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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mahuika defends Ngati Porou support

Ngati Porou's chairman is dismissing an attempt to block his iwi's foreshore and seabed settlement.

Two East Coast hapu, Ruawaipu and Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, have asked the Waitangi Tribunal for an urgent hearing into the deal, with spokesman Darrell Naden claiming the iwi is split over the issue.

But Api Mahuika says his runanga's ratification hui are going well, and he's confident it will be able to report overwhelming support by the September 19 deadline.

“The meeting that he attended, we had 45 for and 15 against. We had a meeting in Te Araroa Tuesday night where we had 99 percent, one opposed. The same in Hicks Bay where we had 100 percent support. I don’t know where the split is in terms of those statistics,” Mr Mahuika says.

He says other iwi are looking at the Ngati Porou deal as the template for their own foreshore and seabed settlements.


Child welfare agencies are making a new Maori group feel welcome.

Hone Kaa from Te Kahui Mana Ririki says the trust, which was set up to address disproportionate abuse rates among Maori, has been able to make a real contribution at this week's Every Child Counts conference in Wellington.

The hui brings together organisations like Barbadoes, Plunket, UNICEF, Save the Children and the Institute of Public Policy at AUT University.

“There's a great sense of equity and equaity in their relationships with us. I guess for a long time they’ve been waiting for a Maori body to step out and join them. We need to work together on this issue and our advice and our input is sought in order to make our environment better for our tamariki,” Dr Kaa says.

The Every Child Counts conference is calling on government to create a Minister for Children.


Experienced Maori writers are helping to bring on the next generation of authors.

Aroha Harris, James George and others are taking part in workshops around the country this month to help novice writers gain the confidence needed to tell their own stories.

Michele Powles, the director of New Zealand Book month, says there is an increase in Maori writing fiction, inspired by the success of authors like Witi Ihimaera, Kerry Hulme and Patricia Grace.

“Those guys are probably the pioneers of building confidence and now there are younger writers in terms of really relishing the opportunity to have their say and it may be that they’re writing fiction in a contemporary setting or it may be that they’re combining historical and current fiction topics but those are the things that people are starting to get very excited about,” Ms Powles says.

She says Maori writing seems to be going from strength to strength.

The first workshop is this Sunday at Manurewa Marae in Manukau City.


The elevation of Joe Williams to the High Court is being called a loss to the treaty claim process.

Justice Williams is currently chief judge of the Maori Land Court and the chair of the Waitangi Tribunal.

Before being put on the bench, he was the lawyer responsible for guiding the Muriwhenua land claim through the tribunal, which was then chaired by chief judge Eddie Durie.

Rima Edwards, the chair of Te Runanga o Muriwhenua, says he did an outstanding job.

“He was perhaps the only lawyer in the country, apart from Judge Durie himself, who could understand where Maori was coming from in the presentation of their culture, their tikanga before the tribunal. I think the claims process will miss him dearly in that respect,” Mr Edwards says.

Te Runanga o Muriwhenua is confident Justice Williams will do an extremely good job on the High Court.


The Greens Maori Affairs spokesperson is welcoming the impending passage of a bill which will allow women who give birth in prison to keep their babies with them for up to two years.

Metiria Turei says it will be a boon for Maori, who make up a disproportionate percentage of the prison population.

She says the previous policy of separating mothers and babies at six months left many mothers feeling depressed and helpless.

“Prison is a punishment. It doesn’t mean they should be bereft of every aspect of what it is to be a woman or be a mother. This is a basic human rights approach to treating women and children like they actually mean something, even if they are in jail,” Ms Turei says.

She says separating Mothers from their babies damaged the bonds needed to keep the whanau healthy.


A traditional weaver is hitting out at the way tertiary institutes charge to teach the art of raranga.

Aroha Puketapu-Dahm is a niece and student of the late Erenora Puketapu-Hetet and exhibited alongside her.

She says Te Wharepora or the House of Weaving is dying within hapu, because institutions are undermining the transmission of skills by women within their own hapu.

“When there's an exchange of money, there’s almost an expectation you come up with the goods. When there’s no exchange of money, there’s a different expectation, and expectation given from the whanau that you make them proud. There are just different values there with regard to what the institutes are doing, and leaning in an iwi-based capacity,” she says.

Puketapu-Dahm is part of Earth & Spirit, an exhibition of contemporary indigenous art from Australia and New Zealand, which opens next week in New Hampshire in the United States.


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