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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Policies could go for coalition deal

National Party leader John Key is indicating he is willing to drop National's plan to ax the Maori seats if that's the price of Maori Party support after the election.

Political columnist Jane Clifton this week floated the idea that if the Maori Party demanded a review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act and of the Maori seat policy, National would play along.

Mr Key says while getting rid of the seats is long-standing party policy, it's not an issue New Zealanders go to bed worrying about.

“If we're in a position to put together a deal with potentially the Maori Party, then we’ll sit down and talk to them about those issues and I have no doubt they’ll raise those kinds of issues with us and MMP is a world where you have to live with compromises and things,” Mr Key says.

He says there are many areas where National is in agreement with the Maori Party.

RARE MIX OF SKILLS AND TIKANGA COMING TO HIGH COURT

The Minister of Maori Affairs says Joe Williams will bring a rare mix of skills to the High Court.

The current Maori Land Court chief judge will be sworn in to the court next week, and he'll be based in Auckland.

Parekura Horomia says Justice Williams has made major contributions to both the Maori Land Court and the Waitangi Tribunal, which he chairs.

He will bring a bicultural dimension to the High Court.

“He's steeped in his tikanga, his language. He’s lived it. He’s practiced it. He’s defended it, and he also brings the upper level skills, the rare ability in the international field to have somebody who is steeped and skilled on both his own culture and the law of the land,” Mr Horomia says.

Judge Wilson Isaac will take over as Maori Land Court Chief Judge.

National's Maori Affairs spokesperson Tau Henare, who was Maori affairs minister in 1999 when Justice Williams was made a judge, says the appointment is tainted because it was made too close to the election.

ANTI LABOUR SONG POPULAR PICK

A song written in anger about the Seabed and Foreshore Act has won the top Maori honour at the APRA Silver Scrolls.

Rere Reta Rere Rata by Ruia Aperahama won the Maioha Award at last night’s presentation.

Aperahama says the traditional Maori way to mark an historic occasion is through waiata.

“That song is highly political. I hold no punches, and in the song it says ‘he nga tonu Roopu Reipa,’ that was the sentiments of our people out there when 20,000 marched on Parliament and the feelings I felt out there was Labour, you are going to fall,” Aperahama says.

He has since softened his views about Labour's performance.

AUPOURI FOOD BASKET PUT IN RESERVE

Simmering tension over the harvest of mussel spat on 90 Mile Beach has led to the Minister of Fisheries agreeing in principle to a taiapure in the waters surrounding Te Wakatehaua Island or the Bluff.

Louise Mischewski, the secretary of Te Aupouri Fisheries Trust, says the local fishery reserve will allow the iwi to sit down with the commercial harvesters to discuss bylaws for the area.

She says the waters around Te Wakatehaua are an important food basket for te Aupouri, but they have come under pressure from the mussel spat industry.

“The mussel spat by nature will attach itself to the Bluff and as part of the life cycle it provides a food source for the fish and the fish get drawn into the bluff and then that supplies the food source for our people, so we just want to make sure that that continues,” Ms Mischewski says.

Spat harvesting is unlikely to be prohibited, but it may be more regulated.

HENARE CRIES FOUL AT TIMING OF WILLIAMS’ ELEVATION

National's Maori affairs spokesperson is crying foul over the appointment of a Maori to the High Court.

Joe Williams from Ngati Pukenga and Te Arawa, who's currently chief judge of the Maori Land Court and chairman of the Waitangi Tribunal, will be sworn into his new job next week.

Tau Henare says the Government is ignoring a political convention that major appointments not be made within three weeks of an election.

“I think Joe’s a fantastic choice but it would have been better done a while back outside that three month period. Any appointments that are made within that three month convention look very much like political appointments and I’m afraid it sort of taints the reputation of those who have been appointed quite frankly,” Mr Henare says.

Judge Wilson Isaac will replace Justice Williams as chief judge of the Maori Land Court.

WORKSHOPS TO BOOST WRITING TALENT POOL

Budding Maori writers are encouraged to attend a series of Maori writers' workshops being held across the country to celebrate New Zealand Book Month.

Organiser Michelle Powles says the aim is to build the number of Maori submitting work to publishing houses.

The success of veteran writers like Patricia Grace, Kerry Hulme and Witi Ihimaera is inspiring a new generation of scribes, and the workshops will help them refine their craft.

David Geary, Aroha Harris, James George and Apirana Taylor will take the workshops, starting this Sunday morning at Manurewa marae.

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