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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Council conflicts remembered

A former Maori Auckland Regional Councillor says Maori representation on a possible Auckland super-city needs to be about more than dedicated seats.

The ARC recommended to the Royal Commission on Auckland governance that any super-city council should included Maori seats, possibly voted for on Maori electorate lines.

Manukau harbour claimant Nganeko Minhinnick from Ngati te Ata, who served a term on one of the ARC's two short-lived Maori seats in the late 1980s, says while it was good to have a voice at the table, her fellow councillors found it hard to cope with a Maori viewpoint.

She was barred from sitting on matters which related the Manukau because of an alleged conflict of interest, despite being elected by the Maori round its shores.

“So I used to say to them, ‘are you saying I own the harbour, because that’s what I’m claiming.’ ‘No, no, no, you don’t own the harbour.’ So where’s the conflict? The planning committee was much the same. They used to say ‘You can’t do this,’ and I used to think how can you contribute to those planning sessions or water board decisions and give your experience and your expertise when you are seen to have a conflict of interest,” Mrs Minihinnick says.

She says more than two or three Maori councilors would be needed to represent the diversity of Maori interests in the region.


Labour leader Phil Goff is predicting the Maori Party's decision to link up with National will be strained by the deepening economic crisis.

Labour is holding a two-day caucus in Auckland to plan its year ... and work out how it can win back Maori voters.

Mr Goff says the Maori Party was entitled to support the National government with a confidence and supply agreement.

“But it may come back to bite them if the Government does not deliver on its promises and if we find out that the people who suffer most through this period of recession are the people that the Maori Party might otherwise claim to represent,” Mr Goff says.

He says the Government has under-estimated how much the international situation will affect New Zealand, especially as Asian markets are slowing faster than expected.


Meanwhile, the chair of the Maori Tourism Council says a downturn in the number of international visitors will force Maori tourism operators to look to the domestic market.

John Barrett says many are using the lull to refine their products and review marketing strategies.

“New Zealanders tend not to, consciously or unconsciously, patronize Maori tourism operations. That’s what all the surveys say. But certainly the opportunity is here now for us to market more to the domestic market, and we will be doing that,” he says.


A big turn-out from Tainui is expected at Waitangi next week, accompanying King Tuheitia on his first trip to Treaty commemorations as Maori King.

Rahui Papa, the deputy chair of the Tainui tribal executive, says more than 500 people are expected to make the trip north.

That includes paddlers for the iwi's six waka, which are more usually seen on the Waikato River.

He says river paddling calls for different skills than the sea, but the paddlers, and the canoes, are familiar with the conditions.

King Tuheitia and his supporters, as well as members of the Tongan royal family, will be welcomed to Waitangi on the fourth of February, to relieve pressure on their hosts the following day.


There are fears a plan to cut 200 doctors' positions from Auckland hospitals will disproportionately affect Maori.

The region's District Health Boards are considering the move because they can't fill the positions.

Curtis Walker from Te Ohu Rata O Aotearoa, the association of Maori doctors, says Maori often put off seeking primary health care.

“We also tend not to have the dollars to go to private accident and emergency clinics or get full private health care. The first impact, if it were to go ahead, which we hope it won’t, given that Maori wind up in hospital more and needing to access the public health system so there’s a greater impact for Maori there in terms of hospital services and waiting in the emergency department,” Dr Walker says

Rather than trying to fudge its staffing numbers, the district health boards should address the problems behind the 38 percent turnover of doctors in their hospitals.


A top Maori surfer wants to again see Maori again dominate the sport.

Raglan-based Daniel Kereopa, regarded as one of the best New Zealand has produced, was just beaten out by a 17-year old at the recent nationals held at Piha.

He says a lot of talent is emerging talent in the junior grades, but more work needs to be done to put Maori back on top of the waves.

“We used to be the force of New Zealand surfing. We need to get out kids in early, get them into the water, roll them into the competitions and dominate the sport,” he says.

Kereopa is looking forward to more big wave surfing during the winter months.


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