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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, September 22, 2008

GST on food sparks protest

Maori actor and director Jim Moriarty has joined the growing chorus of kiwis calling for the GST component on food to be removed.

The Wellington based producer says the Peoples Procession to Parliament, which started in Kaitaia this weekend, is a chance for Maori to be better informed on food choices.

“This is a good honest initiative by people right across the social strata, rich, poor, whatever. It’s really important for all of us, particularly Maori and Pacific peoples to continue to make our people aware that what little money you’ve got, and if you get an extra 12.5 percent, to use it in a clever way rather than piling yourself into all those statistics that are going to bring about an early demise,” Mr Moriarty says.

The two week motor caravan is collecting signatures on a petition to ban GST on food to be presented at Parliament on October 3.

PARTY VOTE LIFT GREEN AIM

Meanwhile another Maori actor Rawiri Paratene has turned to politics in a bid to lift the Greens share of the Party vote.

Rawiri Paratene, who is best known for his 35 years on stage and screen, including playing Koro in the film Whale Rider, has decided to stand for the Green Party in the Auckland seat of Maungakiekie.

He says, for him, the Green's focus on conservation and social justice fit well with his definition of tino rangatiratanga.

“I hope to double the party vote from last time. The candidate last time got 1000 votes and I’m hoping to at least double that,” Mr Paratene says.

He's just returned from French Polynesia where he's been filming a documentary on ocean pollution and the impact it has on whales.

CHALLENGE NEEDED TO GET UN DECLARATION HEEDED

A prominent advocate for the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous people says Maori are failing to protect their interests by not challenging the government's decision not to sign the declaration.

Aroha Mead from Victoria University says Maori are standing by while the New Zealand Government seeks a spot on the UN Human Rights Council despite turning its back on the declaration.

“Should they win a seat on this council then I think that we really have to look not at the Crown’s behaviour, because I think they’ve been quite consistent. We have to look at ourselves, like how far are we prepared to be trampled on and just sit back and let it happen without comment,” Ms Mead says.

The decision on the spot on the UN Human Rights council is due soon.

STRONGER STANCE NEEDED ON INDIGENOUS PETITION

A Victoria university expert on indigenous rights says Maori themselves must take some blame for the Government's decision not to sign a United Nations declaration on indigenous peoples rights.

Aroha Mead says the New Zealand decision not to support the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people was illogical, irrational and shameful.

“I think we should not only be shamed at government’s stance but I think we should really be questioning our own sense of commitment to Maori rights and indigenous rights because we seem to be rather apathetic about this issue. It’s not being brought up in the different parties political policies and I’m sure they’re not bringing it up because there aren’t enough Maori saying to them this issue matters,” Ms Mead says.

She says the government is blocking the attempts of other parts of the UN system to implement the declaration on indigenous rights.

ADVERTISERS TO BLAME FOR MICKY D CHOICE

A leading Maori actor believes Maori are being trapped into bad food choices by advertisers.

Jim Moriarty says there is an urgent need for better education over food choices.

“McDonalds and all the other takeaway organisations and Coke continue to promote their food in such a manner that those on low wages are almost compelled to buy it. We know when a two litre bottle of Coke is cheaper than two litres of milk, there’s something more insidious going on in terms of entrapping the people into continuing to feed all those negatives statistics around diabetes, around obesity, all that sort of stuff,” Jim Moriarty says.

He says education should accompany the taking of GST off food which is being called for in a petition being taken to parliament in a hikoi which started in Kaitaia at the weekend.

MAORI PARTY MAPPING OUT STRATEGIES

The Maori Party is making plans in anticipation that it could hold the balance of power after the election.

MP Hone Harawira says it is important that the party prepares now for this possibility.

“What we are working ion is a couple of scenarios. If we are the player, if we are the only party who can either make or break a government, well we’re preparing a range of options to table at that time. We’re also preparing a position paper on the basis of we are just one of a number of players,” Mr Hariwara says.

The party does not want to be running around after the election trying to scrabble things it wants together.

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