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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Quick roll out wanted for Te Kotahitanga

There's calls for a rapid roll-out of a programme which changes the way teachers interact with Maori students.

Teachers, researchers and education officials involved with Te Kotahitanga have just finished a two day conference at Waikato University to share their experiences.

The conference heard that in the 12 original Te Kotahitanga schools, the average number of Maori passing NCEA level one has jumped from a third to a half.

Another 21 schools have been selected for the next phase of the project, but David Hood, the former head of the Qualifications Authority, says that's not enough.

“You know if you roll it out at the current rate, you’re talking 35 years, and I don’t think as a nation we’d be comfortable with having to wait another 35 years to address those disparities or even 10. I think if the government is really supportive of this project it has to look at ways it can roll it out fairly quickly,” Mr Hood says,

He says there can be some discomfort among teacher because te Kotahitanga challenges their ideas about learning, but it makes the job more professionally satisfying.

A spokesperson for Education Minister Ann Tolley says she reiterated to the conference the Government's election promise to expand the scheme, but progress depends on the success of budget bids and advice from officials.


Maori midfielder Riki Flutey has been confirmed to start this Sunday's test for England against the All Blacks.

The 28-year-old Ngati Porou professional rugby player suffered a hamstring injury in England's record 42-6 loss to the Springboks last week at Twickenham, but was named this morning in Martin Johnson's test side.

The former Maori All Black will play his fourth game in the English jersey after qualifiying for the team on residency grounds.

He's been in England since 2005 after stints with Wellington and the Hurricanes.

More New Zealanders are playing professional rugby in Europe than at home, with about 600 players a year heading north.


A play inspired by the Maori Battalion's Italian campaign was so popular, Taki Rua is taking it around the country a second time.

Strange Resting Places was co-written by Rob Mokaraka and Paolo Rotondo, a New Zealand actor with Italian whakapapa.

The Wellington-based theatre company's artistic director, James Ashcroft, says the play, which is performed in Maori, English and Italian, has really appealed to audiences since its premier last year.

“The centre of the play is really about a Maori and an Italian meeting in a barn during this war-torn time and looking at the similarities, the humour in the similarities and the humour in the differences,” Mr Ashcroft says.

Strange Resting Places will play next March the Rotorua Festival of the Arts, Te Ihi, te Wehi, followed by a season at the children's oriented Capital E National Arts Festival in Wellington.


The Maori spectrum trust is counting on the new Government to smoothe the roll out of a new national mobile phone network.

Te Huarahi Tika Trust, along with other Maori investors, has a 20 percent stake in New Zealand Communications, which will use frequencies reserved for Maori.

New Zealand Communications chair Bill Osborne says the company has so far invested $140 million into building its network.

He says the change of government won't stop that work, but it could affect the regulatory framework as new ministers and officials get to grips with what has been done so far in what is a highly-contested industry.

“To be fair the last government did create some momentum and I think that momentum will continue now no mater who’s in power. It’s just how fast it continues and how quickly people get to grips with issues is the real issue,” Mr Osborne says.

He says trustees from Te Huarahi Tika are helping New Zealand Communications consult with Maori and other communities as it seeks resource consents for cell sites around the country.


Petrol prices may be dropping, but a Maori farmer in the Far North is looking at another way to fill the tank.

Percy Tipene has just won the country's top organics prize, the Jon Manhire Award, for his work with Maori organic growers' collective Te Waka Kai Ora.

As well as growing beef, Mr Tipene has branched out into agrofuels ... using jatropha plants imported from India.

“We've planted around 4000 jatropha, looking at the potential self-sufficiency of small units or communities and we’re just looking at how we can generate our own power on our small blocks and perhaps encourage people to produce their own fuels to run their own vehicles,” Mr Tipene says.


The biographer of Ralph Hotere says the artist is a master of the evasive smokescreen, and it's a challenge to collect material.

Vincent O'Sullivan contributed an essay to a new book on the Te Aupouri artist's paintings, and he's working on a full biography which is targeted for completion in about two years.

He says Hotere insisted the book published this week by Auckland architect and collector Ron Sang be about pictures rather than words, and the high quality production will give him great satisfaction.

“It acknowledges him on a publishing scale that has not been attempted before. It’s a book we will return to and I suspect our children will return to as the kuaka return to the north in one of his masterpieces.

“His art is a spiritual taonga. It’s something we can’t imagine New Zealand being without,” Professor O'Sullivan says.

He is asking people with letters from Ralph Hotere to contact him through the Victoria University English department, as they are vital raw material for the biography.


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