Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mobsters in paua poaching crackdown

Mongrel mob members are among those rounded up today in a crackdown on the illegal paua trade around Wellington's south coast.

Shaun Driscoll, the Fisheries Ministry's national investigations manager, says an undercover officer identified the syndicates responsible for an increase in poaching in the area, and about 60 people were spoken to today.

A lot of the paua ended up in Hong Kong, where it sells for up to a thousand dollars a kilogram.

Mr Driscoll says like past crack-downs, there was a strong gang element.

“The central figure that we’ve identified here in Wellington organises individuals to dive for him, collect paua, and he clearly organises networks into which he can sell the paua but the people who are doing the diving are predominantly acting as individuals albeit that a large number of them do have gang affiliations and in this occasion it has mainly been into the Mongrel Mob,” Mr Driscoll says.

The ministry has had support from Te Atiawa and Ngati Toa in its enforcement.


The government will tomorrow apologise to Vietnam veterans, but one Vietnam-era soldier believes other people should have apologies ready.

The official apology will acknowledge veterans were not treated fairly when they returned to New Zealand from the war.

New Zealand First MP Ron Mark, who joined the army in 1970, says as a young soldier he saw the hostile way veterans returning from Vietnam were treated by the public.

He still holds a grudge against past ministers of defence and army brass who refused to listen to veteran's complaints about what exposure to toxic chemical like Agent Orange were doing to them and their families.

“I still can't get my head around the fact there’s a whole bunch of people at Defence headquarters who knew the exposure levels to dioxins, who knew that there must have been intelligence available, who knew that there were maps available and for whatever reason never ever thought to go digging for it or find it,” Mr Mark says.

There might never have been a proper inquiry into Agent Orange if retired artillery officer John Masters hadn't found a map which contradicted the official story about chemical defoliation in areas where New Zealanders served.


A programme to return kakariki to Hauraki Gulf islands is being hailed as having cultural as well as scientific merit.

Project head Luis Ortiz-Catedral says 31 of the native parrots have been trapped on Hauturu-Little Barrier for relocation to predator-free Motuihe Island, which adjoins Rangitoto.

He says as the birds come back, so will the stories around them.

“These animals are a treasure that form part of folk tales and myths in Maori culture so we’ve done now our part of bringing them back to this site and now it’s up to those people who know about these tales and folk tales to bring their children to see them in those sites and explain the importance of them in their cultural vision of the world,” Mr Ortiz-Catedral says.

More kakariki will be released later this year on Tawharanui and Rakino islands.


Waikato and King Country secondary school students are getting help to chart their way through some difficult years.

As its project for National Youth Week, Waikato District Health Board is distributing a whanau pack developed by iwi health provider Te Ngaru o Maniapoto health services to 44 secondary schools.

Spokesperson Kingi Turner says its contains bilingual information on parenting in the 21st century, drugs and alcohol, sexual health, nutrition and truancy.

“Often what happens is the parents have difficulty giving that awhi, giving that manaaki to their tamariki, and sometimes we need something like the whanau pack just to give them some guidelines around what could be a good way to approach subjects that they didn’t have to talk about before,” Mr Turner says.


The Prime Minister is dismissing Maori Party criticism of the tax cuts.

Party co-leader Pita Sharples says the budget had little in it for Maori.

But Helen Clark says Maori have been huge winners under the Labour led-government, with lower unemployment and a big boost from the Working for Families initiative.

She says a single earner family on the average income of $45,000 will get $30 a week more in the hand from the first tax cut installment.

“Now that $30 on the first of October is equivalent to getting a 3.7 percent increase in your take home pay. I know there will be workers listening to this who think ‘gee, I wouldn’t mind a 3.7 percent increase in my wage negotiations.’ So that’s how important it is for people, and I just don’t know what planet some of this Maori Party criticism's on,” Ms Clark says.

The budget also included specific Maori spending such as increased support for Maori wardens.


A rare snapshot of traditional Maori life has been revealed on an island off Northland.

James Robinson, an Otago University archaeologist, has conducted an extensive survey of Tawhiti Rahi, the northernmost of the Poor Knights group.

He says it was extensively settled from the 1500s to December 16, 1823, when a raiding party from Hikutu hapu slaughtered its Ngati Wai inhabitants.

Ngati Wai never resettled, leaving in place an intact archaeological landscape of life as it would have been when James Cook first visited Aotearoa.

“There was a very complex and intensive settlement on these islands that reflects to the nature of Maori society just at the time of European contact and as such I think that’s very important. Important for Ngati Wai, important for New Zealand, and I think when we go to the World Archaeology Congress we will show that it’s important tio the world’s understanding of how people, he tangata, have settled the world,” Mr Robinson says.

He will reveal his findings to the New Zealand Archaeological Society conference on June 4 and the World Congress in Dublin at the end of the month.


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