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Friday, May 09, 2008

Treaty talks stretch system capacity

The Treaty Negotiations Minister says his officials are working to almost full capacity.

Michael Cullen yesterday signed terms of negotiation with the Ngati Pahauwera confederation.

The talks will cover historic treaty claims for land and forests in northern Hawkes Bay hapu as well as customary rights claims to foreshore and seabed around the Mohaka River.

Dr Cullen says he was able to bring the talk forward because of the group's strong mandate and the work it has done in the Waitangi Tribunal and the Maori Land Court.

“We're pretty much getting to the end of our capacity at the moment it’s fair to say and we got issues going on in the north, the central North Island, the Waikato River, the top of the South Island, the bottom of the North Island, and some other negotiations under way, so the Office of Treaty Settlements resources are pretty stretched at the present time and we are having to indicate to some groups there may need to be a little bit of a pause,” Dr Cullen says.

He hopes final agreement can be reached soon on the Waikato River and Central North Island claims, which should free up negotiating capacity later in the year.

MORE TEEN OFFENDING PROGRAMMES NEEDED

An Auckland youth worker says not enough resources are put into programmes to tackle youth offending.

Steve Boxer runs Male Youth New Direction, which offers military-style camps and counseling to change the behaviour of at-risk teenagers.

He says it's one of a number of similar programmes around the country, but they struggle to get funding ... and the preferred response seems to be to do nothing.

“We always like to say you’re putting a plaster on a wound where you should have a bandage. We’re trying to provide options where we can become that bandage but we need the resourcing, we need the funding in order to do it and do it properly so they’re not going through the system beyond the age of 17, going into the district court and being seen as a lost soul and having a bed made for them in prison,” Mr Boxer says.

He'd like to see more marae running programmes to combat youth offending.

ARTSOURCE TEACHES CREATIVES ACCOUNTING

Art may feed the soul, but artists have to eat.

That's the thinking behind a Manukau City Council business training programme for people into creative areas like music, fashion, art, graphic design, film making, dance or theatre.

Leilani Kake, an Otara-based multi-media artist with Tainui, Nga Puhi and Cook Islands whakapapa, says the year-long ART source course changed her thinking about business.

“For me it was a bit of a dirty word, it would corrupt your art. But it isn’t. We’ve all got to make a living and I love being a visual artist and if I can survive and be self-sufficient, that's even better,” Ms Kake says.

The closing date for applications to this year's programme is June the second.

MT EDEN MAKUTU STILL LINGERING

A former head of prisons hopes a new prison at Mount Eden may finally lay to rest fears of a curse on the old building.

The government has approved plans to turn the old Victorian gaol into an administration block, with inmates housed in a new eight storey cell block next door.

Kim Workman, who now works in prisoner rehabilitation, says the prison had held many notable Maori, including Whakatohea chief Mokomoko, falsely accused of the murder of missionary Carl Völkner in the Bay of Plenty in 1865.

“Not long after I became the head opf prisons we noted the level of suicides in the prison mainluy related to Maori prisoners and there was a view among Maori prisoners that the place had a makutu on it because of the burials that took place. We subsequently arranged the exhumatin of those bodies. Mokomoko was one of course who stiood out and he was reputed to have been buried standing up so that his soul would never rest and it was a very emotional time to be able to exhume those bodies and remove them to Waikumete Cemetery and the families of those people who were executed in the prison would feel some relief as a result of that,” Mr Workman says.

FOR WHOM THE KEY TOLLS

Tax cuts, treaty settlements and continuing subsidies.

That's what National leader John Key sees as the alternative to this week's buy back of Toll Holdings' rail and ferry business.

He says the deal was a misplaced use of the country's resources, when the rail system was being run well by the Australians.

“They know what they're doing. They’re a world class operation. Quite simply it was pretty easy for the Government to increase the subsidy to Toll. That gets passed on to the customer. It means freight and passenger services are cheaper on rail, and that would have increased patronage,” Mr Key says.

HOROMIA SEES END OF ROAD TRAINS

But the Minister of Maori Affairs says the rail deal will strengthen the whole economy.

Parekura Horomia says the increased investment will mean more jobs, and the chance to drive a shift of freight from road to rail.

“You know the way I see the economy picking up, ffreight movement will be a critical point. If you’ve been on the road at 1am or 2am in the morning like I have some times, going between Waiouru, Taupo and Auckland, it’s Christmas tree highway, you know you’ve got hundreds of trucks. That’s a lot of steam and a lot of wear and tear,” Mr Horomia says.

Maori have an historical attachment to rail, and the business still has a relatively high Maori workforce.

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