Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, June 06, 2008

NZ Coms seeking more investors

A company building a third mobile phone network is looking for more Maori money.

New Zealand Communications will use frequency reserved for Maori as part of its network.

Chairperson Bill Osborne says it has just brought in new investors, with United States private equity firm Trilogy International Partners replacing African company Econet as the cornerstone shareholder.

The Maori shareholding, including that held by the Maori spectrum trust, now stands at 16 percent.

It's looking to bring that up to 20 percent, which will bring in about $9 million.

Mr Osborne says it's proving a hard sell with traditional land-based trusts and incorporations.

“The focus is traditionally on land-based assets and it’s very difficult to understand the value of spectrum and the development of mobile telephony so it is a hard one for Maori to free up their capital to invest in this sort of technology platform. It’s just a little bit foreign to the traditional investment cycles,” Mr Osborne says.

New Zealand Communications has also managed to attract a new chief executive, Mike Reynolds, who has been running Star Hub, Singapore's second largest communications company.


The country's best Maori dairy farmer will be known tonight.

Kingi Smiler, the chair of the Ahuwhenua Trophy committee, says the three finalists are all using innovative ways to improve the environment.

They include Rotorua's Parekarangi Trust, Hawkes Bay dairy farmers Dean and Kristen Nikora and the Hauhungaroa Partnership's Taupo dairy unit.

Mr Smiler says as well as taking care of day to day business, the finalists are tackling problems caused by dairy run-off.

He says the Parekaringi Trust has worked with HortResearch to plant blueberries and rongoa plants to soak up excess run-off.

“They have sophisticated meters around the farm measuring quite accurately the nitrate levels from the fertilizer that is being applied to the extent that in their blueberry trial for example, that will mitigate the amount of leaching that might come from those nitrates,” Mr Smiler says.

The winner will get cash, services and farm products.


The Maori Party is crying foul over prospecting licences for the seabed off the Waikato coast.

Its Hauraki Waikato candidate, Angeline Greensill, says Trans-Tasman Resources will be able to prospect from Mokau to the Manukau heads.

She says the government is being inconsistent in shutting out
commercial fishers while opening the gates to miners.

“So they sort of pass legislation abut one issue, saying it’s because we’ve got Maui dolphin we have to protect them, and on the other hand they’re giving prospecting licenses which eventually lead to mining which is even more devastating to the environment and to that species I think,” Ms Greensill says.

She says the government should talk to all affected hapu rather than cherry-picking the Maori they want to deal with.


Ngati Whatua o Kaipara is breathing easier now its treaty claim has been set down for negotiation.

It signed terms yesterday with the Minister of Treaty negotations, Michael Cullen.

Its claims manager, Margaret Kawharu, says the claim covers five marae from Muriwai to Riverhead and the southern half of the Kaipara Harbour.

The claim relate to the Crown purchases and the operation of the Native land laws, particularly in relation to the Woodhill Forest.

Ms Kawharu says it's good to be finally at the table 16 years after the claim was first lodged.

“We're really relieved because we haven’t seen much movement ever since our interim report in 2002, that’s six years where we could have been engaged in negotiations and we haven’t been, so we’re anxious to move,” Ms Kawharu says.

The terms of negotiations indicate an agreement in principle by March next year.


New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is flattered the Maori Party see him as a political role model.

MP Hone Harawira has acknowledged his fellow northerner's political nous, and cited his ability to operate effectively as a minister outside cabinet as something to emulate.

The prospect of Pita Sharples becoming Minister for Maori Affairs as the price of Maori Party support is being floated.

Mr Peters says that idea can't be discounted, but the devil would be in the detail.

“Anything is possible but it comes down to thrashing out what you’re going to do and having total agreement on that. If there’s any disagreement on that, then there could be problems into the future. You’ve got to know and have got agreement accepted and clearly written down that this is the plan and we’re all going to stick to it,” he says.


Novelist Patricia Grace is tackling a take of love in a time of war ... and it's not fiction.

She's been asked to write the story of former Maori Battalion soldier Ned Nathan, who got left behind in Crete during World War Two.

He was shielded by locals, and his love affair with Katina led to marriage, three sons, and a new life back in New Zealand.

Grace says this is the first time she's tackled a lengthy work of non-fiction.

“When (Ned and Katina’s sons) Alex and Manos and Evan came to me to ask me to write the story, my first thought was I’m not a non-fiction writer. You can’t make it. But what I did understand was this was a story that needed to be told,” she says.

Patricia Grace's most recent publication is a children's book, Maraea and the Albatross.


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