Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ethics debate ignoring Maori

A leading Maori human rights lawyer is criticising successive governments for favouring scientific and economic interests over Maori.

Moana Jackson will be speaking today in Auckland at an international conference on the ethics of research involving indigenous peoples.

He says while Maori have campaigned to stop multi-national companies taking rongoa plants from indigenous people, governments have not protected what is rightfully Maori.

“Maori have been in the forefront in the sense of being involved internationally in trying to get some protections here at home, but have run up constantly against the brick wall of the Crown paying lip service often to Maori interests but not being willing to consider a Maori framework or even a Maori philosophy in relation to these issues,” Mr Jackson says.

Issues being looked at the three day hui include transgenic experimentation whereby human genes are placed in other species and the patenting of plants.


The country's first Maori child pyschologist is backing the Ombudsmen's call for more to be done to help students with behavioural difficulties to stay in school.

In the Office’s Annual Report to Parliament, the Chief Ombudsmen Beverley Wakem has argued that more consistent support needs to be available for students with behavioural difficulties in mainstream schools.

Donna Awatere Huata spent eight years as an educational psychologist in South Auckland... and is now the general manager for education services at the Waipareira Trust.

She says the Ombudsman, Beverley Wakem, has in bureaucratic language confirmed the fact that racism is alive and well in schools.

“We’ve known for a long time the Maori expulsion rate is double, treble and four times the non-Maori rate, and often for behaviours that are tolerated in their non-Maori students, so there is that factor definitely where people are willing to push the button where there is a Maori child in trouble, because there is this expectation there is not much you can do about it,” Mrs Awatere Huata says.

She says the three Maori education hui hosted this year by urban Maori authorities has shown there are solutions which require changing the attitude of teachers and giving them tools and strategies to deal with difficult students.


The Maori King has confirmed that he'll be heading north next year to take part in Waitangi Day commemorations in Te Tai Tokerau.

It will be his first visit since he became the leader of the Kingitanga in 2006.

Pita Paraone from the Waitangi Organising Committee says they're honoured that King Tuheitia will take part in the official ceremonies to mark the signing of the Treaty in 1840.

“But it's also an opportunity for the people of the Tai Tokerau to renew the blood ties between those of the Tai Tokerau to those of the Kingitanga and in particularly the Maori king and his family,” Mr Paraone says.

The organising committee is expecting a huge crowd at Waitangi in 2009 as February the sixth falls on a Friday, making it a long weekend.


Maori are moving to develop their own legal system rather than waiting for the Crown to come up with solutions to criminal offending by young Maori.

Human rights lawyer Moana Jackson says in 20 years since he wrote a report on Maori and the criminal justice system things have got worse with many more young Maori men and women in prison.

He says last week's Kahungunu justice hui looked at ways Maori could remedy the situation.

“You can’t look at criminal offending of young Maori in isolation from the much broader context of history and the social and economic forces which shape our people, so building more prisons isn’t the answer. What you have to do is rebuild and correct the damage that has been done to Maori society.

“Many of the recommendations that have been made by our people over the years on this matter have been ignored by the Crown so it’s perhaps time for Maori people to look at what we can do ourselves,” Mr Jackson says.

Solutions such as Maori setting up their own independent disputes resolutions systems will be developed by a working party and taken to iwi around the country.


He may be in his seventies, but Hekenukumai Busby has no plans to hit the couch just yet.

The Ngati Kahu and Te Rarawa man who's led the revival of ocean voyaging and navigation in traditional waka in New Zealand is keen to keep going to sea.

He's built 25 ocean going waka so far ... and is looking forward to taking his crew to Hawaii in 2010 as part of a documentary that Rawiri Paratene is filming about whales.

Mr Busby who is currently circumnavigating the North Island says it's been a while since he planned a major trip... but he's getting his sea legs again.

“My last voyage was to New Caledonia in 2000 and I haven’t been on a trip since then. It was pretty hard the first couple of days but now they rocking around on the waka sort of shaken me up an bit and feel a lot better, you know,” Mr Busby says.


Labour will be holding a series of meeting saround the country asking Maori why so few of them voted in the last election.

Labour leader Phil Goff says just 52 percent of Maori voted which was an incredibly low turnout, with 50 percent voting Labour, 30 percent the Maori party and 8 percent National.

“So I will be in a series of meetings with Maori over the next weeks and months saying to people tell us what your concerns are, tell us why you think it was people didn’t get out and vote for what they probably knew in their hearts was a better government from their perspective in economic and social terms.

“We’ve got to reconnect with the people. We’ve got to make sure that in 2011 we get that community out and voting because I’m confident if they do, they will be supporting a Labour government ahead of a National government,” Mr Goff says.


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