Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Labour to be Opposition Maori voice

The former Maori affairs minister says Labour will have a major role representing the views of Maori from the Opposition benches.

Parekura Horomia says the speed with which a support deal is coming together between the Maori Party and National has surprised many voters, and indicates a lot more groundwork was done than was revealed during the election campaign.

He says the Maori Party doesn't have a monopoly on Maori opinion and advocacy.

“For every one person who voted for the Maori Party, three voted for us so we’ve got a major representation of Maori views so we understand they are supportive of what we generally did with them. Not saying some thought we had flaws,” Mr Horomia says

He says claims by Maori Party and National MPs that Labour did nothing for Maori during its nine years in Government have no substance, and voters will find if National tries unwinding the gains.


Meanwhile, the low voter turn out in the Maori electorates could soon be a thing of the past.

Only 55 percent of enrolled voters in the Maori seats cast their ballots on Saturday, compared with a national average of just under 75 percent.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of Maori and Indigenous Studies at Canterbury University, says there's a wave of engaged rangatahi coming through who could turn the tide.

He says young people at events such as the Manu Korero secondary school speech competitions show political awareness and an interest in how tino rangatiratanga can work within a democracy.

“I've heard kids speak about that at my daughter’s primary school and I think that there is a great awareness of politics emerging in our younger generation but that generation is not yet of voting age but they will come along in the next election and the election after that,” Mr Taonui says.


A Ngati Kahungunu scientist has received a top award for his work developing free software that gives statisticians a powerful way to see data in visual formats.

Ross Ihaka from Auckland University's Department of Statistics picked up his Pickering prize at the Royal Society of New Zealand's annual award dinner.

The software, known is R, is now maintained and developed by a worldwide network of developers.

Dr Ihaka is working on a new generation of software to handle large volumes of data.


The Maori Party's Waiariki MP says securing the long term survival of the Maori seats is driving the likely link up with National.

The party is holding hui round the country asking members to endorse a deal which will give it ministerial positions outside of cabinet, in return for supporting National on confidence and supply.

Te Ururoa Flavell says the kai is on the table and there's little room for further negotiation.

He says legal advice on entrenching the Maori seats indicated the issue should be treated as part of a wider picture.

“In the end it’s part of a bigger issue and that’s around constitutional issues and where our people fit into that. That’s where we want to move top find a way of looking at the bigger constitutional issue about Maori representation in Parliament rather than just focus on the seats, so there’s a possibility of us being able to move into that discussion,” Mr Flavell says.

There could also be a review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act, rather than a guaranteed repeal.


A Maori forester says Maori must get involved in global carbon trading.

Chris Insley, the former head of Ngati Porou Forests and now director of economic development consultancy 37 Degrees South, says many Maori land-based organisations are nervous about the issue because of its complexity.

He says understanding the Kyoto Protocol and New Zealand's emissions trading system opens the door to a $90 billion dollar a year industry.

“Most of our economic activity is premised around our interest in land based activities like farming, forestry, increasingly our marine activities like fishing. All of these primary sector activities lend themselves to some economic activity or some new risk, and Maori don’t have much opportunity other than to take a keen interest in this,” Mr Insley says.


The Museum of New Zealand is studying records of early European contact to link human Maori remains back to their rightful iwi.

Later this month Manchester Museum in England will repatriate a skull, jaw and fish hook or hei matau made of human bone.

Researcher Nicola Smith says the items were donated to Manchester in 1884 by a Mr Slater.

That's a clue that may help identify where they were collected, using some of the files held by Te Papa.

“Lists of doctors who worked in New Zealand in the 1840s and ships that traveled through our waters so perhaps we could trace a name, link them to one of the ships so we can link up where the koiwi have been,” Ms Smith says.

Te Papa staff are in Manchester preparing for the return of the koiwi on the 24th of November.


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