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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Glassie verdict brings community challenge

Maori communities are being challenged to take full responsibility for the security of every child.

Hone Kaa, from child advocacy group Te Kahui Mana Ririki, says the horrific abuse that killed Rotorua three-year-old Nia Glassie can only occur if adults ignore the signs.

Nia's mother, Lisa Kuka, was yesterday found guilty of two counts of manslaughter. Her and then-boyfriend, Wiremu Curtis, and his brother, Michael Curtis, were found guilty of murdering the toddler.

Dr Kaa says his trust is about to start a series of workshops for iwi and whanau.

“The idea is to see just exactly what each community can do to provide solutions within those communities. We’re starting in a rural community but at some point we have to hit the urban communities and I guess the problem there will be to get to those who actually require the help,” Dr Kaa says.

The hui will try to build on social marketing campaigns like "It's not ok", which are starting to have an impact.

COALITION BEST PARTNERSHIP YET

A Maori historian says on paper the deal between National and the Maori Party is the best partnerships yet struck between Pakeha and Maori.

John Key took his oath of office this morning, making him New Zealand's 38th prime minister and at 47 one of the youngest.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of Maori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Canterbury, says the deal Mr Key negotiated to bring Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia into his ministry is simple and honest.

“There's a good balance of respecting each other’s points of views. There’s some real opportunities for Maori in there, a much better deal than the Maori Party would have got from Labour and there’s real progress on things like the foreshore and the seabed in a simple, clear sighted position, recognise Maori rights but don’t deny Pakeha access to the foreshore, and of course the seats, the Maori Party has probably secured the Maori seats for another generation or so,” Mr Taonui says.

He says the deal compares well with previous attempts at partnership including the Treaty of Waitangi and Ratana's covenant with Labour.

TE AURERE SET FOR NORTH ISLAND CIRCUMNAVIGATION

In Mangonui, last minute preparations are being made for the departure of Te Aurere on a circumnavigation of the North Island.

The double-hulled voyaging waka is due to leave on Sunday, with its first stop Hokianga.

It will be captained on the southward leg by its builder, 76 year old Hekenukumai Busby.

He'll be holding wananga at each stop, as well as taking on rangatahi who want to crew for a leg.

Mr Busby says while he will be using and teaching traditional navigation, there is also a global positioning satellite receiver on board.

“We'll probably be using the GPS. It’s more dangerous going around the island than across the ocean. We will probably use it at night, just for safety,” Mr Busby says.

The aim is to reach Porirua by December the 19th, and then sail back up the East Coast after the Christmas break to arrive in the Bay of Islands for Waitangi Day.

BUDGET REVIEW FIRST PRIORITY

A budget review is the first priority for incoming Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples.

Vote Maori Affairs under the Labour led government grew to $189 million, including $90 million to run Te Puni Kokiri and related activities and $70 million on Maori television and radio broadcasting.

Dr Sharples says his aim is not to make cuts, but to understand better where the money is going.

“Being on the Maori Affairs select committee for many years, it’s really easy to attack the spending of a department that is supposed to do everything. I’m hoping to have a good look at the budget and how it’s spent and where there’s money required for different parts of the Maori affairs portfolio, we will advocate for that,” Dr Sharples says.

CONGRATULATIONS FROM THE BIG MAN

Meanwhile, the former Maori Affairs minister is wishing his successor well.

Parekura Horomia says Pita Sharples has a big job on his hands, and he will be closely scrutinised.

“I want to wish those in the Maori Party that have the status that Tariana and Pita have, albeit outside of Cabinet, all the very best, but we will be in the House and we certainly will be talking out point of view and looking forward to how things pan out,” Mr Horomia says.

He says new Prime Minister John Key put Pita Sharples into the role to broaden his government's appeal.

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT CHANGE COULD SHUT MAORI OUT

The Greens Maori affairs spokesperson says Maori could be shut out of consideration of environmental issues.

Meteria Turei says the Resource Management Act has given Maori an avenue to challenge development proposals that have an adverse effect on the whenua.

That could be at risk if the new Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, a long time critic of the RMA, gets to change the rules.

“ACT's intention to gut the RMA is going to lock Maori in particular and communities in general out of decisions about environmental issues and that’s been a National Party priority for a long time, it’s been ACT’s priority for a long time. That’s going to be the biggest risk, they will be locked out yet again,” Ms Turei says.

FIRST SCHOLARSHIPS OFFER CHANCE AT UNIVERSITY STUDY

Scholarships from the Foundation for Indigenous Research in Society & Technology are sending two students from low decile One Tree Hill College to university.

Winner Shanna Rope says tertiary education would have been unlikely without the scholarship, which includes mentoring and work experience.

She says the award has given a boost to the whole whanau, which has struggled to cope on her mother's single income.

Shanna Rope will study communications at AUT University.

Another scholarship went to her classmate Julia May Aramoana

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