Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, May 26, 2008

Cullen: Plenty in boil-up for Maori

The finance minister says his ninth budget contains a lot for Maori, if they know where to look.

Michael Cullen says increased operational grants will help low decile schools, where there is a higher percentage of Maori students, and the money going into community service groups, health programmes and insulating state housing will also help Maori.

He says during the term of the Labour-led Government Maori median income has risen more than 60 percent, and the Budget will put even more cash in Maori pockets.

“The tax cut package is actually geared a lot more to the low end than I think people thought we could do. Compared to say what the Nats were proposing in 2005, there are bigger tax cuts up to a level of about $40,000 a year. So quite significant, given that Maori tend to be concentrated among lower income earners,” Dr Cullen says.

He says over the past eight years the funding for Te Puni Kokiri has more than doubled.


He may not be the associate minister of tourism any more, but Dover Samuels is still pushing the cause of Maori tourism.

The Labour list MP is joining Minister Damian O'Connor in Rotorua tonight to open the annual Trenz tourism industry showcase.
He says Maori operators must keep putting their products in front of the industry at venues such as Trenz, where 1500 exhibitors hawk their wares to a huge audience of international travel wholesalers.

“When I first went to Trenz, I think it was in the early 90s, you’d be lucky to find a Maori stall there. Right now we have got many of our Maori tourism organisations. This is where we’ve got to take the bull by the horns and get out there and promote Maori as a unique part of the overall tourism product that New Zealand has to offer,” Mr Samuels says.

Last year's Maori tourism delegation to China confirmed the interest visitors have to interact with New Zealand’s indigenous culture.


A Rotorua whanau is generating international interest in its colourful jewelry.

Too Lucious is the Maori design business run by Aroha Armstrong, Tawa Hunter and Inez Crawford.

Ms Crawford says traditional forms like heru and tiki are finding a new audience when they're produced in contemporary materials like brightly-coloured resin.

“We don't have access to poumanu or whalebone. It’s about using what material is available and being smart with it and it’s sort of like there is no value in a piece of resin but there is by the time we've finished with it,” Ms Crawford says.

Too Luscious is taking back Maori culture from the souvenir industry in a fun way.


The Maori affairs select committee is in Australia this week.

Dave Hereora, the chairperson, says the committee is working on a report on early childhood educaiton, and it will visit Aboriginal early childhood centres in Brisbane to see if there is anything that could be useful in Aoteroa.

He says it will also go to Canberra to talk to an Australian parliamentary committee which has been investigating disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

“They've just completed the hearing of that evidence and we’re keen to talk to them about their findings. Obviously it does have an impact on their way forward, given their recent national apology (to Aboriginal people), and we see that as a positive move,” Mr Hereora says.

He expects MPs to stick with the programme, rather than skive off to Alice Springs like Maori Party MP Hone Harawira did from a justice select committee trip last year.


Throw out your calendars and clocks. Matariki is here bringing with it reminders of older ways of keeping time.

The star cluster Matariki, also known as Seven sisters or the Pleiades, came over the morning horizon last Friday.

That means the Maori New Year will begin the day after the first new moon - on June 6.

Richard Hall, an astronomer at Stonehenge-Aotearoa in the Wairarapa, says for ancient Maori Matariki marked a time when food was abundant.

He says today people forget the stars hold knowledge as well as beauty.

“We're so used to someone telling us what time it is and what day it is. You’ve got to remember there was a time when those things were not around. We didn’t have a calendar to look at to say in three months time the weather is gong to change, to expect the southerlies to come through. They depended on the rising of stars to tell them these events were about to happen,” Mr Hall says.

The Matariki cluster is not only important to Maori and peoples throughout the Pacific, but it was also a rich source of lore for the ancient civilisations of Europe and Asia.


Old time Maori musicians are mourning the loss of one of the great voices.

Martin Kini, the lead singer of the Kini Quartet, died in Auckland over the weekend after a short illness.

The family group from the East Coast recorded eight singles and one album for the Zodiac label.

They had a hit with Under the Sun, still a popular song at Maori gatherings.

Fellow showband musician Toko Pompey says Martin Kini's velvety voice reminded people of Nat King Cole.

At one memorable performance for the Maori Queen at the Auckland Maori Community Centre, he outshone other names on the bill like Frankie Rowles and Gugi Waaka.

Martin Kini will be taken back to Waihirere near Gisborne.


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