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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sorry the right thing to say

February 14
Tamaki Makaurau MP Pita Sharples says every Maori would support yesterday's apology to Australia's stolen generation.

He says the text of the apology read by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was excellent, and sincere emotion could be heard in his voice.

He says over the years Australian politicians have asked him what they should do for the Aboriginal, and his advice has always been to say sorry.

“Now it's happened it’s cleared the way and I look forward to some realistic projects bringing the Aborigines into today’s times and so in their education, their health and the other things that have lagged behind,” Dr Sharples says.

JOHN KEY REJECTS GLOBAL APOLOGY

And National's leader also rejects the idea of a global apology to Maori.

John Key says apologies are an important part of individual treaty settlements, and will continue to be done in that context.

He says while there elements in common with Australian situation, the overall picture is different.

The whole situation for indigenous people in New Zealand is radically different than it is in Australia and I think in a sense we’ve come a ling way in the last 30 years and we’ve traveled a pretty interesting road and I think in that I feel things are very different over here but apologise are most likely to continue within the settlement process,” Mr Key says.

He says the momentum among Maori seems to be to llok forward, rather than to continue to dwell on the past.

AUPOURI DOG TAGS COMING HOME FROM SOMME

The weather beaten dog tags of a Te Aupouri soldier are coming home.

Richard Keepa survived World War 1, but lost the tags during the battle of the Somme.

They were found in a field last year by a six year old schoolgirl, and they're being handed over to today to Mahara Okeroa, the associate minister for culture and heritage, in the French town of Albert.

Bronwyn Dalley, the ministry's chief historian, says Mr Keepa left Te Kao in 1914 and was one of the few Maori in the main contingent.

She says arrangements are being made to return the tags to his family.

“We traced Richard and his whanau back to Northland and one of Richard’s sons is still alive living in the UK, he’s in his 60s now, but it’s a lovely thing to be able to bring back something like this to the family, personal remains that were sitting against the guy’s skin, against his neck, and bringing these back to the family it's just wonderful,” Dr Dalley says.

Because of the find, a relationship has been formed between Albert school and Te Kao Primary.

TRUSTS COULD DO MORE FOR HOUSING NEEDS

The Minister of Maori Affairs wants Maori land trusts to do more for their people's housing needs.

Parekura Horomia says this week's housing package should free up more land for affordable housing.

The package includes a review of Crown land holdings in urban areas, a shared equity scheme for first home buyers, and a requirement for affordable housing to be included in large scale developments.

The package has come under fire for not addressing long standing barriers to Maori building on multiply-owned land.

Mr Horomia says the reality is most Maori now live in the cities, and will get their housing assistance through mainstream agencies.

But he says more could still be done in rural and provincial areas.

“In places like Wanganui, Hawkes Bay, East Coast there is land, but it’s also about some of our big incorporations thinking more laterally like the ones in Maniapoto who actually make the land available, back the deposit and get their people in and put their contribution out for 30 years or something like that,” Mr Horomia says.

He says Kiwisaver will help many Maori, because it offers the chance to save a deposit for a low cost first house.

WAITANGI HONGI JUST AN ITI THING

John Key is shaking off jibes about his Waitangi Day hongi with Tame Iti.

Winston Peters brandished a newspaper photograph of the greeting in Parliament, and questioned how the National Party could take a strong stand on crime when its leader was publicly consorting with someone facing serious firearms charges.

Mr Key says he's met the Tuhoe activist several times, and he's not ashamed of the greeting.

“I only had two options. One was completely cut the guy dead and walk past him, or acknowledge him in a way I thought was appropriate. I did the latter, and I don’t intend to bow down to Winston or anyone else for that,” Mr Key says.

WHITING WHARENUI STILL MEETS CHALLENGING BRIEF

It's one of the most-visited wharenui in the country, and one of the most original.

It's Te Hono ki Hawaiki in Wellington's Te Papa, and it's celebrating its tenth birthday this week.

The house was the work of Cliff Whiting, the museum's first kaihautu, whose radical design continues to make waves.

He says his brief was to create a multi functional facility for a multi cultural audience, and he thinks its success over the past decade shows that brief was met.

“That was the whole concept behind it but then of course you have to also understand that a marae have protocols that iwi were used to. The big challenge of course when I took it on was to make a marae for all people of New Zealand so it is not only for iwi but for all people,” Whiting says.

His sculptures can also be seen at the National Library and National Archives, the High Court in Christchurch, and many marae including Te Rau Aroha at Bluff.

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