Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, March 10, 2008

Path to seat paved in party riches

The Maori Party's Ikaroa Rawhiti candidate is looking forward to a big team and a decent budget for this year's election.

In 1999 Derek Fox came within 695 votes of stopping Parekura Horomia winning the seat.

The veteran broadcaster says in that election he was fighting a tide coming in for Labour across the country, he was standing as an independent with no party machine, and he had just over a month between announcing his candidacy and election day.

“This time there's the support of a party so there’s the opportunity for billboards and other party support which we never had last time. Last time it was just handful of people, driving around the electorate talking to people, didn’t have any campaign funds apart from what I was able to borrow from the bank,” Mr Fox says.

He won't be attacking the sitting MP, but will ask voters whether the seat should be held by a party based on tikanga Maori or by a non-Maori Party.


A leading Maori public health specialist says the low quality of life many Maori experience is reflected in high rates of mental disorder.

Lorna Dyall from Auckland University's faculty of medical and health sciences says Schizophrenia Awareness Week is a good opportunity to look at the wider issues affecting mental heath, such as poverty and substance abuse.

She says about half of Maori people will have a period of mental ill health, ranging from anxiety and mood disorders to a full fledged illness.

That raises questions about the lives they lead.

“What is the quality of life that most Maori people have in New Zealand? What is the quality of life for our young people, for those in their middle years, and for those in their elder years? Most of us don’t actually have a great quality of life. We live in poverty, we live under stress, our families are under stress and trauma, and we experience poor health,” Ms Dyall says.

While Maori have a high rate of mental diagnosis, they tend to seek treatment outside the system ... or just get on with life.


Rotorua wahine took International Women's Day seriously this year.

The Waiariki branch of the Maori Women’s Welfare League hosted a breakfast yesterday to look at the role of women in society.

Branch president Merlene Tahata says there were some inspirational messages from the speaker, chief human rights commissioner Rosslyn Noonan, especially for the large group from Rotorua Girls High School who represent the league's future.

“Whether it's education, whether it’s their own background, their whakapapa, their iwi base, hapu base, they’re the ones that have to promote that and go with it, and that’s what we encourage them to do and that’s what Ms Noonan said, follow your dreams and work to the highest of your potential,” Ms Tahata says.

She says the league is encouraging more women to run for boards and councils in their communities.


Derek Fox is promising a clean campaign to wrest Ikaroa Rawhiti from Parekura Horomia.

The veteran broadcaster has been confirmed as the Maori Party candidate for the East Coast seat, barring an appeal by 2005 candidate Atareta Poananga.

Since Mr Fox missed out on the seat in 1999 by 695 votes, he spent some time as the Government-appointed chair of Maori Television, and has also done consultancy work for the Maori affairs minister and the Ministry for Maori Development.

He says blood is thicker than water.

“I certainly don't intend saying anything offensive about my whanaunga. I just don’t do that. I don’t intend bagging him. I really do see this as just a philosophical struggle, the struggle being should Ikaroa Rawhiti be held by a Maori party that is based on Maori philosophy and tikanga that is aimed to advance Maori hopes and aspirations as opposed to being held by a political party that is driven not by Maori but by some other philosophy,” Mr Fox says.


She's enrolled in a seat her party says shouldn't exist.

That's the challenge faced by National list MP Georgina te Heuheu.

As one of the party's spokespeople on Maori affairs, she's backing National's policy of scrapping the Maori seats after historical treaty claims are settled - probably in six years.

Until then, she intends to stay enrolled in the Waiariki electorate.

Mrs te Heuheu says she never questioned where she would be signed on.

“It provides me with another avenue to affirm my Maoriness. Now, if the Maori electorate wasn’t there, I wouldn’t feel less Maori, but looking at it in a positive way, I’m on that roll because to my mind it affirms the fact that I am Maori,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

She says if all Maori gave their party votes to the Maori Party, it could remain in Parliament without winning any electorates.


A taonga puoro master says he's been reduced to tears by what's coming out of a collaboration between players of the traditional Maori and Irish instruments.

Richard Nunns has been rehearsing with Irish bouzouki player Donal Lunny and other musicians in preparation for next weekend's appearance at Womad in New Plymouth.

He says the Greenfire Islands project exceeded his expectations.

“There's genuine, the word I use is raranga, there’s genuine weaving going on that I think would be very hard for people, regardless if they know anything about Irish music, it will be very hard for people not to be bound up in this extraordinary occasion, and I’m absolutely amazed and of course thrilled to be part of it,” Mr Nunns says.


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