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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 04, 2008

Pit bull powhiri peeves politician

The marae is not the place for young dogs or young men copying them.

That's the reaction of Labour MP Shane Jones to a trend for warriors doing the wero to snarl and growl.

He says it's a recent development, and is often seen in powhiri for members of parliament or public servants.

He blames the influence of gang culture, kapa haka fashions and activists like Tame Iti, who have taken to spitting and other offensive behaviour to show their dislike of visitors.

“Once you start to normalise that, then it’s about time that we abandon a lot of these rituals if that is all we’re going to do. When your manuhiri come to the marae you dignify them. If you don’t want to dignify them, then don’t ask them to come to your place. If all you’re going to use the powhiri for is an opportunity to get your personal ego staunchness out in front of everyone, then go and start boxing, go and take up rugby league. That's not for the marae,” Mr Jones says.

He says the traditional use for dogs was to fatten them up and eat them.

2007 SIGNIFICANT YEAR FOR TREATY

The Race Relations Commissioner is defending his finding that 2007 was a year of significant developments for the Treaty of Waitangi.

Te Ururoa Flavell from the Maori Party says the treaty chapter of Joris de Bres' annual report on race relations ignores critical reports from the Waitangi Tribunal on the settlement process, and the refusal of New Zealand to sign the international declaration on the rights of indigenous people.

But Mr de Bres says the report's purpose is to catalogue progress and indicate what still needs to be done.

The race relations report is not a polemic and it’s not an apology. It’s a record of events primarily and I draw some conclusions out of that when we publish the report,” Mr de Bres says.

He says positives in 2007 include the tribunal releasing five reports, the return of Mauao to Tauranga Moana iwi and the Wanganui courthouse to river iwi, and the allocation of fisheries settlement assets.

CARVED BILLBOARD FOR WAITANGI DAY

Maori Television's living billboard has been completed in time for Waitangi Day.

Carvers Blaine Te Rito and Mike Davies have worked round the clock for a month perched outside the channel's Newmarket studios.

It features a waka with two figures representing the crown and tangata whenua.

Mr Te Rito says he and Mr Davies, who is English, wanted to celebrate the spirit of the Treaty.

This waka is moving into some point in the future and the representatives of the Crown will be holding on to a hoe, the paddle, steering the waka, but the Maori will be in the front directing, so the final destination isn’t judged by one party. It’s a negotiation between the two parties,” Mr Te Rito says.

The billboard will eventually find a home at the Waitangi National Trust in the Bay of Islands.

GOING TO THE DOGS UNDER INFLUENCE OF ITI

Tuhoe activist Tame Iti is being blamed for increasingly uncivil powhiri being given to MPs and civil servants.

Labour list MP Shane Jones says he's fed up with young men snarling and growliing like dogs when they present the taki or challenge.

He says it's a new development which is not based on tradition.

"I suspect that this is partly being fed by this machismo culture of intimidation that the gangs are feeding to our young people at the moment and I also blame Tame Iti and his ilk, the way that they completely corrupted the powhiri ceremony there in the Bay of Plenty where if you went there and they didn't like you, they were spitting on the marae, and I think that once you start to nomalise that, then it's about time that we abandon a lot of these rituals if that is all we are going to do," Mr Jones says.

He says it's the sort of aggressive behaviour which turns young people away from the marae, and destroys the culture.

DOG WHISTLING SPEECH DENIED

National's Maori affairs spokesperson is rejecting claims John Key is planning an election year attack on Maori rangatahi.

Green MP Sue Bradford claimed the National leader's agenda setting speech last week was a case of dog whistling, sending a message to voters that a National Government would crack down on the young.

But Georgina te Heuheu says since under Mr Key, has focused on opportunities for young people and the way they are prepared for the workforce.

“We need to create an economy and create a society where we don’t have 70,000 of our people moving over to Australia every year We need them over here, growing our own economy, and that goes particularly for Maori because the bulge in the Maori population is high at the youth end,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

She says last week's National caucus retreat focused on the economy, rather than on any specific Maori policy.

HOPES KEPT ALIVE FOR KOATA AIRLINES

A top of the South Island iwi still hopes to have its own airline.

Ngati Koata Trust put on hold its plans for a Nelson-based charter and freight service using leased planes.

Roma Hippolyte, the trust's chair, says its partners had pulled out, making the venture too risky.

Circumstances could change.

We've got everything still sitting there. If in the future it all lines up with backers and availability of aircraft and it still makes financial sense, then we would look at it again, but at this point we are not,” Mr Hippolyte says.

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