Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

RMA reform could put Maori offside

A planned overhaul of the Resource Management Act could create tension between the Maori Party and National.

Environment Minister Nick Smith intends to introduce a bill in February to streamline consent processes, and another one later to deal with water allocation and other more complex issues.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of Maori and ethnic studies at Canterbury University, says Maori feel the RMA has for the first time given them effective tools to defend waahi tapu and other areas of concern.

He says if the Maori Party were to back the reforms, it could alienate its supporters.

“Most Maori support the partnership between the Maori Party and National but there’s that tension in that relationship between the right wing economics and making Maori progress so it’s going to be interesting to see what they do with that,” Mr Taonui says.

He says the Resource Management Act reform could be an even bigger turn off the Maori Party supporters than the 90 day fire at will Act.


The Green's Foreign Affairs spokesperson says New Zealand should be embarrassed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Keith Locke says the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a logical extension of the original document ... but New Zealand is one of only two countries which has refused to sign it.

He says it shouldn't be such a major issue for the government because of progress already made on treaty issues.

“The nature of all of these treaties is to lay down your fundamental principles and one of the principles is the right of people who’ve been done an injustice, who’ve been tricked or whatever to full compensation and then, on that basis, you work out what’s a practical response which is exactly what the treaty settlement process is all about,” Mr Locke says.


The chair of Ngati Kahungunu has his sights set on the Pacific in his quest to unite people around the idea of Hawaiiki, the legendary Polynesian homeland.

The iwi last month hosted a gathering in Hastings of descendants of the Takitimu waka, which features in the traditional stories of many of the islands in Polynesia.

Ngahiwi Tomoana says as a result of that people are discussing a pan-Pacific Hawaiiki brand which can be used to promote ventures selling fish, fruit, fuels and other commodities from the region.

He's also been offered land on Rarotonga to set up a research centre, Te Kura o Hawaiiki.

“That talks about the oral traditions of Hawaiki, that will pull these traditions in from all the other islands in order to regurgitate and refine and develop these concepts and ideas into the modern framework,” Mr Tomoana says.

He'd like to see a fleet of double-hulled voyaging waka sailing round the world, completing the journey started by the ancestors.


Like a nightmare that won't go away, two Ngati Kahungunu hapu are in the Environment Court fighting a line company's plans for a wind farm on their maunga.

Unison Networks wants to put turbines on Te Waka Range near Te Pohue, on the Napier-Taupo Road.

Tania Hopmans from Ngati Tu says the maunga is sacred to her hapu and Ngati Hineuru.

She says the company is resubmitting a plan which has already been knocked back because of the area's outstanding natural and cultural features.

“Changes in the project which is the reduction from 37 to 34 turbines are pretty much a joke. From all other respects the project is pretty much the same. Previously we had argued against this wind farm in the environment court, and subsequently in the High Court and we were successful in both of those cases,” Ms Hopmans says.

The hapu will start presenting its witnesses tomorrow, and the court has shifted to a conference room in Napier's Kennedy Park Motor Camp to cope with the expected number of supporters.


A Maori breast cancer survivor says while it's pleasing to see the new government honour its promise to fund Herceptin, one year of treatment may not be enough for some women.

The government today said it would bypass drug-funding agency Pharmac and pay drug company Roche directly for the drug, which is effective in combating certain kinds of breast cancer.

Ngaire Te Hira, who had a double mastectomy and chemo therapy to tackle her cancer, says for both Maori and non Maori battling breast cancer, today’s announcement couldn't have come at a better time.

“Very very good news but unfortunately I heard that it was only to be for 12 months and we were hoping there would be something more long term and something more sustainable for other women,” Ms Te Hira says.

She says thanks must go to the whanau of women with breast cancer who fought for the change.


Whale Rider star Rawiri Paretene is in South Africa shooting a mini-series about whales for German television ... set in New Zealand.

Secrets of Whales tells the story of a German family who move to New Zealand to distance their teenage daughter from negative influences.

The Hokianga-based actor plays head of a mythical village Te Koura, where the German father studies whales under threat from natural gas exploration.

Also in the cast is Grant Roa, who played his son in Whalerider, and German actor Chris Lambert, who starred in science fiction movie The Highlander.

Mr Paratene says despite setting the film in New Zealander, the scriptwriters haven't asked for any Maori input into the script, and he misses some of the Maori spiritual elements that made Whale Rider an international success.


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