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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rotorua lakes’ clean-up gets funding

Cleaning up the Rotorua Lakes is going to take a huge effort from Maori and Pakeha alike.

The Government has committed to fund half of the estimated $144 million price tag to restore the health of the region's dozen or so lakes.

The rest will come from Rotorua District Council and Environment Bay of Plenty, with Te Arawa Lakes Trust also helping to oversee the decade-long project.

Mita Ririnui, Labour's Waiariki-based list MP, says everyone has a stake in its success.

“From a Te Arawa perspective, the lakes are considered to be a taonga tuku ihoa passed down from their forebears, and for the nation as a whole, Rotorua is considered to be the home or the centre point of a lot of our tourism. So the quality of the water and particularly the lakes is a key issue in terms of our clean green image,” he says.

As well as upgrading sewerage and building wetlands to filter farm run-off, the region's farmers, who include many Maori trusts and incorporations, may have to change the way they operate.

EXERCISE INITIATIVE GETTING MAORI ACTIVE

The manager of the national Push Play programme says it is having a positive impact on Maori communities.

The programme challenges children and adults to maintain a daily exercise regime.

Deb Hurdle from Sport and Recreation New Zealand, or Sparc, says too many Maori show up on the negative side of health statistics because of poor diets and little exercise.

“Physical activity can make a really positive impact on some of those health risk factors and I think that’s really important for Maori because statistically some of those conditions are high in Maori and if we can find an easier way to get rid of them and not just have to pump people full of drugs, the I think we should try and follow that path,” Ms Hurdle says.

HOETE DRAWS ON AUNTIES FOR INSPIRATION

A return home has inspired Te Arawa actor Grace Hoete to record the stories of the aunties in her life.

She's using a three month performing artist residency in Rotorua to overhaul her play, Sisters Wha.

Hoete says the challenge is to blend Maori mahi toi with western theatre forms.

She wants to find new ways to describe the experiences of Maori wahine like her mother and aunties.

“We see too many negative roles for Maori women being shown on TV and we’re kind of stereotyped and cast, but we’re complex characters. We’re very complex and interesting beings, and I want to show that there is many different facets to us. We’re a diamond basically with a lot of different facets, and that’s how I want to portray our aunties,” Hoete says.

She hopes to premiere the play in Rotorua early next year.

NO NEED FOR TREATY TO JUSTIFY MAORI TELEVISION

The chair of the Waitangi Tribunal says Maori broadcasting has outgrown its roots in treaty settlements.

The Tribunal's Te Reo Report in 1986 laid the foundation for the establishment of state-funded Maori radio and television as a way to protect and revive Maori language and culture.

Joe Williams told the World Indigenous Television Broadcasting Conference in Auckland that Maori broadcasting was now about numbers, not policy.

“The demographics mean that Maori Television would be necessary anyway, that the time is right. The treaty provided a basis for its development in the 80s. But I suspect that even without it, the place of Maori in the country is such a burning issue, treaty or no treaty, there would be a need and a justification for a Maori television channel and for Maori radio,” Chief Judge Williams says.

Maori broadcasters will make an essential contribution to the development of New Zealand's national identity in the years ahead.

TRADE TRAINING TO FOCUS ON MARAE

Marae in the Wairarapa will get much-needed facelifts from a new trade training programme.

Wairarapa District Councilor Edwin Perry says 13 workers nominated by their marae will work on restoration projects over the next three years.

The Ministry of Social Development is funding the $600,000 Nga Kanohi project, which is overseen by the Council.

Mr Perry, who also heads the Wairarapa Maori wardens, says every marae in the region has been surveyed.

“We know priority wise which ones need work. First may be the wharepaku. Then it may be the kai area. What we’re trying to do is build this training programme up around the marae, get them knowing what their marae stands for,” he says.

Because the workers representing their marae and hapu, he expects they will be more committed to the task than if they were participating as individuals.

TARANAKI RAISES TEAMS FOR WAKA AMA CHAMPS

Waka ama is winning converts among Taranaki teenagers.

Howie Tamati from Sports Taranaki says six of the region's secondary schools now field teams.

That means there's enough kai hoe available for the province to be represented at next week's national secondary school waka ama championships on Lake Karapiro.

“We're taking away 12 teams to the nationals, which is the first time ever for Taranaki waka ama. It’s great to be able to go down on Thursday night and see all the secondary school kids on the water in a sport that is predominantly Maori and Pacific Island,” Mr Tamati says.

Almost 600 teams will compete at the nationals.

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