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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, March 07, 2008

Seat plan shows ignorance of Maori

The Maori Party says National's leader needs to learn more about Maori before he talks about abolishing the Maori seats.

John Key says National will move to scrap the seven seats once historical treaty claims are settled ... which he believes will happen in six years.

Peter Sharples, the Maori Party co-leader, says separate Maori representation goes to the heart of what makes New Zealand unique.

“It's very difficult for many of the MPs who are not Maori to understand the concept of tangata whenua, and what it means to be tangata whenua. It simply means a thousand and a half years of living in this place, adapting to it, having a relationship, spiritual, cultural and physical, with the environment here and growing up with the forests and everything, and knowing your whakapapa, knowing your ancestors, knowing the battles, knowing all the things about your history which is unwritten, untaught in the schools, but we have that whole heritage,” Dr Sharples says.

He says there is no connection between historical claims and the Maori seats.

SCHOLARSHIPS BOOST RANGATAHI INTO ARTWORLD

A scholarship for young Maori artists is being credited with accelerating the careers of many rangatahi.

The Maori arm of Creative New Zealand is seeking applicants for the $4000 dollar grant, which in the past has gone to visual artists like Israel Birch, Amy Ratana and Shannon Wafer.

Haniko Te Kurapa, the Maori arts advisor for Te Waka Toi, says while it's not a big sum, the scholarship gives them valuable recognition.

“It's bringing the emerging artists into mainstream galleries whereas once upon a time you probably wouldn’t even consider them as being up and coming artists. Also the opportunity for them to go overseas to seek out professional development in their artform,” Mr Te Kurapa says.

The two scholarships can go to rangatahi involved in a wide range of arts or art support.

TRIBAL TRUFFLES AIM OF TRUST

A Rotorua tribal farmer is breaking new ground....literally.
Ngati Whakaue Lands Trust has 4000 oak trees to encourage truffle growth.

The rare fungus fetches up to $3000 a kilo in Europe and the United States.

Rick Vallance, the trust's chief executive, says truffle production could be an environmentally friendly way to use land next to the region's lakes.

“If it goes as well as we hope, it will be way better than sheep and beef faring for sure, and probably at least as good as dairy farming, maybe a bit better,” Mr Vallance says.

The fungus can take years to emerge, but Ngati Whakaue believes it has the right soils and expertise to succeed.

WETERE GETS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

A former minister of Maori Affairs is being honoured for his contribution to Maori in a ceremony in Ngaruawahia tonight.

The Maori academic excellence awards at Turangawaewae Marae brings together outstanding scholars from all the nation's universities.

The lifetime achievement award, Te Tohu Whakamaharatanga ki Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu, will go to Koro Tainui Wetere, who held the Western Maori seat for Labour from 1969 to 1996.

The awards manager, Herearoha Skipper, says it's a reminder that Maori don't just measure achievement in academic terms.

“The lifetime achievement award goes to someone that’s done just as much commitment and sacrifice and dedication, not only in education excellence but also within the community and iwi,” Ms Skipper says.

Mr Wetere was nominated for the award b King Tuiheitia.

WATCH THE LAND, MANAGERS TOLD

The head of a Bay of Plenty Maori trust says managers of iwi assets must constantly review their returns.

Rick Vallance from Ngati Whakaue Lands Trust says there are now many alternatives for Maori landowners to the traditional sheep and beef farming.

Ngati Whakaue has planted 4000 oak trees with the intention of growing truffles to feed the European gourmet market.

He says all options need to be on the table ... including housing developments when the need is there.

“There are opportunities in real estate. New crops say. There are opportunities in high quality dairy farming and sheep farming. The trick is to try and optimise it for your particular land and climate and topography understand what you’re trying to achieve and then set about achieving it. I think there is absolutely no reason why real estate development should not be in that mix,” Mr Vallance says.

TAKI RUA TAKES STRANGE RESTING PLACES ON THE ROAD

Wellington theatre company Taki Rua is celebrating its 25th year by touring one of its most successful plays,

Strange Resting Places by Paolo Rotondo and Rob Mokaraka was first performed to critical acclaim last year.

Now it's to be presented at more than a dozen rural towns.

Artistic director James Ashcroft says Taki Rua backed the writers to go to Italy to research the Second World War story, a move that paid big dividends.

“They got as many stories as they could from people who were at Monte Cassino, who fought with the Maori Battalion or were family members of Maori Battalion members and that’s how the work originated and then you add in a director from Texas, it’s a real diverse mix of cultures in there,” Ashcroft says.

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