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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mihipeka Edwards joins ancestors

Mihipeka Edwards died in Wellington on Tuesday afternoon at the age of 90.

Her life story, contained in three volumes of autobiography published over the past two decades, gave readers a glimpse of how Maori coped with discrimination and challenges in the transition from rural to urban life during the middle years of last century.

Wellington kaumatua Clem Huriwaka says she was a stalwart of the Ngati Poneke Maori Club and worked to build communities and pass on her knowledge and experience.

“She wrote and she taught Maori. At the tender age of 60 she was out teaching Maori. She did the waiatas – she had a beautiful voice,”
Mr Huriwaka says.

Mihipeka Edwards will be taken this morning to Wehiwehi Marae near Otaki, and on to Ngongotaha for the funeral on Sunday.

MEDIA PORTRAIT BAD FOR HEALTH

A media watchdog group says negative depictions of Maori and treaty issues damage Maori health and wellbeing.

Ray Nairn from Kupu Taea says the group's second audit of newspaper and television news coverage found the mainstream media conmtinues to frame Maori issues in a confrontational and negative way.

He says feedback from a Maori focus group conducted as part of the research found that had an impact in the workplace.

“It means that you have to watch the news, because you know that’s what you are going to be hassled over tomorrow, which I think as a health worker is very concerning. People are actually having to gear up to go to work knowing that they are going to be asked to explain, they’re going to be called to account, they’re going to be asked to speak on behalf of all Maori people,” Dr Nairn says.

A non-Maori focus group also found the news was needlessly negative about Maori.

JOHN MATAIRA NEW CONSUL GENERAL IN TINSEL TOWN

Career diplomat John Mataira from Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Porou has scored the plum post of consul general in Los Angeles.

He's previously served in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Japan.

Mr Mataira says he joined Foreign Affairs 20 years ago after finishing his law degree, because he wanted to live and work overseas.

He says as Maori diplomats can bring a different perspective to overseas representation.

“We certainly offer a unique face of New Zealand that is recognisable overseas as part of the brand New Zealand so I think, it’s also good that we are also representing New Zealand at a more formal level,”
Mr Mataira says.

New Zealand has many links with the western seaboard of the United States in the entertainment, high tech and biotech industries, and he's keen to build on his current work as deputy director of the ministry's economic division.

LOW EXPECTATIONS OF BUDGET FROM MAORI NATS

National's Maori spokesperson says Maori can expect little from today's budget.

Georgina te Heuheu says since Labour dropped its closing the gaps policy in its first term, there has been little for tangata whenua in the annual spend-up.

She says National could have some cleaning up to do after Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia.

“The current minister of Maori Affairs, if we take power in a few months, he leaves a bit of a legacy of increasing poverty among our families, a rise in basic foodstuffs, petrol hitting our families hard, growth of P in those communities that are already struggling to make ends meet and to see a future,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

SUBJECTIVE VIEW TO ACADEMIC SUCCESS

Picking the right subjects could be the key to getting more Maori into tertiary study.

That could be one of the findings of research being done at Auckland University.

Tikipunga High School in Whangarei has joined several Auckland schools in the Starpath study, which aims to increase the number of Maori, Pacific and students from low-income backgrounds attending university.

Project director Elizabeth McKinley says preliminary findings are that Maori students aren't taking subjects which lead to university.

She says because parents are confused by the NCEA system, they leave subject choice to students and teachers.

“We find far too many Maori students and of course Pasifika students, students in low decile schools, many of them are not being guided into taking unit standards or achievement standards, the NCEA programme which will actually give them the choice at year 13 to go on to tertiary study,” she says.

Associate Professor McKinley says there seems to be little difference in outcomes between rural schools offering a limited number of subjects and larger schools with what can be too many options.

NGATI WAI RANGATIRA BASIS FOR NOVEL

The life and times of a 19th century Ngati Wai rangatira has drawn an expatriate writer back home.

Paula Morris, who's also from Ngati Wai, is returning from her New Orleans base later this year to take up the Frank Sargeson Fellowship, which gives her five months residency in a flat in Auckland's Albert Park.

She'll work on a novel about Paratene Te Manu, one of Hongi Hika's fighting chiefs who converted to Christianity in the 1830s, traveled to England in the 1860s to meet Queen Victoria and spent his final years on Hoturu - Little Barrier until the army forcibly removed his iwi to make way for a nature reserve.

Ms Morris, who teaches creative writing at Tulane University, says it will be fiction rather than a biography.

“He wrote an incredible little diary of the shipboard experience going to England, the months they spent on ship. I’ve got fragments of things he wrote but otherwise information is quite scarce and I would rather approach it as a novel where I’m much more free to imaginatively re-create his life,” Ms Morris says.

She first found out about Paratene Te Manu when she was researching her second novel, Hibiscus Coast.

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