take place without taking place within the bosom of the whanau so that everybody understands what the results of these are and how many people arte skilled enough to know hopw to deal with whanau, how to get into those homes,” Mrs Tawhiwhirangi says.

She says Maori children showing early signs of anti-social behaviour probably face many problems in their homes.


A tough response to youth crime.

That's the response of a former Maori Affairs community officer to a spate of killings in South Auckland.

Dennis Hansen says bringing back Maori community officers is one way to get young people and their families the help they need.

Another option is to bring back military service.

“Put them in the army and the navy and the air force. If they don’t want us to handle them in their own society, well let them be handled the same way in the army and the navy,” Mr Hansen says.

He says the old community officers had skills and cultural understandings which modern social workers seem to lack.


One of the country's newest judges is encouraged by the number of Maori gaining legal qualifications.

Craig Coxhead was sworn on to the bench of the Maori land court at a ceremony at Rangiaowhia Marae in Hamilton on Friday, alongside former colleague Stephen Clarke.

The former president of Te Hunga Roia Maori says when he started his career, Hamilton's Maori legal community could meet for lunch... all five of them.

It's a different story now.

“What's pleasing is there are more and more people, not only in practice but more and more Maori people with legal skills going off into a whole range of areas, lecturing, into policy, going to work for their runanga or trust boards, so he pai rawa,” Judge Coxhead says.

He will be based in Wellington, while Judge Clarke will remain in Hamilton.


The life of a prominent Tuhoe composer is the subject of a new docu-drama.

Kohine Ponika began writing waiata and moteatea at the age of 12.

Songs such as Karanga Karanga, Toia Mai Ra and E Rona E are still sung on marae today.

Her granddaughter, Ngahuia Wade, is directing the documentary, with filming due to start in Ruatoki next week.

She says one of the scenes will recreate Ponika's meeting with an important mentor.

“Sir Apirana Ngata, during one of his many trips to Ruatoki and to the Ureweras, was welcomed on to one of the marae there and noticed how beautiful the songs were, and at that stage my grandmother would have been about 20, and he asked her father who wrote these songs, and her father said ‘Well Kohine did, my daughter,’ so after that he proceeded to advise her on composition,” Ms Wade says.

A CD of Kohine Ponika's songs performed by whanau members will be released later in the year.


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