Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Maori suicide rate stays up

A new five-year strategy on suicide prevention includes a big push for more Maori research.

Merryn Statham, from Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand, says the government's action plan will promote mental health and well-being, improve the care of people who survive suicide attempts, and try to change the way the media and entertainment industries handle suicide stories.

She says there's also concern that while the overall suicide rate has dropped by 19 percent in the past decade, too many Maori are still killing themselves.

“We've still got too many people dying by suicide and unfortunately we haven’t seen the same decrease for Maori communities as we have in other areas of the community and that’s why there’s such a real focus this time on how can we actually get the same decrease looking at Maori populations as we have for Pakeha communities,” Ms Statham says.

New resources will be available later in the year to help Maori communities reduce suicides.

KAUMATUAS’ WORK ACKNOWLEDGED IN SCHOLARSHIP

The Ministry of Health is acknowledging the work of four now-deceased elders in bringing Maori concepts into the health system.

It's dedicating its new Te Apa Mareikura scholarships to the late Rongo Wirepa from Ngati Porou, Anne Delamere from Te Whanau a Apanui, Te Arawa, Denis Simpson from Ngati Awa and Bill Katene from Ngati Toa Rangatira.

Students who have a track record in community health and proven leadership ability can apply for the two $10,000 scholarships before April 11.

Mita Ririnui, the Associate Minister of Health, says the four kaumatua showed how community leadership could improve the health of Maori.

“We thought it very important to acknowledge their contributions by launching these important scholarships in their names so that their work is continued and not forgotten,” Mr Ririnui says.

Other Hauora Maori Scholarships have been boosted to cover expected tuition fee increases.

TUATARA NEED MAINLAND SANCTUARIES TO BE VISIBLE

There should be more mainland tuatara sanctuaries.

That's the view of Lindsay Hazley, the tuatara curator at the Southland Museum.

He says it's one of the living taonga of Aotearoa and a link to the distant past, yet few New Zealanders have seen one because they're mostly on predator-free island sanctuaries.

“It's very fine having island sanctuaries but people never get to see these island sanctuaries. They don’t have access. But creating mainland sanctuaries, fencing them off, getting rid of the vermin and reintroducing small sections back to the native state,” Mr Hazley says.

MAORI MONEY GOING TO RUGBY CLUBS

National's Maori Affairs spokesperson says the Ministry of Maori Development is wasting money on rugby clubs.

Georgina te Heuheu says a review of Te Puni Kokiri's financial performance shows the ministry doesn't have much of a plan.

She says the select committee looked closely at grants for developing Maori potential in knowledge, resources and leadership.

“We found their spending to be pretty ad hoc, sometimes no rhyme or reason as to why they’d allocated grants under certain heads and often times it was a sort of scatter gun approach that if you throw enough money around, maybe something good will happen. Well of course that doesn't happen,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

The grants include several to rugby clubs, which she says is not the business of the Ministry for Maori Development.

AGGRESSIVE BABYFOD FIRMS ALARM RESEARCHER

A Maori health researcher is comparing the tactics of baby food companies with the tobacco industry.

Marewa Glover from Auckland University's school of population health says Maori babies are more likely than other Kiwi babies to be artificially fed from birth.

She says like big tobacco, the baby food companies push their product despite clear evidence of its negative health effects.

“They're allowed to advertise and they’re allowed to market their products and give away free samples and they are pushing this artificial milk baby powder and also they’re pushing baby foods onto women top feed their babies solids way earlier than recommended by the World Health Organisation,” Dr Glover says.

The new Government strategy on breastfeeding launched today highlights concern about aggressive promotion of infant formula.

ARIANA TIKAO COMBINES ALBUM PROMOTION WITH RESIDENCY

Kai Tahu singer Ariana Tikao is off to see the world.

Her bilingual album, Tuia, has been released this month, following on from her 2002 effort Whaea.

The former Pounamu singer is off to London next week with husband Ross to promote the disc and take up a Te Waka Toi residency at the University of London.

She's following in the footsteps of musicians like Moana and Wai, who have shown there is an international market for music in Maori.

"We're out there representing Aotearoa when we go away, and especially for te reo Maori artists, we don’t quite get the recognition here that some people have been getting overseas and sometimes it takles a bit of going overseas before that mahi is actually honoured,” Tikao says.

She's taken up playing taonga puoro, inspired by the sounds of traditional instruments that Richard Nunns contributed to Tuia.

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