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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Waipareira education challenge

A speaker at the Waipareira Education summit says it won't be a blamefest or a talkfest, but a time to come up with solutions for deteriorating Maori literacy standards.

Tom Nicholson from Massey University's centre for literacy excellence will tell the hui at West Auckland's Trust Stadium how to get Maori to number one again by 2018.

He says that goal is achievable if there are changes in the way reading is taught.

Professor Nicholson says literacy rates among New Zealand children, including Maori, were once the envy of the world.

“Maori achievement has not been able to get back to where it once was. Lots of things have been tried over the last 20 to 30 years but we have to get better solutions and the fact that Maori people are tacking the issue themselves and holding a summit that is driven from the bottom up so to speak, I think that is really important,” he says.

Speakers today include Education Minister Chris Carter, Auckland University Professor Dame Anne Salmond and Professor Russell Bishop, whose Te Kotahitangi professional development programme aims to raise teacher expectations of Maori children.

SEATS ANYTHING BUT TEMPORARY

The Prime Minister is scoffing at John Key's contention the Maori seats should still be seen as a temporary measure.

The Opposition leader told a television interviewer that the country has moved on from 1867, when the seats were created because Maori didn't qualify as voters under the land-based franchise system.

Helen Clark says it's a funny kind of temporary, when it works successfully for more than 140 years.

“I know he'd like them to be temporary because the National Party doesn’t like them and one would hope that the National Party’s determination to take away the Maori seats would banish any consideration of the Maori Party ever thinking of backing a National government,” Ms Clark says.

Labour's position is to retain the seats until Maori ask for them to go.

MANU ARIKI MATAKITE MOURNED

Supporters of King Country prophet Alexander Phillips are mourning the death of their charismatic leader.

Although relatively unknown in wider circles, Mana Ariki near Taumaranui, the headquarters of his Te Kotahitanga Building Society, is one of the largest marae in the country.

Whanganui River elder Morvin Simon says Mr Phillips had considerable support on the upper reaches of the river, with some communities gathering large quantities of eels every year for Mana Ariki hui.

He says Mr Phillips’ message of religious tolerance, and his healing drew many people to him.

“He as a kaumatua leader and matakite in terms of being a healer and seer has over the years been helpful to many many people,” Mr Simon says.

Alexander Phillips is lying in state on Mana Ariki Marae. His funeral is at 11 on Saturday.

MAORI NEED NEW READING LESSONS

A literacy expert says Maori need to come up with new ways of improving reading standards, because the status quo isn't working.

Tom Nicholson, the head of Massey University's centre of literacy excellence, is one of the speakers at a three day education summit starting today at Trust Stadium in West Auckland.

He says too many Maori believe the responsibility for lifting achievement belongs to schools and teachers, and parents don't see a role for themselves.

“It's that mindset that I think we need to change. We may just need to revolutionise the way we’re teaching children, particularly Maori children and Pasifika children, to think totally outside the square, because what we’ve been doing so far is getting nowhere,” Professor Nicholson says.

The summit, which is organsied by urban maori trust Te Whanau o Waipareira, will be looking for solutions rather than dwelling on blame.

TOUGH WORK TEACHES ABOUT TUPUNA

A group learning to build palisades has found new respect for their tupuna.

Nagrimu Blair, the heritage and resource manager for Ngati Whatua ki Orakei, says the fence will go up this weekend around the old papakainga at Okaahu Bay.

The work will be filmed for a community arts programme.

He says a wananga last weekend to gather manuka and kanuka from Umupuia near Maraetai gave an insight into how hard it is to build a pa.

“I mean we're only doing a 100m fence with chainsaws and trucks and imagine doing a 1km long palisade on a terrace on Maungakiekie with puriri and totara. It opened our eyes up to how tough our tupuna were and how fit they were and how smart they were in terms of their organization,” Mr Blair says.

The palisades are designed to be moveable, so that they can be used by other community groups.

MAHINERANGI TOCKER’S CONTRIBUTION REMEMBERED

The head of the Mental Health Foundation has joined the chorus mourning the death of Mahinarangi Tocker.

The Taumaranui raised singer songwriter died in Auckland yesterday of complications from an asthma attack.

Judy Clements says Tocker's willingness to front the foundation's Like Minds Like Mine campaign has paid dividends in reducing the stigma associated with mental illness.

“She was prepared to put her own story and talk about how she handled her own mental health problems which I think inspired people and the genuine warmth and humour she brought to that as well as the extraordinary musical talents she was always prepared to share,” Ms Clements says.

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