Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, December 15, 2008

Treaty status too untidy

The author of a new book on the Treaty of Waitangi says the status of the treaty in New Zealand's law and constitution needs tidying up.

Matthew Palmer, a former dean of Law at Victoria University, is advocating a new court, drawn from members of the High Court and the Waitangi Tribunal, which can rule definitively on the meaning of the treaty in specific cases.

His research, done while he was New Zealand law Foundation's 2005 international research fellow, left him with the conclusion the treaty's constitutional status is one of uncertainty.

“The Treaty of Waitangi's status and force in law in New Zealand is incoherent in the sense that it is in the law for some purposes and it’s not in the law for other purposes and it could be in the law depending on whether the courts want it to be in individual instances so I really came to the view that some tidying up might be helpful,” Professor Palmer says.

His book, The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand's Law and Constitution, is intended to be both academically robust and interesting to the ordinary reader.


Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says the Government's new testing regime for schools will improve Maori education.

The Education (National Standards) Amendment Bill gives the Education Minister the power to set national literacy and numeracy standards.

Opposition MPs say such testing regimes had been disastrous in the United States and Britain.

But Dr Sharples says it will put pressure on teachers to raise their game.

“Teachers generally aim too low for Maori. They have low expectations of them, and they excuse them and don’t even try to interact with them and inspire them, Now if we have these standards up, there’s the benchmark, the teachers have to make that benchmark instead of treating us like a pack of dummies,” Dr Sharples says.

He will be extending Te Kotahitanga, a professional development programme which shows teachers how to interact with Maori students.


Step by patient step, a Maori academic is recreating the pathways of the ancestors.

Rawiri Taonui, the head of Maori and indigenous studies at Canterbury University, has just completed a solo hike through the middle of the South Island.

The trek followed the route of Rakaihautu, who is said to have created the lakes and mountains of Te Waipounamu on his journey round the island.

Mr Taonui's work schedule doesn't allow him to walk to Bluff and back to Banks Peninsula as Rakaihautu did, but he did get from St Arnaud to Arthurs Pass in 12 days.

“It's a really good way to connect with yourself and learn lessons about patience and planning and respect for the environment.

“In a Maori context, our ancestors did a lot of this sort of traveling around the greenstone trails and different pathways all over the North Island and it’s a really good way of reconnecting, becoming closer to how they may have seen things,” Mr Taonui says.


Maori Television is putting its hand up to cover any fight between boxers David Tua and Shane Cameron.

The management for Cameron, who has just been ranked number No 6 on the World Boxing Organisation heavyweight list, is talking of a match with either former Manly rugby league player John Hopoate or former world title contender Tua.

The big money is likely to come from foreign television rights, but Maori Television chief executive Jim Mather says his channel has already had discussions with the boxers about New Zealand coverage.

“For some time now we’ve had David Tua and Shane Cameron signed to Maori Television so hopefully we’ll be able to bring their super fight free to air to our viewers should it come off,” Mr Mather says.

Maori Television has benefited greatly from signing up the Breakers' basketball team just before it embarked on a winning spree, and its relationship with New Zealand Rugby league is also bringing in new viewers.


Ngai Tahu is moving to take greater control of one of the tribe's most important sources of kaimoana.

The Otakou Runanga is seeking to turn almost all of Otago harbour into a mataitai or Maori controlled reserve.

Runanga chair Tahu Potiki says it has been encouraged to do so by other harbour users, and it will invite recreational fishers onto the management committee.

He says the harbour has a special place in tribal affairs.

“The big taonga kai for our people down here are cockles, the tuaki. There’s quite a tradition. We probably have the reputation for the biggest juiciest cockles within the Ngai Tahu food network. Just as people look to Awarua for their oysters and Murihiku Rakiura Maori for their muttonbirds, they look to Otakou for our cockles,” Mr Potiki says.

The cockle beds near the head of the harbour are believed to be among the biggest in the southern hemisphere.


The chair of Hawkes Bay iwi Ngati Kahungunu wants to see a fleet of Polynesian waka circle the globe.

Ngahiwi Tomoana is pushing for the creation of a Hawaiiki brand, bringing together people from the Pacific in ventures involving fish, fruit and cultural exchange.

He says it's a way for Polynesians to celebrate their common ancestry and improve the prospects of those who come after ... but it's going to require some inspiration.

“In order to astonish ourself about this Hawaiikiness and to create inspiration there’s a move to create a fleet of double hulled waka that will sail the Pacific and I think that’s great. I’m more ambitious than that. I think we should sail this fleet around the world, finish the job, as I put it to our people. We’ve come all this way, to Aotearoa, to the southernmost part of the world, let’s finish the job and sail right around the world,” Mr Tomoana says.

There are also plans for a wananga on the Hawaiiki kaupapa to be established in Rarotonga.


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