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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, December 08, 2008

WIPC:E attracts big team

A large contingent of Maori educators is in Melbourne this week for the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education, or WIPC:E.

The last conference three years ago was hosted in Hamilton by Te Wananga o Aotearoa, and more than 30 staff of from that wananga will be giving presentations over the next four days.

There will also be a keynote speech by Graham Smith, the head of Whakatane-based Te Wananga o Aotearoa and one of the drivers of a scheme to increase the number of Maori with doctorates.

The conference is being held on the traditional lands of the Kulin Nation in Melbourne.

Themes include finding ways indigenous peoples can maintain their traditions through education, how they can change educational institutions, and how they can shape their own futures.


The judge who has moved his youth court sessions onto a marae says it's not an easy option for rangatahi.

Judge Hemi Taumaunu runs the court at Te Poho o Rawiri marae in Gisborne every second Friday.

He says new ways of thinking are needed to tackle the high number of rangatahi getting into trouble with the law.

“We needed to try and address the disproportionate number of Maori in the criminal justice system and this was an idea really designed to try and achieve that purpose and at the same time still hold the young people accountable and responsible for the crimes that they've committed,” Judge Taumaunu says.

The court worked with the hapu at Te Poho o Rawiri to develop an appropriate tikanga... and each session includes a powhiri, karakia, mihi and kapu ti.


The Ngai Tahu hapu at Little River is nervously watching water and temperature levels in its lake on southwestern coast of Banks Peninsula.

Iaean Cranwell from the Wairewa Runanga says years of deforestation and fertiliser run-off means the shallow Lake Wairewa experiences periodic blooms of toxic cyanobacteria which can kill dogs, farm stock and even humans.

The runanga has a resource consent to open an experimental channel to the sea, but Mr Cranwell says it has to be done at the right time, probably during a high tide in March, so the water level in the lake doesn't drop too low and spark a bloom.

“If we open the lake the baby eels, because that’s what we want, recruitment to come through, if we open the lake now we’ll get a recruitment back into the lake of eels so in 30 years time there will be another lot of eels to catch but if we do that the lake will slowly get worse and worse,” Mr Cranwell says.

Jurisdiction over Lake Wairewa is shared between the Department of Conservation, Environment Canterbury, Christchurch City Council and the Ministry of Fisheries, so it has been a struggle to get anyone to take responsibility.


Associate education minister Pita Sharples has been given responsibilty for expanding a programme aimed at changing the way Maori secondary school pupils are treated in class.

The minister, Anne Tolley, last month told a conference of teachers and researchers invoved in Te Kotahitangi that the new Government is determined to see a larger roll-out.

Current funding only allows 33 schools next year to be part of the programme, which the most recent data shows is lifting the number of Maori children passing NCEA level one from a third to a half.

Pita Sharples says it can make a real difference.

“It's a programme where teachers learn about Maori and Maori students and their expectations and are taught to aim higher with Maori students and set their sights and know about how Maori students think and the culture so that’s really exciting and that will move a lot of Maori in particular out of the area of dysfunction and allow them to succeed,” Dr Sharples says.

He says schools need to become places Maori children and their parents want to be involved in.


The organiser of workshops addressing child abuse says whanau under stress need to know where they can go to get help.

Anton Blank says the first two hui run by advocacy group Te Kahui Mana Ririki have shown that people want to move on from smacking as a parenting tool.

He says cases such as the killing of Nia Glassie have made people realise they can't stay back when they suspect abuse is happening.

Mr Blank says the workshops are discussing discussions when and how whanau can call for help.

“Up to what point can whanau take control for themselves and at what point do we need to bring in outside agencies and that’s a tricky one. We would encourage families in the first instance to do as much as they could but also be aware that there will be a point at which the issue is much more than they can deal with and they need professional help and intervention,” Mr Blank says.

More workshops are planned for the new year, but Te Kahui Mana Ririki also believes it needs to reach Maori families through television campaigns.


A scheme to get more Maori stories on to the big screen is bearing fruit.
Te Paepae Ataata now has four scripts under development.

Film Commission member Tainui Stephens says the initiative, which is a joint initiative with Maori industry body Nga Aho Whakaari, tackles the critical issue in getting films made.

“Everything revolves around the script. If you’ve got a good script, there’s a direct line between that good script and funders, production teams, distributors and so on. Everyone gauges their interest in the value of a film project by the quality of the script,” Mr Stephens says.

Many of the young broadcasters who developed skills in Maori Television are now turning their attention to film.


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