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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ikaroa-Rawhiti battle of the heart

The battle for the Maori Party nomination in Ikaroa Rawhiti has turned into a battle of the heart.

Among the five candidates are Atareta Poananga, who polled almost 2000 votes short of incumbent Parekura Horomia last election, and Derek Fox, who was 700 votes behind in 1999.

Ms Poananga told broadcaster Willie Jackson on iwi radio today she's been Mr Fox's partner for the past 12 years, until the rivalry ended the relationship.

“We had some discussions about which one of us should stand for the Maori Party and it was a very difficult decision that we had to make because one of us probably needed to step aside because we both know that both of us are not going to get elected, only one can and yet we are both striving for the same goal. It’s very hard to do that in that situation so we decided in the end we would both put our nominations forward.”
Jackson: “So it was quite amicable was it?”
Poananga: “Not especially.”

Derek Fox says he had been asked to stand by many people inside and outside the electorate, and he would not comment on his personal life.

CONSULTATION ON DRUG WAR DIRECTION

Maori health workers want the United Nations to look at the wider causes of drug use.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Vienna-based Committee on Narcotic Drugs are consulting on a new policy to replace its previous 10 year plan, for a Drug Free World by 2008.

Catherine Clark from Auckland Maori provider Hapai Te Hauora says today's hui in Wellington identified some of the questions that need to be asked.

“What are the current policies that disenfranchise people? What is it abut our society and the way we treat each other and don’t address things like racism and poverty or education or poor housing? We don’t focus enough on those issues. What we tend to focus on is the treatment end of things,” Ms Clark says.

TAONGA FROM THE VAULTS GETS VISITORS IN

East Coasters are lining up to see their taonga.

Monty Souter, the director of the Tairawhiti Museum, says they've just had one of their busiest summers, with both Maori and non-Maori keen to see rare artifacts from the vaults.

“We've got 1600 taonga that are either loaned or donated to the museum which haven’t seen the light of day since the 1950s, a lot of it, so we’ve hauled out something like 130 pieces which relate really top those region and put them on display for the community, so we’ve had the largest number over the Christmas January period that we’ve had for a long time,” Dr Souter says.

One of the most popular items in the exhibition was an extremely rare whalebone taiaha.

WINNING SEATS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE

One of the contenders for the Maori Party's Ikaroa Rawhiti nomination says party members have to decide who has the best chance of taking the East Coast seat.

The broadcaster, who lost to Parekura Horomia as an independent in 1999, is one of five contenders.

Atareta Poananga, the defeated Maori Party candidate last time, says the broadcaster's decision to put his name forward spells the end of their 12 year relationship.

Mr Fox says his private life is off the agenda, but the needs of the Maori party are definitely on it.

“Winning the seat and winning the rest of the Maori seats has to be the goal of the Maori Party in order to be able to establish itself as a party who is able to influence the direction of government regardless of who is able to hold the majority of seats, whether it's National or Labour,” Mr Fox says.

He says the polls are saying Labour won't form the next government, so Maori need to consider how they can exert their influence.

OHIA KEEN ON SECOND CHANCE

Meanwhile, the Maori Party's Te Tai Tonga candidate is confident he can take the seat off Mahara Okeroa in his second attempt.

Monte Ohia was confirmed this weekend as the party's candidate in an electorate which covers the South Island and Wellington City to Porirua.

Since the last election he's moved to Christchurch to take up a job at the polytechnic, and say that's given him the opportunity to meet a lot more people in the rohe.

He's going to make education a priority.

“We have the worst statistics in Southland, Otago, West Coast and Canterbury for the non-achievement of Maori students in secondary schools in the country, we have the worst,” Mr Ohia says.

40 percent of the votes are still in Wellington.

TAINUI FIELDS 3264 FOR HAKA RECORD

(Sound of haka Ka mate)

That's 3264 Tainui, led by Rahui Papa, performing a mass haka at this weekend's Tainui Games.

The attempt on the world record, which previously stood at 2200, was a highlight of the event which attracted almost 20,000 people to Hopuhopu.

Many were there for competitions between Waikato-Tainui marae in sports ranging from netball and touch to table tennis and indoor bowls.

Closing the three-day festival yesterday, King Tuheitia said he wanted it to become a yearly get-together.

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