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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Kingitanga focus for unity

The King Movement is being seen as a way to bring Maori together in a post-settlement environment.

Tainui MP Nanaia Mahuta says the support from iwi around the country for the movement's 150th anniversary celebrations show how Kingitanga is able to renew itself each generation.

She says there was a lot of discussion about the challenges Maori face and how the movement can contribute to their political, economic and social development.

“We need the movement as a means of bringing the iwi together but also of asserting aspirations which is to unite Maori, to hold on to our resources, whether that be our lands or whatever, but also the new conversation is how can iwi determine greater partnership across themselves to be able to take Maori forward,” Ms Mahuta says.

Iwi are also concerned about possible constitutional debate, and want Maori to be at the centre of the debate rather than an afterthought.

HEALTH CHECKS TO CHECK DIOXIN ROSK

Tangata whenua in New Plymouth are welcoming free annual health checks to people who lived near the former Ivon Watkins Dow agri-chemical plant in Paritutu, or worked in it.

The checks come in response to a new independent report on the potential of exposure to dioxin when the plant was making the herbicide 2-4-5-T between 1962 and 1987.

Peter Moeahu, the secretary of Ngati Te Whiti, says he'll be encouraging hapu members to take the checks when they become available from the first of July.

“Unless we go through that process we’re really not going to know whether any of our members’ health has been affected or not. And that’s why I’m quite pleased with the proposal for the health checks. There are those who say it’s too little too late, but I am of the view anything’s than nothing at this stage,” Mr Moeahu says.

While some hapu members have health problems, it can't yet be proven they were dioxin-related.

OTACO CEMENTS TIES WITH NGATI TOA

Otago University has formalised its decades-old link with Wellington iwi Ngati Toa.

The link was forged by the late Eru Pomare, a leading medical researcher, who gave his name to the university's Wellington-based research centre.

Darryn Russell, the University's director of Maori development, says the memornadum of understanding signed yesterday at Takapuwahia Marae in Porirua extends the relationship to all departments in the university.

He says it will strengthen what the university has to offer.
“We're looking at strong support in the teaching of our hauora Maori and cultural competency from a community perspective, we’re interested in partnering in good quality research that produces information to help with the well-being of our communities,” Mr Russell says.

He says the memorandum will give Ngati Toa the opportunity to understand the university's research agenda and become involved with the teaching of graduates who will engage with their communities.

WAIPAREIRA SETS SIGHTS ON DOCTORS’ CARTELS

Hard on the heels of its education summit, West Auckland's Waipareira Trust is setting its sights on the health of its whanau.

Chief executive John Tamihere says it's working with Ngati Whatua on a healthcare strategy, and the trust-linked public health organisation, Wai Ora, is growing rapidly.

He says by the end of the year it should have 50,000 patients registered.

“For the first time we are having research and data sets in our hands which give us a remarkable opportunity to engage in a very well documented, very well researched way in changing the health system to get better health outcomes for low paid, unemployed, or those with low access because they’re scared like hell about going to the doctors and costs and all that sort of stuff,” Mr Tamihere says.

He says most Maori get their healthcare from an accident and emergency clinic rather than from a wellness plan.

SAWMILL WORKERS FIGHTING LEGACY OF POISON

A former Whakatane sawmill worker says the problems of dioxin poisoning aren't confined to Paratutu.

The Government has announced people living round the former Ivon Watkins Dow plant in New Plymouth can get free annual health checks because they may have been exposed to dioxins in the 1960s and 70s.

But Joe Harawira from Sawmill Workers Against Poisons, or Swap, says workers from the Whakatane mill, which closed 20 years ago, are still suffering from poisons used in timber treatment.

“When you look at the sawmill workers in Whakatane and you see the levels of dioxins that are in our system, they far outweigh everyone else’s in New Zealand including the Paratutu ones,” Mr Harawira says.

He says sawmill workers need to be eligible for Accident Compensation support and ongoing healthcare.

CHEAP GLASSES ENCOURAGE SHORT-SIGHTED VIEW

The first Maori man to graduate in optometry wants Maori to be more aware of their eye health.

Jacob Ormsby joined a practice in his hometown of Katikati after graduating from Auckland University in 2003.

He says many Maori buy cheap non-prescription glasses from chemists or other stores, rather than getting a full check.

He says that's a short sighted approach.

“Once people start seeing well with the help of those glasses they probably put it to the back of their mind – they’re doing ok and their eyes are alright. But maybe that’s not the only way to have an eye test. Maybe someone looking inside there and checking the areas you can’t test yourself are more important that being able to see clearly right in the now,” Mr Ormsby says.

Jacob Ormsby says a proper eye test can pick up conditions like type 2 diabetes, which can cause blindness.

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