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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Race relations seen as positive

New Zealanders are optimistic about race relations.

That's the finding of a new report issued by the Human Rights Commission.

Five years ago relations between the races was the top negative in the commission's annual survey of what issues are concerning New Zealanders, but this year it's the top positive.

Joris de Bres, the race relations commissioner, says it's a good result.

“The mood of the nation poll indicates that in 2007 it wasn’t an issue that was causing great anxiety and in fact it was an issue that people were optimistic about. The most optimistic of the issues listed. And that doesn’t mean that people are complacent. But it does mean they have confidence that things are heading in the right direction and things are getting better in race relations,” Mr de Bres says.

There are still significant problems with under-representation of Maori and Pacific Island people in governance bodies such as councils, health boards and school boards.

WALL TAKES SEAT WITH ENDORSEMENT FROM TOP

A big thumbs up for Labour's newest MP from the top.

Louisa Wall from Tainui and Ngati Tuwharetoa took her seat in Parliament today, replacing retiring list MP Anne Hartley.

Prime Minister Helen Clark says the grit she showed representing New Zealand in Netball and Rugby as a Silver and Black Fern will be an asset to Labour's team.

“She brings those qualities of absolute dedication to getting to the top of whatever she does and I’ve known her for a number of years because she’s been a member of the Labour Party in my own electorate and I know that she’s just got a great sense of humour, a good work ethic, and she’s passionate about what she believes in,” Ms Clark says.

Lousia Wall will contest Tamaki Makaurau at this year's election.

MAURI STONE GIVEN NEW HOME

Part of the early heritage of a Taranaki iwi is now on public display.

A mauri stone uncovered in 2004 during the building of a by-pass at Bell Block has been placed beneath the Te Pou-Tutaki pole in Fitzroy.

A viewing shaft allows people to see the 50 kg stone, which archaeologists say was beleived to preserve the welfare of the occupants of a house.

Grant Knuckey, from Puketapu iwi, says several houses had been built on top of the mauri.

He says it revealed itself.

“It was certainly found in a way that it kind of uncloaked itself when they were excavating. Directly on top of it was a hole that I suppose was where the centre post of the meeting house came out of,” Mr Knuckey says.

MANAGEMENT FAILURE FORCES BELATED CANWEST BUY-IN

A Ngati Whatua director says the iwi sold Mai FM because of the failure of a management buy-in to turn around the station's fortunes.

The station, which uses an FM frequency reserved for Maori under the broadcasting claim settlement, shocked the Auckland market when it topped the ratings in 2002 with its youth-oriented music format and its message of it's cool to korero.

But it was never able to translate ratings into advertising dollars, and competitors like Niu and Flava chipped away at its young brown audience.

Now it's sold the brand to CanWest MediaWorks, owner of TV3 and several national radio brands, for an undisclosed sum.

Russell Kemp from Mai Media says CanWest has been trying to buy in for some time.

“About a year and a half ago we wanted to sell half of it off to CanWest. The management of Mai FM or the staff thought they could put a package deal to present to us. They did that. We accepted it. And then another eight months down the track they decided to pull back. So we went back to CanWest and did a counter deal,” Mr Kemp says.

The Ngati Whatua Runanga will retain its frequencies and lease some to CanWest.

MARAE DIGIPOLL A NONSENSE

The Prime Minister is dismissing the latest in a string of bad polls as complete nonsense.

A Marae Digipoll showed the Maori Party would hold all seven Maori seats after the next election, with candidates getting support on average from 56 percent of voters.

Helen Clark says she's not taking it seriously.

“They had 665 people they said were on the Maori rolls. They then put those people into seven seats. That’s an average of 95 voters per seat. The margin of error would be, I’m told, at least 11 to 19 percent. At that point, you don’t have a poll. You have a nonsense,” Ms Clark says.

She says the only thing clear from the poll was that the majority of Maori voters are still satisfied with Labour's performance.

WAKATU FINDS HOME COOKING TASTES BEST

A Nelson-based Maori trust is crediting its success on staying close to home.

Wakatu Incorporation's 3200 shareholders are descendents of Ngati Koata, Ngati Rarua, Ngati Tama and Te Atiawa.

Its chief executive, Keith Palmer says it understands the needs of the top of the South Island well, and it has developed its businesses to fit.

He says its latest plan, a lifestyle subdivision for over 60s, fits in with that philosophy.

“We started off by subdividing our own land. Then we bought other land to put into residential subdivisions. We bought a freezing works and made and industrial subdivision from that, and then from there we’ve just competed an office building. Now the lifestyle is just another stage in that evolution as we build up our expertise in property development,” Mr Palmer says.

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