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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Maori Party ponders National role

The Maori Party is seriously considering having a role within the National Government ... with the idea of ministerial posts outside of Cabinet discussed yesterday.

National already has the numbers to govern with ACT and United Future promising support on confidence and supply, but John Key wants to also involve the Maori Party.

Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples ... the co-leaders of the Maori Party... described their talks with the Prime Minister Elect as very cordia" and extremely constructive.

The Maori Party is set to have a round of hui with party members, but the co-leaders predicted this could be done quickly, now that they no longer have to toss up between supporting Labour or National.

Dr Sharples says the choice is now between being in Opposition, or having a degree of influence on Government policy.

Throughout the election the Maori Party has indicated that health, education and employment are their chief concerns and how improvements for Maori can be achieved in these areas will be central to discussions at hui.

PIONEERS THE OVERSHADOWED BATTALION

A Maori historian says although the Pioneer Battalion were overshadowed by Maori efforts during World War Two they are not forgotten.

Dr Monty Soutar says the contribution of the two and a half thousand-strong Maori contingent, which became the Pioneer Battalion in 1914 was huge.

“Had there not been a Maori Battalion in World War II, we would look back to those of our tipuna who fought in World War I as the heroes that we pay tribute to the Maori Battalion in the same way. They’ve been overshadowed by our uncles and fathers of Worlds War II but they were toa certainly and they had that reputation in World War I,” he says.

Dr Soutar is making a presentation on the Pioneer Battalion at midday in the National Library as part of the Armistice Talks series celebrating 75 years since the end of the war.

POLICE PROVING EFFECTIVE STIOPPING PLAYGROUND FIGHTS

The pilot project putting police in schools is having great success in breaking down gang influence among young Maori and Pacific Islanders according to police working in South Auckland colleges.

Tai Benedito who is based at Mangere College says Cops in Schools works closely with school counselors giving students direction of how to lead their lives both inside and outside school.

He says the both staff and the kids have given the police a very good receptions at the schools.

“What we have seen so far is the gang colours used to be quite high in the schools. That’s really died off. The resources that used to be put out for front line policing used to be quite horrendous. You used to have frontline guys going to all the fights and disorderlies, whereas as cops in schools we pretty much see when the fight is about to happen so we come in before it even erupts,” Mr Benedito says.

The pilot project has been going six months with officers spending 15 hours a week dedicated time at each school in the project.

LABOUR LEADERSHIP WITHOUT TRACK RECORD ON MAORI

Former Alliance president Matt McCarten believes National has done more to understand Maori issues than the new leaders of the Labour Party.

He says neither Phil Goff nor deputy Annette King have a history of coming to grips with Maori issues.

“The whole Maori allegiance to Labour is now in a state of play, particularly in the last few days. That’s up for grabs and the National Party know it and they’ll be going out of their way, and to some extent it is that Bill English in particular has gone out of his way to cultivate and build relationships with Maori all over New Zealand whereas Goff doesn’t have that reputation. He’s a bit of taking it for granted and he’s got some catch up work to do,” Mr McCarten says

MAORI WAR EXPERIENCES FAR DIFFERENT TO PAKEHA COMRADES

Historian Monty Soutar says Maori experiences of World War I and after are far different to their Pakeha comrades.

Dr Soutar says the large numbers from Te Arawa, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Porou who became the 2000-strong Pioneer Battalion were keen to prove their warrior stock, but they were often given menial tasks.

Even on their homecoming the Pioneer Battalion veterans weren't treated equally to Pakeha survivors.

“Historians of late claim that New Zealand came of age because of participation in World War I, broke away from the mother country England. I would argue that for Maori that wasn’t the case. They came home to resume their position as second class citizens in this country and it was many decades later the we as Maori were able to claim that we had come of age,” he says.

Dr Soutar is making a presentation at the National Library in Wellington at noon to mark 90 years since Armistice day.

MANUKAU HOSTS MAORI LEADERSHIP SUMMIT

A three day summit conference to set a future direction for Maori over the next decade started in Manukau City yesterday.

One of the organisers, Wiremu Docherty, says Maori development over the last 20 to 30 years has been about language revitalisation, knowledge, culture and how that can be embedded in the education system.

“And the question is or the next 20-30 years, what is it that Maori collectively want to push and fight for.

“If it’s going to be education again, all well and good. But this is about holding a discussion to ponder some thoughts as to what could be some trends for the next 20 years.

“Iwi are going through a process of iwi settlements so there is going to be notions around financial management, business management. Some of the education stuff hasn’t quite been bedded in. And it’s just around getting some key people along to have some discussions about those aspects,” Mr Docherty says.

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