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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sharples pushing no-tax first step

The Maori Party says the Budget was a missed opportunity to reform the tax system.

The party is pushing for a tax-free first step - similar to what New Zealand First advocates.

Co-leader Pita Sharples says Michael Cullen's ninth shot at a Budget still hasn't got it right.

“I'm saying one there's not enough for Maori and two, they missed a real chance to do something for the poor, the lower income people and the benefit people, and that could have had good spin offs for everybody, and I’m talking about a tax free threshold and we’ve set it pretty high at $25,000,” Dr Sharples says.


But the Finance Minister says Dr Sharples seems out of touch with where Maori are going.

Michael Cullen says the Maori Party's tax cut plan floated before the last election would have delivered most of its benefits to the rich.

He says during the time of the Labour led Government Maori median income has risen more than 60 percent, Maori unemployment has dropped to 8 percent and Maori are taking advantage of opportunities in education and economic development.

“I'm interested to see the Maori Party fall back into the perspective that the things you need to do for Maori are the things you need to do for beneficiaries, that you identify Maori with a beneficiary population, not a working population, not a participating population in full. I actually think that’s a very bad stereotype to fall into,” Dr Cullen says.

Despite its criticisms, the Maori Party voted for the Government's tax cuts.


Maori entertainers on the Gold Coast met over the weekend to pay tribute to a former member of the Maori Hi Fi's and Maori Castaways.

Danny Robinson, who died earlier this month, became a popular figure in the Gold Coast music scene after moving there in the early 1970s.

Fellow entertainer Toko Pompey says Robinson toured the world with Maori showbands and supported some big international acts including Tom Jones, Matt Monroe, Cilla Black, even a Singapore appearance by the Rolling Stones.

He says Mr Robinson, from a musical Ngati Whatua whanau, joined the Maori musical diaspora to Australia in the 1960s.

Musicians are also mourning Martin Kini, lead singer of sixties starts the Kini Quartet, who died in Auckland at the weekend.


One of the Fisheries Minister's strongest critics says he's finally got something right.

The Maori Caucus has repeatedly fronted up to Jim Anderton in recent years to put the Maori position on policies like shared fisheries, which could have resulted in valuable quota being taken off Maori commercial companies to swell the recreational take.

But Dave Hereora, the chair of the caucus, says the minister's veto of a giant marine reserve off Great Barrier Island was a good call.

He says it reflects the huge effort various government agencies, and iwi like Ngati Wai, have put into the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.

“On one half we're looking at the conservation efforts required to maintain that environment and on the other hand making sure we’re not encroaching on customary take, and in doing is making available the stocks to those traditional hapu and iwi that have fished there, It’s a good move by the minister. He has taken those issues on board and that is reflected in his stand over Great Barrier,” Mr Hereora says.


National's Maori spokesperson says the Budget figures shows a record of failure for the Ministry of Maori Development and its minister.

Georgine te Heuheu says she'll be trying to find out what Parekura Horomia asked for this time round, since it's difficult to see any new money for Maori in Michael Cullen's ninth budget.

She says Te Puni Kokiri can't even spend the money it does get.

“The department was under spent by $4.3 million in the current year, and given the huge need in our communities, I would have thought well here we go, Maori have missed out again TPK has under delivered again,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

She says Maori are increasingly asking what a John Key-led National government would do for them.


A concern for her environment has unlocked the weaving talent of Whakatohea wahine.

Uhengaparaoa, an exhibition of raranga by Tangimoe Clay, opened at Objectspace on Auckland's Ponsonby Road over the weekend.

The show was curated by Mick Prendergast, who has written extensively on Maori and Pacific weaving traditions and encouraged Ms Clay to explore many traditional forms as well as develop her own contemporary style.

She says her favourite material is a rare dune grass known for its strength and intense golden colour.

“Ten years ago I grew pingao and now I harvest it and reap all the rewards that she has to give me. It’s a beach plant so it thrives on the foreshore and it’s a binder for the dunes. I started helping plant it with council over 10 years ago just for that purpose, to bind the dunes,” Ms Clay says.

She doesn't like waving for commercial production, so she runs a craft shop in Opotiki to promote other artists’ work.


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