Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, September 08, 2008

Tour fee a necessity

The chair of the Maori Tourism Council says many operators are undervaluing their product ... and themselves.

More than 150 delegates are expected at Rotorua this morning for the annual Maori tourism conference.

John Barrett says it's a great opportunity for Maori operators to network and develop consistency through the industry.

Mr Barrett, who runs an ecotourism venture on his family land on Kapiti Island, says Maori tourism has huge potential, but operators must get pricing right.

“I was in that position a few years ago, a bit frightened to ask for he money. I know a colleague sometimes didn’t even ask for the money, he’d have such a good time with his guests and visitors he wouldn’t even charge them. But I think pricing is an issue for us, setting the right level. A lot of our people undervalue their product and themselves,” Mr Barrett says.


Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira is welcoming a proposal to increase the powers of the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The authority, which replaced the much-criticised Police Complaints Authority in November, is headed by Justice Lowell Goddard from Ngati Te Upokoiri, Ngati Kahungungu and Tuhoe.

It can only recommend police lay charges - and rely on them to make arrests.

Under the proposed changes, the authority could be given the power to arrest and charge police who break the law.

Mr Harawira says police don't like arresting each other.

“That's why they had that big (Margaret) Bazley report last year which highlighted all this stuff going on like cops hiding information under the table and hiding evidence and badgering witnesses and all that sort of stuff so this is really good, not just for Maoris always being banged around by police but also for the credibility of the police themselves,” Mr Harawira says.

He says police must be seen to be answerable to the law.


Veteran actor George Henare is humbled by an award acknowledging his contribution to Maori theatre.

The 63 year old Ngati Porou man is this year's winner of Te Waka Toi's Te Tohu Toi Ke, which recognises an individual making a significant positive difference to the development and retention of Maori arts and culture in their chosen field.

Mr Henare, who grew up on a farm inland from Te Aroroa, has starred in numerous stage shows, television and film productions, and was awarded an OBE in 1988 for services to theatre.

“It's been the most enjoyable job I’ve ever done. It’s been the only one I’ve done, for 43 years. I feel really humbled for being recognised for doing something I really enjoy doing,” Mr Henare says.


Ngapuhi's chairman says the English translation of the Treaty of Waitangi is responsible for a century and a half of havoc and dispossession for Maori.

Sonny Tau says the Ngapuhi claim design group wants to open its hearings by putting on record the northern iwi's understandings of the treaty, passed down from the ancestors who were first to sign in 1840.

He says they signed the Maori version, but the Crown has pushed its understanding of the English version, that sovereignty was to be transferred from Maori, rather than shared.

“The Crown has full and final control over everything in this country including the laws that confiscated our lands, the laws that continue to suppress us as a people, and the position we’ve found ourselves in through the promulgation of those laws,” Mr Tau says.

A decision on whether the claim got to a hearing should be made at a Waitangi Tribunal judicial conference in Waitangi on September 25.


The warmer weather is a boon for people interested in collecting traditional Maori kai from the bush.

Rotorua based chef Charles Royal, an authority on traditional foods, says there is kai in abundance in the ngahere at the moment.

But it's not for the novice gourmet ... it's easy to make mistakes, and some of the fungi around now are particularly poisonous.

“Pikopiko's out now. Hakeka, the ear fungus. Pirita’s out, which is the supplejack vine. You look for the end bits, break off about two inches, three inches. When you eat it, it’s like a cucumber, beany flavour so that’s out at the moment. Boletti mushrooms, which grow on the edge of the pine or in the pine,” Mr Royal says.

He warns that people keen to try the age old delicacies should either refer to books or get someone who knows which plants are edible.


The co-author of a centenary history of Maori rugby league says it was a privilege to be asked to put the book together.

John Coffey, a Christchurch-based sports journalist and rugby league historian, teamed up with Wellington League stalwart Bernie Woods to compile a definitive record of Maori involvement in the thirteen man game, at the invitation of Maori Rugby League chairman Howie Tamati.

They'd previously collaborated on Kiwi, a history of the national team.
Research started across the Tasman.

“There were three early tours to Australia before the second world war, so we had to go over to Australia to research all that in the State Library of New South Wales. We researched the rest around the North Island mainly and have ended up with a book of which both of use are extremely proud,” Mr Coffey says.

The book will be launched this evening in Parlaiment's Maori Affairs committee room.


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