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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, June 23, 2008

Crown not the ref - Cullen

The Minister of Treaty Negotiations says he won't act as a video referee between tribes.

Michael Cullen will this week sign agreements settling a range of historical claims for several central North Island iwi, using half a billion dollars of Crown forestry assets.

The deal has come together since December after several years of failed attempts.

Dr Cullen says the Government has learned to step back and try and facilitate agreement, rather than pick between overlapping claimants.

“I don’t think the Crown’s very good, and certainly as minister I’m not very good, at acting as some kind of historical video referee where people go upstairs to the video referee to say ‘did it get over the line or didn’t it?’ when there are arguments between individual iwi-hapu around particular issues,” Dr Cullen says.

This week's settlements will address the commercial aspects of the claims, and other aspects such as cultural redress and the historical account for individual iwi will be sorted out later.


Meanwhile, the MP behind a bill to stop Maori Land Court judges serving on the Waitangi Tribunal isn't giving up.

Pita Paraone's Treaty of Waitangi (Removal of Conflict of Interest) Amendment Bill was voted down last week after its report back from select committee.

The New Zealand First MP argues the actions of the Maori Land Court or its predecessor could be the subject of claims, so it makes no sense for the two organisations to share members.

“We still cannot see any reason why the chief judge of the Maori Land Court should also be the chairman of the Waitangi Tribunal and we believe that the chairman of the Waitangi Tribunal should be held by a retired High Court Judge or a retired Maori Land Court Judge,” Mr Paraone says.

New Zealand First still hasn't decided whether support for a similar bill will again be included in post-election coalition discussions.


The new head of Television New Zealand's Maori programmes is promising no surprises in his first few months.

Paora Maxwell, the head of independent production house Te Aratai Productions, is stepping into the role left vacant by the retirement of Whai Ngata.

He'd like to expand the division's output, but says radical changes are unlikely in the short term.

“My job is to go in and look at the big picture, understand the work that television New Zealand is doing, to understand the Maori programming department and the programmes that they produce, and also just to reassure all stakeholders that we have new leadership but pretty much we’re going to be producing the best programmes that we can,” Mr Maxwell says.

He will be looking for new opportunities for the Maori programmes department.


A Maori lawyer says debate climate change needs to be brought down the marae and whanau level.

Tama Potaka from Whanganui and Taranaki made a submission on the Emmissions Trading Bill on behalf of his daughter, Ta Araia, when she was just six days old,

Parliament's finance and expenditure select committee has reported back the bill with more than a thousand mainly technical amendments.

Mr Potaka says there is a lot of room for change to environmental practices in communities, marae and homes.

“Discussion on the climate change bill is one way to catalyse and facilitate better awareness about our engagement and our interaction with papatuanuku, tawhirimatea, tangaroa other atua and te tai ao, te tai turoa,” Mr Potaka says.

Despite the changes to the bill, the Government has still not won clear support from the Greens, New Zealand First, or the Maori Party.


A Maori Party MP has launched a personal attack on Labour's Maori MPs for upholding their party's confidence and supply agreement with New Zealand First.

Labour last week voted down a bill which would have stopped Maori Land Court judges sitting on the Waitangi Tribunal, after allowing it to go to a select committee.

That's not good enough for Hone Harawira, who says it should never have got that far.

“I would naturally expect that Maori would take one look at this piece of legislation and chuck it in the rubbish, bit no, no, no, not the Labour Maori MPs. They voted to support getting rid of Maori judges from the Waitangi Tribunal and the Maori Land Court,” Mr Harawira says.


The MP for Waiariki says getting young people involved in cultural activities would be a more effective way to stop tagging than the bill passed last week.

The Maori Party and the Greens were the only ones to vote against the Summary Offences (Tagging and Graffiti Vandalism) Amendment Bill.

Te Ururoa Flavel says it's a knee-jerk response to a serious problem that affects many Maori communities.

He says last week's secondary school kapa haka competitions pointed to a different path.

“People talk about tagging and crime and generally try to link some of our people with that stuff. But I notice that many of the programmes that are all about rehabilitation are actually about bringing people back to home base or refocusing people about being Maori again, and kapa haka of course is one of those avenues,” Mr Flavell says.

Kapa haka can teach discipline, teamwork, time management and dedication.


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