Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, March 17, 2008

Maori stay away from nursing course

The number of Maori studying nursing in Canterbury has plummeted.

Only three of the 114 students in the February intake for Canterbury Polytechnic's Bachelor of Nursing are Maori.

Hector Matthews, the director of Maori and Pacific health on the Canterbury District Health Board, says that's a concern for industry leaders wanting to improve Maori health outcomes.

He says the problems start well before rangatahi enter tertiary study.

“A lot of Maori kids will drop science at the first opportunity in year and immediately a lot of doors are closed to them in a whole lot of levels in health so that’s an area we need to concentrate on at whanau level and school level,” Mr Matthews says.


The Government wants to boost the number of Maori and Pacific island people signing up to Kiwisaver.

In the first six months of the scheme only about 10 percent of those who joined are Maori, and 5 percent Pacific Island,

That's below their proportion of the total population.

The Retirement Commissioner, Diana Crossan, says Maori whanau tend to be younger and in the lower income brackets, so they may have been put off by the contribution levels.

“We certainly need to do things. The government has just announced a 2 percent possibility for people to join Kiwisaver. Up until now you have to join with 4 percent of your income, and they recognise there is a lot of people who may not be able to access it,” Ms Crossan says.


Maori on the East Coast are celebrating a return to cropping their land.

The trend has been encouraged by scientists from Crop & Food Research, who have been helping with seed stock and advice on organic growing of plants like kumara, Maori potatoes, white corn and kamokamo.

Scientist Huub Kerckhoffs says when the project started five years ago, there were few gardens in the area.

“Drive all the way the Hicks Bay and you could not see any evidence of cropping It was really sad because a lot of people were saying it was a major area of cropping and kumara gardens and it was quite a reality check for a lot of people,. They were saying how can we go back to that mindset where people can see the opportunity for themselves in a whanau and get back to cropping and make a decent living out of it,” Dr Kerckhoffs says.

The growers are getting ready for the first East Coast organic festival in Tolaga Bay at the end of the month, which will celebrate the region and the International Year of the Potato.


A poverty campaigner is backing Ron Mark's claims there is a crisis in the supply of state rental housing.

The New Zealand First MP says a Christchurch family was told to move to a campground because there were no houses available.

Alan Johnson from the Child Poverty Action Group says there's a shortage of state houses, and Housing New Zealand's solution is to push tenants towards private rental.

He says despite the rhetoric of caring for people, the Labour-led government has refused to spend its surpluses on those who need it most.

The bulk of the benefits have gone to middle class people by way of Kiwisaver, Working for Families and also the superannuation thing. The whole superannuation thing, if you think about the inequity it represents to Maori. To benefit from the superannuation scheme, you actually got to live long enough. Most Maori don’t. So there is an equity issue in the fact we’re saving money for a future many people won't have,” Mr Johnson says.

He says the government should go back to training Maori school leavers in the building trade... and use them to replenish the state housing stock.


A life member of Black Power says a proposed bill to allow councils to ban gang patches is a silly diversion from the real issues.

Wanganui MP Chester Borrows, a former police officer, will present the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill to Parliament.

Dennis O'Reilly, who set up gang liaison programmes in the 1980s, says beating up on gangs is a popular election year tactic.

He says it ignores the problems that are driving youth crime and gang recruitment.

“Fifty percent of Maori boys are leaving school without their NCEA level ones in English and math. The Maori population in jails is three to one compared to other New Zealanders. These are the big issues. This other stuff is just sort of like the little pimple. What's going on in the deeper body?” Mr O'Reilly says.

There are already laws on the books which allow police to crack down on gang members who intimidate members of the public.


A Maori singer songwriter has come home for inspiration.

Jayson Norris from Tai Tokerau has been living in London since 2004.
He's developed a loyal following there for his Pacific roots acoustic music.

But he's back to eat kaimoana and show off his new album Basket of Knowledge, which features many Kiwi and Maori themes.

“One of them is for my grandfather, who fought in the Second World War, the 28 Maori Battalion. I do a version of E Papa. There’s a song called Kumi Road, which is my old road backup in Awanui, so definitely influenced by my upbringing and my Maori side,” he says.

Jayson Norris is currently on an Acoustic Lounge Tour with Jason Kerrison from Opshop


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