Waatea News Update

News from Waatea 603 AM, Urban Maori radio, first with Maori news

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Keep police unarmed

One of the country's top Maori officers supports police not being armed.

Assistant commissioner Viv Rickard, who is responsible for police operations throughout the country, says it’s extremely positive that the police can operate without guns.

“We have firearms available to us if required but our community policing approach means we want to get connected with our community. With that comes some risks, but I think at this stage it’s a real positive for New Zealand we have a model of policing which endears itself to the community and we are not armed,” he says.

Mr Rickard says in the future this may change but at present New Zealand's approach to the police not being armed is something the country can be proud of.

VOUNTEERS ANSWER CALL IN KAIKOHE

A call by Northland Marae for volunteers to help fill traditional roles has recieved a good response.

Bella Tari, the manager of Te Hauora o Kaikohe volunteer centre, says about 200 people turned up to today’s opening eager to help.

“We really need to start streamlining our marae by doing courses for cooking, for chefs. Where I come from there’s no kaumatua, we’ve lost all our kaumatua. We’ve got to get external people, even though they’re interrelated. We’ve got to get them traveling from another area into our area to carry the hui, those kaumatua and kuia who come to do the karanga and powhiri for the maraes,” Ms Tari says.

As well as helping on the marae volunteers will work with inmates in the Northern Correctional Facility in Ngawha.

ROTORUA KAI STUDIED FOR TOXINS

A study of Rotorua geothermal areas is looking at whether traditional kai is being contaminated by accumulated toxins.

National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research scientist Ngaire Phillips says a year has already been spent seeing if heavy metals such as Mercury and Arsenic are affecting fresh-water koura, tuna and watercress.

“Anyone who's been to Rotorua can tell you there’s lots of areas that have geothermal influences. You just have to go to Rotorua itself and if you stand in the lake you can feel the sand getting warmer in some areas, in areas where people have traditionally collected from in the past and don’t now or where they collect from now, so the whole programme is targeted at getting information which is directly relevant to iwi,” Dr Phillips says.

The study may show that all kai in the area is safe to eat but until it is complete this will not be known.

MANUKAU CONSIDERS MAORI WARDS

One of the country's largest councils is considering establishing separate Maori wards.

Manukau City Council will discuss the idea later this month after its Te Tiriti o Waitangi committee recommended the council support the introduction of Maori seats.

Haare Williams, a kaumatua for the council, says Maori votes are diluted by the current system and is welcoming the move.

He believes introducing the separate wards will allow greater advocacy on Maori issues.

“In terms of quality, in terms of representation, I think the ideal of Maori wards would be much more favourable than what it is at present,” Mr Williams says.

If successful the move would see two new members within the existing number of 17 seats.

The only other local authority with separate Maori wards is Environment Bay of Plenty which has had two Maori wards since 2001.

POLICE MISTAKES SMALL PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL

The officer in charge operations throughout the country says police mistakes should be seen against the amount of crime handled.

Assistant police commissioner Viv Rickard, one of the top Maori police in the country, says understanding cultural things is extremely important to avoid mistakes.

“Without talking about Tuhoe but just talking about that police-Maori relationship, there’s always opportunties for us to learn. When we reflect back, now we look at it, we would consider doing it differently,” Mr Rickard says.

Police deal with 400,000 incidents a year and the communications centre handles 1.7 million calls.

POLL GAP TIPPED TO NARROW BEFORE POLLS

Former Labour MP and political commentator John Tamihere believes the gap in the polls between National and Labour will narrow by election date while the battle in the Maori electorates is wide open.

He says one thing which the Maori party has going for it is its brand name.

“The beauty about the Maori Party is the brand. It’s pretty tough to walk into a booth and vote against who you are and what you are and what you have always identified with. And you don’t go on the Maori roll unless you identify with being a Maori, so they’re halfway there already,” Mr Tamihere says.

He says the brand will be as significant as personalities in the Maori seats.

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