Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Whanau walk away from shoddy housing

The chair of Ngati Kahungunu is warning the government's affordable housing plans will fail if building standards aren't improved.

The Government has proposed a range of measures to boost the housing supply, including using Crown land and entering public-private partnerships with developers.

Ngahiwi Tomoana says his Hawke's Bay iwi has attempted to work with government agencies and the private sector for more than 20 years to house its people.

It's learned a lot about what doesn't work for Maori, and why.

He says an iwi survey some years ago of low cost housing in Flaxmere found 60 percent needed to be repaired within their first five years, and 10 percent reached a chronic state within that time.

“Now if you're struggling just to pay the mortgage and pay the increase in rates and suddenly you’ve got repair bills, people walk. They throw up their hands and rather give whatever equity they’ve got in the house away than flog a dead horse or a rotting horse,” Mr Tomoana says.

Maori are keen to work with government on housing, but the response has never been satisfactory.


Te Papa Tongarewa is celebrating its tenth birthday today.

Arapata Hakiwai, the national museum's acting kaihautu and director of Matauranga Maori, says it started with a vision of being a bi-cultural taonga for all people, and it's succeeded.

Highlights of the decade include repatriating moko mokai and other Maori remains from institutions around the world, the iwi exhibitions, Matariki celebrations and education programmes for kura.

He says other institutions could learn from Te Papa's bi-cultural management model of Te Papa's management was something other orgnisations could learn from.

“It's one of the only ones in New Zealand that I know we have a shared bicultural leadership structure, we have a chief executive and a kaihautu who share the strategic leadership, and many of our policies and practices go in line with that and I think it’s part of the difference,” Mr Hakiwai says.

He says Te Papa has succeeded in attracting a larger number of Maori to visit the museum.


There's another significant anniversary today.

On this day in 1915, 500 Maori soldiers left Wellington for Egypt aboard the SS Warimoo, the first formal contribution of Maori troops to a foreign war.

Monty Souter from the Tairawhiti museum, an authority on Maori military history, says British commanders had reservations about natives fighting alongside British soldiers.

But the need for reinforcements and developments in India prompted a change of heart.

“Indian troops were recruited for the British army and they were accepted so the New Zealand government couldn’t very well use that as a reason to keep Maori troops from serving as part of the New Zealand force that was going overseas,” Dr Souter says.

Most of the soldiers were from Te Arawa, Ngati Porou and North Auckland, because Maori leaders in Waikato and Taranaki opposed enlistment as a protest against land confiscation.


A tohunga of the Maori art world says Maori artists must continue to work on marae.

Cliff Whiting, whose work graces houses at Turangawaewae, Te Papa and many marae through the country, says marae are still the best places where the whole range of Maori art forms can be combined.

He's still working on marae at Kaikoura and in the Manawatu, and says Maori artists have an obligation to use their skills where they are needed most.

“That has real meaning because it really is the glue that holds everything together. If we lose all of thiose interconnected art forms and the way in which they interact with one another, then I think we would have lost the essence of what our culture is about,” Whiting says.


International scrutiny can make a difference in the battle for human rights.

That's the word from Andrea Carmen of the International Indian Treaty Council, who's been consulting Maori about the anti terrorism raid on Ruatoki last year.

The IITC represents tangata whenua in in the Americas and across the Pacific.

It has consultative status within the United Nations which gives it a voice in international human rights bodies.

Ms Carmen says the Maori representative on the council requested an investigation of the government's behaviour towards Tuhoe.

She says it’s crucial to monitor treaty breaches and violations of the rights of indigenous populations.

“Countries like to point the finger at everybody else. They don’t like their own violations to be pointed out. So it does create a pressure and an effect on them when they know that they are being charged with human rights violations and their actions are under scrutiny,” Ms Carmen says.

She says the New Zealand Government needs to recognise the UN's Declaration of Indigenous Rights.


Love is all around today, including in Maori lore.

Jock Phillips, the editor of New Zealand's online encyclopedia, Te Ara, says the site includes a large number of Maori love stories.

Tales about gods and ancestors like Papatuanuku and Ranginui or Mauao and Puwhenua help explain the origins of iwi, and leave their mark in landmarks around the country.

Dr Phillips says Pakeha don't tend to be as romantic.

“For Maori, there’s no question that love makes the world go round, that actually there is a whole series of famous love stories, but for Pakeha New Zealanders, it’s really hard to find those mythic love stories that are the beginnings of traditions or the things we fantasise about and remember,” Dr Phillips says.

Te Arawa's tale of Hinemoa's night swim to her lover Tutanekai on Mokoia Island is one of New Zealands greatest Valentine tales.


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