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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, October 17, 2008

Marae restoration in Makino deal

A negotiator for Ngati Makino says the Bay of Plenty iwi got a better settlement by going it alone than if it had stayed within a Te Arawa or central North Island collective.

The iwi yesterday signed an agreement in principle to settle its historic claims relating to confiscations and Crown land purchase activity in the 1800s.

Lawyer Annette Sykes says the deal is worth about $20 million, including grants for marae restoration, $6.6 million in cash compensation and 40 percent of the Rotoehu Forest.

“If we'd stayed in the CNI we would have been in an argument for at least two years over who has mana whenua over which part, and Ngati Makino has already been waiting too long and the mana whenua argument may require some significant compromise which we felt we we’d already been subjected to by the imposition of earlier Crown policies,” Ms Sykes says.

The government also signed an agreement with Te Puke-based Waitaha, including $7.5 million in financial redress, funding for education and marae restoration, and the transfer of several public reserves.

INDIGENOUS DECLARATION STILL ON AGENDA

The Council of Trade Unions is inviting the government to attend a hui to discuss implementation of the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Maori vice president Sharon Clair has just returned from a meeting of the Indigenous People's Caucus in Geneva, which was observing the deliberations of the Expert Mechanism, a new group which will provide advice to the Human Rights Commission on issues of concern to indigenous people.

She says even though New Zealand is one of only four countries which refused to sign the declaration, it is willing to look at it on an issue by issue basis.

“There is a general support and excitement about this group and New Zealand government also at the forum stated their support for the Expert Mechanism, so whilst we are taking small steps, those small steps are being taken and are gaining greater understanding and hopefully ratification of that declaration,” Ms Clair says.

The hui will be held in Wellington next week, whether or not the Government turns up.


WORK FOR THE DOLE DODGY POLICY

The Minister of Maori Affairs is staggered by the Maori Party's plans to introduce a "work for the dole" scheme if it makes up part of the government after the next election.

Parekura Horomia says it adds weight to the idea the Party may link up with National and Act after November 8.

He says if the aim is to get more Maori into work, cutting benefits is not going to get the job done.

“You gotta understand the labour market and cutting benefits doesn’t correct the issue. You can cut people’s benefits, but what you’ve got to do is build their skill sets and make sure they have a pathway into employment, income and have quality training and that’s what’s our Schools Plus and the focus on tertiary education is about at the moment,” Mr Horomia says.

CIRCUMSTANCE FORCE RAUKAWA TO MAKE MARAE STUDY WORK

Te Wananga o Raukawa finally has money for brick and mortar - but it has found Maori prefer to do their tertiary study on marae.

The Government has signed off on a settlement of the wananga's claim that it was denied the capital funding that went to the rest of the nation's universities.

Turoa Royal, the chair of the wananga's council, says it's in no hurry to spend the $50 million putea.

He says many of its 1700 students prefer to do their courses on a network of affiliated marae, rather than come in to the Otaki campus.

“Now we have marae-based studies and most of the students are studying their degrees, their programmes, on their local marae. It’s helped us in terms of capital works. We didn’t have to outlay funding for buildings. They’re already there with the marae already having the facilities for us to teach and sleep and eat,” Mr Royal says.

He says marae are the ideal place to produce bilingual and bicultural graduates.

DOCTORAL STUDENTS PONDER OBLIGATION TO IWI

Meanwhile, Maori post-graduate students are being urged to apply their skills to benefit their iwi.

Patricia Johnston, the indigenous graduate head at Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, says that's the focus of this Maori Doctoral Conference at the Whakatane-based campus this weekend, which has attracted more than 100 Maori PhDs and doctoral students from Kaitaia to Otako.

Professor Johnston says graduates are looking for ways to return something to the people they came from.

“We've often heard people say ‘these people with doctorates, they can’t help us’ and so one of the primary focuses has been about trying to make those sorts of connections between what we do and how it can benefit our communities more meaningfully. It goes beyond the individual. Whatever they do can benefit back into Maori communities,” Professor Johnston says.

UREWERA 18 DEPOSITIONS RESULT TODAY

The 18 people arrested in the so-called terror raids of a year ago find out today if they will be tried on arms charges.

Police allege the 18, including artist and Tuhoe rights campaigner Tame Iti, attended camps in the Urewera ranges last year at which guns were present.

The Solicitor general refused to allow the police to lay charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

Judge Mark Perkins, who will give his reserved decision at the Auckland District Court this morning, barred reporting of evidence given at the depositions hearing because of concerns publication could prejudice a trial.

Taitokerau MP Hone Harawira says whatever the judge's decision, police commissioner Howard Broad should resign for the way the police acted, particularly in the eastern Bay of Plenty.

“He's the one who went and big-mouthed terrorism to the whole nation and scared everyone into backing the police action when in fact he failed. He failed miserably. He surrounded the whole of Ruatoki and only got one person. He harassed the lives of a whole community for one arrest,” Mr Harawira says.

He says the Maori Party will always back the principles of freedom of speech and the right of Maori to protest the loss of their land.

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