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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Broadcasters help shape national identity

Maori broadcasting has become critical to the national identity.

That's the message Waitangi Tribunal chairperson Joe Williams had for the World Indigenous Television Broadcasting Conference in Auckland today.

The emergence of first Maori radio and more recently Maori Television was made possible by claims in the tribunal and the courts during the 1980s that the Crown had a duty to protect Maori language and culture.

Chief judge Williams says Maori broadcasting reflects a changing society.

“The demographic changes over the next generation and a half, maybe two generations mean that national identity, the success of the national project as well as the Maori project will depend on Maori broadcasting operations like Maori tv and Maori radio succeeding in being the facilitator of the interdependence between the Maori community and the wider community, being the platform on which that discussion is able to take place,” he says.

Williams says what is happening in Maori broadcasting is organic, with no state agency pulling strings.


Tuberculosis is a disease that is not going away for Maori in the Far North.

Jonathan Jarman, Northlands chief medical officer, says 15 cases were reported last year - half the previous year's total, but still a major concern.

Unlike the rest of the country where TB tends to be found in people coming from overseas, in Tai Tokerau it's a home grown problem, with a high number of Maori children affected.

Dr Jarman says early detection is critical, which requires strong primary healthcare systems.

“It is a problem for some of our patients to see a doctor. For example, if you have tuberculosis in women, they are more likely to be concerned about their children or about their husband and so they are the last one that will go and see a doctor. They may not have money. They many not have a car to get to a doctor,” Dr Jarman says.

People with untreated tuberculosis can become increasingly infections and pass on the disease to their children.


Maori police report a huge response to their recruitment roadshow.

Glen Mackey, the Maori responsiveness strategy manager, says the kanohi ki te kanohi, or face to face approach, is again proving the best way to connect with a Maori audience.

The Te Haerenga roadshow is in response to a wero from Ngati Porou kaumatua Api Mahuika.

“He was sitting on the paepae welcoming 80-odd UK police into the New Zealand police and he turned around and said ‘Hey, why are we going overseas when we haven’t done anything on our own back door step, yet,’ so Te Haerenga, we’re on the road now, aprt way through it, and we’ve had a brilliant response from everyone we’ve engaged with,” Mr Mackey says.

More than 60 people turned out for Te Haerenga in Tauranga last night. The blue crew will be in Gisborne tonight.


Maori landowners will be called on to play a role in the clean up of the Rotorua lakes.

The Government today pledged to pay half of the $144 million cost of the lakes restoration programme.

The rest will come from Rotorua District Council and Environment Bay of Plenty.

Mita Ririnui, the Waiariki-based Labour list MP, says the money will go on sewerage projects, the creation of wetlands and weed removal, but there will also be land use changes.

He says Maori trusts and incorporations who farm around the lakes are committed to supporting the project.

“Maori in the area have always been responsive to the issue of water quality to the extent we’re probably looking at the way we farm our lands. We’re looking at better farming practices,” Mr Ririnui says.

The restoration is likely to take 10 years.


The government has been rapped on the knuckles for ignoring the United Nations day for the elimination of racism.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of Maori and Pacific studies at Canterbury University, says New Zealand has always found it hard to admit to the wider world the historical racism in this country.

He says despite the work done through the claim process to address past injustices, the day designated to draw attention to racism worldwide passed unmarked here.

“As a country we did absolutely nothing. (The government) always steps away from saying ‘hey, the history of the country with respect to Maori is one that reflects racism.’ It all has to do with historical racism and the sooner we’re able to front up to that and participate in those sorts of occasions, the sooner we’ll get to better solutions,” Mr Taonui says.


An old school swimming pool has been put to good use at Rhode Street School in Hamilton.

The school, whose roll is 80 percent Maori, converted the pool into a greenhouse as part of its Sustainable Kids pilot programme funded by the Ministry for Social Development.

It's also put in 10 vegetable gardens, an orchard, a commercial kitchen and hydroponic tables.

Shane Ngatai, the principal, says pupils are learning life skills and sustainability by growing, harvesting, cooking, preserving, dehydrating, marketing and selling their kai.

They also learn traditional Maori growing methods.

“We've got our heirloom vegetables like our Maori potoatoes, kamokamo and corn, so they’re learning the old Maori ways of preserving as well by using salt and wind, by pickling with our watercress and they’re also planting by the matariki calendar,” Mr Ngatai says.

The pupils are also learning about medicinal plants, and are making soap and conditioners out of herbs.


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