Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Geothermal power circle of life

The Maori owners of a Taupo steamfield say there's more than enough there to drive a second geothermal power station.

Tauhara North Number 2 Trust is in a joint venture with Mighty River Power to build a $450 million station at Rotokawa.

Aroha Campbell, the trust's chief executive, says the original Rotokawa plant has been running smoothly for more than ten years.

She says geothermal power isn't subject to the same climactic risk as hydro schemes.

“It's renewable and because the resource will be reinjected and over time used again, that it has that circle of life,” Ms Campbell says.

The joint venture aims to break ground next month, once procurement contracts are sorted out.


Retiring Labour MP Dover Samuels has lashed out at what he calls sewage politics becoming part of the political discourse.

The Northland list MP was suspended as Maori affairs minister in 2000 because of what the prime minister said were allegations swirling around him of an historic relationship with a staff member at his Matauri Bay motel.

An investigation cleared him, but his subsequent ministerial appointments were outside Cabinet.

Mr Samuels says he bears Helen Clark no ill will ... and she has also faced denigrating attacks about her family and private life which have become all too common.

“That is a sad state of affairs for New Zealand politics, and I hope the next generation of politicians would not even go there, would not even entertain that type of attitude and make that type of comments in the House or outside the House and I think it is cowardly to raise those issues in Parliament, in the debating chamber, in the house of representatives when you know you’ve got parliamentary privilege protecting you, because you’d never say it outside,” he says.

Mr Samuels says Helen Clark is one of the best political leaders he has worked with.


A week at the Australian Performing Arts Market has convinced a Maori arts administrator that Maori artists have some clear advantages on their indigenous counterparts.

James Ashcroft, the Creative Director of Taki Rua Productions. says it was a change to gauge how the Wellington company stacks up internationally.

He says Australian companies are still trying to build up an audience.

“In terms of Maori theatre, I think we’re very lucky in that we’ve been able to have access to stages and audience nationwide and there’s actually a need from audiences, both urban and rural, Maori and Pakeha alike to view and share in those stories, so I think we’re very lucky,” Mr Ashcroft says.

Taki Rua is keen to send some of its productions across the Tasman, such as the Second World War drama Strange Resting Places.


A Maori coroner says Maori culture is not to blame in a series of high profile body snatching cases.

The acting chief coroner is recommending a law change to make coroners responsible for all tupapaku.

This means they can hang on to bodies if disputes arise about burial arrangements, and attempt to mediate between family members.

Brandt Shortland of Nga Puhi, the coroner for Te Taitokerau, says it's about family members not being able to communicate with each other.

“It's not about Maori and it’s not about culture. It’s about the break down in communication between family, whanau. And as we know tikanga-wise, when one whanau comes to challenge another whanau for tupapaku, under tikanga there’s a way of resolving this where the kaumatua meet and they talk and they greet and they debate, they tend to find a way to resolve it so everyone’s happy, and that’s how it’s been for hundreds of years,” Mr Shortland says.

His most recent dispute over a body involved a completely Pakeha whanau.


A veteran Maori social worker says changes in the law regarding young people need to be accompanied by new approaches to social work.

The Government is bringing 17 year olds into the jurisdiction of the Youth Court, to comply with international human rights obligations.

Malcolm Perry worked for the Social Welfare Department's maatua whangai programme in the 1980s when the Children And Young Persons Act was first brought in.

He says the original bill offered hope that Maori communities could take responsibility for wayward children... but the promised programmes to reinvigorate whanau and hapu did not eventuate.

“While the object of the Act was helping Maori family and Maori systems to respond with ability, the authority or the empowerment didn’t come with that Act and as a consequence we are not different than we were before,” Mr Perry says.

Any reform of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act will have an impact on Maori children.


Outspoken Labour MP Dover Samuels says he needs to get out of Parliament while he's still got his health.

The Northland-based MP is entered Parliament in 1996 on Labour's list, and then held the Tai Tokerau seat for two terms.

He says he's had a good run, and while he's pushing a young 70, a slide is inevitable.

“I've got all my marbles with me and the family jewels and healthy and looking at 10 years ahead I think I’ll spend time with my son and my family on the Sunshine Coast,” Mr Samuels says.

He's got over the events which led to his departure from Cabinet in 2000, and he rates Helen Clark as one of the best political leaders he has been associated with.


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