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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, January 28, 2008

Whangaroa dissenters can't see wood for trees

Members of Ngati Kahu ki Whangaroa are fed up with a small splinter group which wants the benefits of $30 million treaty settlement for itself.

The group, with outside supporters, disrupted a settlement signing ceremony before Christmas, and last week it chopped down shelter belts on the farm which is due to be returned to the wider iwi.

Ella Henry, a claim negotiator, says the group is threatening an extraordinarily good settlement.

“Over 15 percent of our lanill be returned to us. I mean if 15 percent of Kaitahu or Tainui had been returned to them, it would be a completely different landscape for those iwi, so we are getting substantial land back, plus a working farm, and over a million dollars worth of stock and plant. This is the basis for our small tribe to really build for the future so it’s incredibly depressing when there is a raruraru, especially because I know it is between cousin and cousin, uncle and niece,” Ms Henry says.

The Ngati Kahu ki Whangaroa Trust Board has asked the Office of Treaty Settlements, which is still the owner of the farm, to call in the police.


A Maori Party MP is trying to encourage other Pacific people to throw off the yolk of colonialism

Pita Sharples is in Hawaii running seminars at the Kamehameha schools, which were founded by descendants of Hawaiian royalty.

He says its a longstanding relationship and there are many similarities with what Maori have done in taking control of their education.

While their heart is with their culture surviving and their language and so on, they are very much under the America first. I teach them to make a stand on issues relating to justice, relating to language, their culture and tino rangatiratanga, just how we do it at home,” Dr Sharples says.

The Kamehameha schools have 5000 students on their three main campuses, as well as another 23,000 in community programmes and 1500 preschoolers.


Good weather and a full programme attracted 20,000 Ngapuhi home to Kaikohe this weekend for their third tribal festival.

Master of Ceremonies Julian Wilcox says the festivals have contributed to the growing sense of pride among members of the country’s largest iwi.

He says despites Ngapuhi’s reputation for confrontation, the event was relatively incident free.

“The festival just seems to get bigger and better. Everyone seems to be on the same buzz of just coming home and seeing each other and having a good time with the stages and having a look at the art exhibition and going to the wananga. We’re coming away from this festival really hoping it’s not going to be another two years before we have another one back in Kaikohe, but that’s the way it’s going to be I think,” Mr Wilcox says.

The success of the festival means marae and other groups in the north are starting to organise complimentary activities around it.


The Maori tertiary students association is warning that Maori students are racking up debt for courses which won’t increase their earning power.

Victor Manawatu, the kaituhono of Te Mana Akonga, says Maori student debt now stands at more than $2 billion – twice the sum budgeted for treaty settlements.

86 percent of those students are only doing diploma or certificate
courses, which will bring little boost to earning capacity.

He says Maori need to make it an election issue by backing parties
which will tackle student debt.

“You may be only one person but every single vote counts in this election and this election is going to be very important, particularly for the Maori Party and the Green Party. They are going to have a major influence on the makeup of the next government, and so we need to get our people out there to vote,” Mr Manawatu says.


Politicians are being told they should stay away from Ratana until they fulfill some of their promises.

The Maori Party has been critical of the annual migration of MP's to join the celebrations for the birthday of church founder Tahupotiki Ratana.

Pita Sharples says when Labour first courted Ratana in the 1930's there was a symbolic exchange of gifts, and if the MP's knew their history they would be too embarrassed to turn up.

“One of the gifts was a broken watch, symbolizing the broken promises. Now these have never been fulfilled, so I wonder why they keep going back there. Every year the government and the major parties talk of these things without fulfilling those promises so I think the time has come now for the Ratana people to insist that we parliamentarians look into those broken promises,” Dr Sharples says.


A central North Island hapu is keen to see the lower reaches of its awa restored.

Today contractors move in to remove sediment which has built up into islands in the Tongariri River between Tokaanu and Lake Taupo.

Huia Paki, the head of Ngati Turangitukua’s environment committee, the Tokaanu power project reduced volume of water in the river, so it can no longer carry the sediment into the lake.

There is also a sand bar growing at the river delta.

The next job that we want to do is to remove that sand so that the water has a place to go when iut builds up during flood time, because if we don’t, we have flood issues both sides of the river. The deal for us is to ensure the river is healthy and people are kept safe,” Mr Paki says.


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