Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wai fight shaping up

The fight for water rights could rival the battle over the foreshore and seabed.

Green MP Metiria Turei says water allocation could turn into a major election issue for Maori.

It's is already causing ructions in the South Island, where Central Plains Water has applied to draw water from the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers for irrigation.

Ms Turei says the Government's policy is to put central and local government in charge of natural resources, with no voice for Maori interests.

“We've got to continue to argue for the Maori right to be involved in decision-making over natural resources that they were guaranteed would be protected and retained in their care under the treaty, and it’s a fair argument to make,” Ms Turei says.

She says the current system encourages the commercialisation of water and ignores other cultural ideas such as kaitiakitanga or guardianship.


National is counting on picking up between 10 and 15 percent of the Maori vote in this year's election.

That's a big jump on 2005, when the party polled fourth in the seven Maori electorates, picking up less than 4 percent of the party vote.
Tau Henare, its Maori co-spokesperson, says the party's polling is showing a positive trend in the Maori vote.

“Ten, 12, 15 cent of Maori are going to vote for National. I mean that’s based on the polls. It’s ours to lose, quite frankly, and we’ve just got to make sure we’re out there on the stump and saying the right things, offering people the opportunity to have a look at National and all its policies as well,” Mr Henare says.

He says the advent of the Maori Party has helped National by giving Maori a choice which isn't Labour.


A waahi tapu on the coast near Napier could become a public reserve.

Marama Laurenson, the Hastings District Council's heritage advisor, says the land is part of a subdivision, but the landowner is prepared to sell.

She says the council's Maori committee is looking at developing a reserve management plan.

“We're just beginning negotiations, they’re going quite well, and we’re awaiting further input from the whanau about the provenance and value of those sites to them so that we can acknowledge them properly so we’re just having discussions with the landowners to see how far we can get with establishing a reserve strategy,” Ms Laurensen says.

Whanau from nearby Tangoio Marae says the three hectare block includes a former pa and a canoe landing site.


The new chair of Te Wananga o Aotearoa is looking for innovation and controlled growth.

Richard Batley from Ngati Maniapoto is an accountant with long service in Maori and public service organisations.

He was elected unopposed to the post today, filling the vacancy created when Craig Coxhead was been appointed to the Maori Land Court.

The wananga has come out of a period of Crown management, imposed after rapid growth raised concerns about its financial and organisational infrastructure.

Mr Batley says it's now poised to resume growth.

“We need to continue to be innovative in a controlled fashion. I have spoken to my council on what my vision is for the organisation and it is actually one of controlled expansion. I do not want to hinder innovation at all,” Mr Batley says.

The wananga is considering a greater investment in trade training.


A shot across the bows for the water traders.

Ngai Tahu's chairperson says he's concerned at the way the Government's national plan of action on water is tackling long term water rights.

He says a lot of the work he has seen is idealogically dry, with a push on for tradable rights.

“The government has come out stating no one owns the water, and we could accept that, but if there is going to be a model where the water allocation becomes a transferable property right, then certainly we will have our hand up asking where is our share,” Mr Solomon says.

The issue of water ownership was specifically left out of the Ngai Tahu settlement.


Maori musical history is being revisited in Wellington this week.

The Tama Tu Tama Ora concert, part of the International Festival of the Arts, brings back some of the songs from the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Organiser Wharehoka Wano says it was a dynamic period which included the birth of Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa and Wananga, the emergence of Maori health providers and a Maori radio and television industry.

He says the music captured the renaissance and voiced Maori political and social aspirations.

“As our musicians in kai waiata and kai tito did traditionally, it was our musicians that recorded a lot of our history in their song,” Mr Wano says.

Tama Tu, Tama Ora is on at the Pacific Blue Festival Club in Frank Kitts Park this Thursday and Friday.


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