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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, January 25, 2008

Warm political welcome at Ratana

Despite calls from one of their colleagues to stay away, politicians got a warm welcome at Ratana Pa yesterday.

MPs from Labour, National and New Zealand First headed to the marae near Wanganui to attend the hui marking the birthday of church founder T W Ratana ... and to woo the Maori vote ahead of this year's election.

Tau Henare, who accompanied National leader John Key, says the warning by Tariana Turia from the Maori Party to leave politics were at odds with the mood of the day.

“There were a few comments about the winds of change coming, and given that Tariana had said no politics please, it’s funny that the locals, they wanted to dive into the politics, but hey, it was all good, and it was a great day,” Mr Henare says.

John Key told the hui the Treaty settlement process had stalled under Labour, and National will increase resources to the Waitangi Tribunal.

JAIL TIME CALL FOR TOURISM PREDATORS

Rotorua's deputy mayor is backing a call to jail people who mug tourists.

Trevor Maxwell says robbers are doing immense harm to Rotorua's reputation.

The head of the Waikato Bay of Plenty Law Society, Jonathan Temm, wants to make theft from a tourist a special crime carrying a mandatory jail term.

Mr Maxwell says it's the best idea he's heard for a while.

“At least it can be seen that we are trying to support something that might deter some of the lowlife that do do this to guests. We’re known for manaakitanga and this is not a good way to treat our guests that come to New Zealand,” Mr Maxwell says.

He says the idea is likely to be welcomed in other tourism towns.

KAIKOHE BRACING FOR NGAPUHI FESTIVAL

Kaikohe is bracing itself for an influx of up to 20 thousand Ngapuhi, home to celebrate their culture and identity.

Northland College is the venue for a weekend of sports, talk and music from acts with northern connections like Ardijah and Che Fu.

Sonny Tau from Te Runanga o Ngapuhi says the organisers - and the town - have learned a lot from the two previous Ngapuhi Festivals.

“We've run out of kai in the shops before because the businesses didn’t take us seriously, but we’ve met them now and really got stuck into them about the ability to feed our people when they come home. We’ve got hangis 24-7 all over the place. Marae are going away from festival with 8, $9000 made. They’ve never seen that sort of money made in the north,” Mr Tau says.

The festival has proved an effective way for the runanga to communicate with the tribe's 100 thousand members.

POLICE WORKING WITH GREY GANGSTERS ON YOUTH PROBLEMS

The police are starting to think outside the box on how to tackle the growing street gang problem.

Huri Dennis, the Maori Strategic Advisor at Police National Headquarters, says a new generation of criminals will need a different approach.

He says that might mean taking some risks and working with veteran gang leaders like Edge Te Whaiti and Roy Dunn, who are trying to tackle the problems at the source.

“We've aligned our mahi with Roy and Edge because we’ve seen what they’re doing and for better or for worse them and their team are doing what they can to help who they can in particular some of our own rangatahi. We need to just start thinking a little bit more creatively about how we deal with this, and we need to get it done pretty quickly,” Mr Dennis says.

Five teenagers appeared in the North Shore court yesterday on charges of aggravated robbery in relation to a series of attacks last week.

STILL HOPE FOR CENTRAL NORTH ISLAND DEAL BY MARCH

The Government is hoping to salvage a settlement of Central North Island claims by March.

A proposed settlement which would give Te Pumautanga, a group of Te Arawa iwi and hapu, more than $80 million of Kaingaroa Forest land was put on hold when other tribes claimed they had overlapping interests.

Willie te Aho, a consultant for Te Pumautanga, says the Office of Treaty Settlements has hired Wira Gardiner, a former head of Te Puni Kokiri, to facilitate talks with the other iwi, including Tuwharetoa, Tuhoe and Ngati Rangitihi.

He says Te Pumautanga is still keen for its settlement to go ahead.

“March is the d-day. Hopefully a common way will be found forward. If it can’t then we expect, with respect to Te Pumautanga and Te Arawa, that that legislation will go through the house in April-May,” Mr te Aho says.

Other lawyers involved in the process say the government is unlikely to get the votes to pass settlement legislation unless it can point to widespread support on the ground.

OLD FILMS FOUND FOR NGAPUHI FESTIVAL

Ngapuhi is bringing home some of its ancestors this weekend - as well as thousands of living members.

A feature of the third Ngapuhi Festival at Kaikohe is a film evening, with historical footage shot in the north.

Lani Sowter from the Ngapuhi Runanga says the films, dating from the 1900s to the 1950s, were unearthed from the National Film Archive by Lawrence Wharerau.

“He's gone and spoken to his friends there and we’ve been fortunate enough to get those back so people can have a look at what Ngapuhi looked like in 1906,” Ms Sowter says.

The festival will also include sports, music, culture and a wananga series where people can learn about Ngapuhi history.

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