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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ngati Kahu agreement signed

Ngati Kahu's negotiator says her far north iwi has beaten the odds in winning back contol of its ancestral lands.

An agreement in principle was signed at Kareponia Marae near Kaitaia today.

It includes the return of the 3700 hectare Rangiputa Station, which was occupied last year to stop Landcorp selling off coastal sections, and 1200 hectares of reserves.

There will also be a statutory board to give Ngati Kahu a say in managing Conservation land in the region.

Margaret Mutu says while some iwi members are upset Ngati Kahu isn't getting all its land back, it's doing better than most other iwi who have settled.

“Throughout the country the average amount of land that gets returned in a settlement is 0.06 percent and my research over the years has shown that. Ngati Kahu is getting back 20 percent of our lands. We’re getting back control of 20 percent of our lands either in fee simple title or other mechanisms that make sure we control our lands,” Professor Margaret Mutu.

She says says Crown negotiator Pat Snedden was so shocked at the poverty in the region, he convinced the Government to add an extra $7.5 million for marae redevelopment and housing support.


A Maori candidate in Mangere believes he could be in with a chance in the Labour stronghold because of a potential split in the Pacific island vote.

Mita Harris is standing for National in a seat where traditionally his party hasn't had a look in.

He says there are three strong candidates with Pacific island roots ... incumbent MP Philip Field, Labour list MP William Sio and Jerry Filipaina from the Family Party.

“You've got three I guess very significant Polynesian community leaders running here in Mangere. It will be kind of hard I guess for the Pacific Island community to go with one. I have a feeling they are going to follow in threes with those three, and that could make the dynamics really interesting,” Mr Harris says.

The odds are against him, as last election National's candidate Clem Simich only picked up 3600 votes, 16,000 behind Mr Field.


Manukau truancy officers say they deserve more pay because of the challenges they face.

The officers last week picketed their Otara headquarters to demand an increase in salary from $33,000 to 40,000 a year.

Union delegate Pat Kake says that's a modest demand, with truant officers in other regions getting up to $60,000.

He says most of 1200 truants referred by south Auckland schools each term are Maori, and the officers go beyond the call to duty to do their best for them.

“We do have a job description but I think expectations go way beyond it because they’re our people, we want the best for them. We just go way outside the job description. The normal truancy officer in other areas would probably pick them up, take them back to school, end of story. But we try and intervene and try and make changes,” Mr Kake says.


One of the people behind the Black Power treaty claim believes a successful outcome could spell the end of the gang in its current form.

Dennis O'Reilly says the gang wants to tell its story, and to draw the links between colonialism and Maori disadvantage.

He says it's an example of the community action advocated by influential Brazilian educator Paolo Friere.

“It's based on the philosophy of Paolo Friere who says you take the issues that focus around people’s lives, you help to conscietise them about those things and as people get conscious they start to separate out their own actions, their omissions and faults, from the systemic things that impact upon them,” Mr O'Reilly says.

Je says attorney general Michael Cullen is mistaken in saying Black Power has no right to take the claim, and he should be applauding the fact the gang is using legal channels to pursue its members' interests.


Meanwhile another non-iwi group has filed a claim challenging the impact of colonialism on its members.

Four prominent unionists have asked the Waitangi Tribunal to look at the historic shift of Maori off the land and into low skill and low wage occupations.

Syd Keepa from the National Distribution Union, who convenes the CTU runanga, says that had an impact of the whole society.

“A lot of our kaumatua in those days were actually leaders in the Maori community but their day jobs were very low skill. And of course all the reforms over the years that have thrown a lot of our people onto the scrapheap and fundamentally, that’s what the claim's about,” Syd Keepa says.

The claimants, who also include CTU Maori vice-president Sharon Clair, Matt McCarten from Unite and Tangi Tipene from the Association of Salaries Tertiary Educators, will be holding hui to get wider support for the claim from Maori workers.


Exponents of traditional Maori martial arts are considering pushing for mainstream qualifications.

Tania Stanley from Taranaki, the most highly qualified wahine at the Te Whare Tu Taua, says those who gain proficiency in mau rakau or taiaha deserve acknowledgement in both the Maori and Pakeha worlds.

She says other Maori performing arts earn New Zealand Qualifications Authority credits, and there are talks about the Maori school of weaponry seeking certification.

“Our mau rakau is ebing taught in whare kura, even our mainstream schools and we are now looking at how to alight it with NZQA unit standards that are out there already so our tauira who love our mau rakau are also getting recognised through the credits, so tea or Pakeha and te ao Maori,” Ms Stanley says.


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