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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ron gang claim off the Mark

New Zealand First's law and order spokesperson says Black Power's treaty claim is an insult to iwi.

The gang wants the Waitangi Tribunal to draw links between colonialism and the situation its members find themselves in.

Ron Marks says Black Power members make a conscious decision to commit crimes, so they shouldn't blame the government ... and they shouldn't try to piggyback on iwi.

“Any notion of Black Powers’ that they are a hapu and iwi entity is absolute garbage and would not be accepted by mainstream Maori. I mean are we going to have the Lions establish themselves as a hapu and iwi? Are you going to have White Power do the same, simply because they can find somewhere there is a whakapapa link back to some corner of Maoridom,” Mr Mark says

He says Black Power gang members belong to their own respective iwi through which they can place claims.

NZ FIRST LAWMAKER LACKS UNDERSTANDING OF LAW

But Auckland University law school deputy dean David Williams, who has been advising claimants for more than 20 years, says Black Power members have a legal right to lodge a claim.

Professor Williams says the Treaty of Waitangi Act makes no mention of iwi or hapu.

“Waitangi Tribunal jurisdiction is not based on organisations, it’s based on if you are a Maori and you have an issue with the Crown, you can lodge a claim. So any Maori person may lodge a claim with the tribunal and they can do it as a collective group and they can nominate a collective group but the requirement is the claimants be Maori,” Professor Williams says.

The argument that the least educated, most marginalised urban Maori are victims of longstanding Crown politics has some substance, and echoes what many respected Maori leaders have said.

WOMEN WELCOMES INTO TAIAHA CLASSES

The most qualified wahine in the field of mau rakau or taiaha is welcoming the interest of other women in the traditional martial art.

Tania Stanley is a level 8 or pou waru practioner at Te Whare Taua O Aotearoa, the school of Maori weaponry set up by Pita Sharples.

She says two other women are now going for senior pou, which should help rekindle the use of taiaha by wahine.

“Every iwi had women fighters but it was the way they fought, whether it was with weapons, without weapons. There were wahine toa in every iwi. I think for us now, it’s about maintaining the matauranga so it won't get lost,” Ms Stanley says.

Te Whare Taua O Aotearoa is considering seeking New Zealand Qualifications Authority certification for its taiaha gradings.

CULLEN CLUELESS ON GANG CLAIM VALIDITY

A leading treaty lawyer says a Black Power treaty claim should be given serious consideration.

Treaty negotiations Minister Michael Cullen says there is no legal basis for Black Power to lodge its claim, because the treaty was between the Crown and iwi hapu.

But David Williams, the deputy dean of Auckland University's law faculty, says the Treaty of Waitangi Act allows any Maori to bring a claim.

He says what Black Power is saying about the links between gangs and colonialism echoes what respected Maori leaders have been saying for years.

“The argument that the least educated, most marginalised urban Maori are victims of policies that go back a very long way in our history of marginalizing Maori and Maori communities pretty obviously has some substance and may indeed be worth looking at in an appropriate time and place. It certainly should not be dismissed out of hand,” Professor Williams says.

Gang members will need to prove a causal connection between specific Crown policies and the situation they find themselves in.

ODDS TOUGH FOR TAINUI WIN

A former Labour MP says the election race in the Waikato-Tainui electorate will be a test for the Maori Party brand.

In a rematch of 2005, Labour's Nanaia Mahuta is trying to defend her seat against Waikato university lecturer Angeline Greensill.

Ms Greensill, the daughter of the late Eva Rickard of Raglan Golf Course occupation fame, came up 1860 votes short last election.

That was a much closer margin than when she'd contested the seat for the Mana Maori Party.

John Tamihere says it's not a personality competition.

“So rather than Angeline winning the seat, I think the power of the Maori brand has a lot to do with it. She might have a personal following, but it’s never got her across the winner’s line since she’s been running for about the last four or five elections,” Mr Tamihere says.

MAUI CREATOR EYING GERMAN SEASON

The creator of Maui: One Man Against the Gods is talking with German producers about staging the ambitious stage show there.

Tanemahuta Grey has been pitching the 30-person show to arts festivals worldwide, but the cost of staging it means buyers want to see the full production before committing themselves.

He says there is the prospect of a short season in 2010 in Germany, where there is keen interest in Maori culture.

“If you can break into the European market and dip your feet in, as the Germans want us to do, dip our toes in, and if the four weeks go really well they will look to bring us back for a 16 to 20 week season and then keep building it from there and that gives us a much bigger chance to do longer tours all around the European continent, Britain and then hopefully one day into London’s West End and then Broadway New York.” Mr Grey says.

While he's waiting for his directing career to resume, he's putting his acting hat back on and auditioning for the New Zealand production of Starlight Express.

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