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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Election date gives Maori clear choice

Former Mana Motuhake leader Sandra Lee says the Prime Minister gave Maori a clear choice with today's announcement of the election date.

She says Helen Clark gained a jump on National by emphasising her government's record and points of difference before revealing the November 8 poll.

Ms Lee, a cabinet minister in the Labour-Alliance coalition government, says many of those differences, such as privatisation, are critical for Maori.

“Historically the effects of privatization impacted very adversely on Maori in terms of employment and assets. Kiwisaver, benefits of family, education, health, all of the social areas are areas that have a significant bearing on those in the so called socio-income bracket, and that includes our people so she’s setting a very clear agenda of a history of social delivery and a commitment to the continuing of that,” Ms Lee says.

She says the speech gave Maori voters, and the Maori Party, a clear choice about where they could put their support.


A new study is using a Maori workforce to see if being made redundant is more unhealthy than long term unemployment.

Mauri Tangata is a project of the Eru Pomare Research Centre looking at the long term health effects of involuntary job loss among the former workforce at the Oringi, Tomoana and Whakatu freezing works.

Researcher Jordan Waiti says some workers go through the ordeal of redundancy more than once

“It's a loss of your relationships, social network, your status, your income, your workmates, and those can lead to depression which can lead to other health complications. That’s the idea around multiple redundancies compared to someone who just has the one,” Mr Waiti says.

A similar study in 2002 found higher rates of serious self-harm among those made redundant.


A long-serving Maori policeman says he was duped by his whanau in joining the force 35 years ago ago.

Senior Constable Paddy Whiu's contribution to the force and to the people of Taitokerau was celebrated today at Kaingahoa Marae near Kaikohe.

Pieri Munro, a long time colleague and now Wellington District Commander, says Mr Whiu's experience and judgment were invaluable during the policing of the Foreshore and Seabed hikoi in 2005 and in the protests around the building of the northern regional Prison in Ngawha.

He says Mr Whiu was always destined not just for community policing but to be the first kaitakawaena or iwi liaison officer.

“Interesting about Paddy is even he will say he wasn’t recruited, he was hoodwinked. It was the people, it was his parents, it was also the community who wanted him to go into the police to use that as a vocation,” Superintendant Munro says.

Commissioner Howard Broad took time away from the Police murder investigation in Mangere to pay tribute to Paddy Whiu.


A former Alliance deputy leader says the furore over donations to Winston Peters is unlikely to be a major election issue.

Sandra Lee says today's announcement of a November 8 election set the scene for an issues-based election.

She says National and Act tried to use New Zealand First's funding to undermine the Government, but the public is switching off.

“Give it another two weeks and people will be quite jaded by that whole Winston thing. It’s going to be a thing of the past and more specific political issues are going to be thrown up as a result of this election campaign.

“Helen Clark is basically snatched the camera today in announcing the election in the way that she set the agenda, she’s taken the initiative. It’s almost like she’s saying to the media ‘you’ve had your fun, this has gone of for weeks and weeks and weeks and now we’re going to get on with the real issues and agenda at hand, and that is a political election campaign,’” Ms Lee says.

The outcome of the election will be critical to Maori because of the significant differences between Labour and National on the economic and social issues which affect the bulk of Maori people.


Maori exporters have been meeting in Wellington to compare experiences and pick up tips for future business.

Panelist Manuka Henare from Auckland University's business school says the Tekau Plus symposium at Te Papa has attracted many iwi-based businesses in the primary sector, rather than people trying to break in.

He says cultural relationships are a point of difference, as was shown by the large number of Maori business people who traveled to Shanghai for the signing of New Zealand's free trade agreement with China.

“They had private meetings with Chinese trade unionists and Chinese entrepreneurs and business people away from other New Zealand companies. They ended up having heart to heart cultural discussions about economics and business, maintaining cultural values, family values, tribal systems, kinship groups, all that sort of stuff, and these are the extra outcomes people want from business activity, not just profits,” Mr Henare says.

The tribal and whanau businesses at the symposium emphasised Maori are in business for the long haul, not just the next quarterly result.


Longevity was a point broadcaster and publisher Derek Fox reinforced to a mainstream business audience this week.

Mr Fox told the Business New Zealand conference that the business community ignores Maori success, even though Maori are the biggest shareholders in the meat, wool and dairy industries.

He says none of the 10 biggest companies on the New Zealand sharemarket in the 1980s are still going, but all 10 of the largest Maori ventures survive and prosper.

Derek Fox says Maori investment in the New Zealand economy is long-term and long-lasting.


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