Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Maori ill served by council processes

The chair of the Auckland Regional Council says the present systems for Maori involvement in local government aren't working in the region.

Mike Lee says Maori representation is one of the most important issues the Royal Commission on Auckland governance needs to settle.

The commission's report, which is due by the end of March, is expected to recommend the merger of Auckland's councils into some sort of super city.

Mr Lee says there should be one place Maori can go to make their voice heard, rather than have to make their case to multiple agencies.

He says Maori representation at the council table could be accommodated by using existing parliamentary electorates as wards, including those parts of the Maori electorates which fall within the region.


Training more Maori is being touted as a solution to a shortage of junior doctors.

Curtis Walker from Te Onu Rata O Aotearoa, the association of Maori doctors, says plans by district health boards in the Auckland region to cut the number of resident doctors' positions don't make sense.

The boards says they can't fill more then 200 positions, so it makes sense to take them off the books.

But Dr Walker says the boards need to look at the reasons behind the high turnover of doctors.

“No point training doctors if you’re just going to lose them. The Auckland District Health Board has a 38 percent turnover rate. That’s almost half their staff turning over in one year. To us that says if you can halve that turnover rate by being a better employer, you would fix the problem without having to cut doctors and without having to cut services,” Dr Walker says.

Maori doctors are more inclined to stay in New Zealand and work for their communities rather than chase the money on offer overseas, so it makes sense to train more of them.


The head of Canterbury University's school of Maori and indigenous studies says a new scholarship programme fits well with a Ngai Tahu initiative to revitalise Te reo Maori in the region.

The university is to put up 300 places for students learning te reo me ona tikanga, at a cost of $70,000.

Rawiri Taonui says in past generations the number of Maori speakers in Christchurch was boosted by young Maori coming south for trade training schemes, but now the speakers need to be trained at home.


Maori Party leader Tariana Turia says the decision on which Maori flag flies on Auckland Harbour Bridge should be left to the region's iwi.

Prime minister John Key has indicated he would support a flag being raised for next year's Waitangi Day, but it's up to Maori to agree on whether it should be the 1835 United Tribes ensign, the red and black Tino Rangatiratanga flag or some other option.

Mrs Turia says Wanganui iwi don't ask anyone's permission to fly the tino rangatiratanga flag as a symbol of solidarity and Maori self determination.

“On every occasion where Pakaitore is used, the tino rangatiranga flag is raised. We’re not going to ask Ngapuhi or Ngati Whatua for their permission, so why should the rest of us have a say about something that’s up there, It’s their bridge, it’s their riohe, it’s their mana whenua, and maybe that’s a message that should be given to John Key,” Mrs Turia says.


A short film by Wiremu Grace has been accepted for screening at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival.

Kehua is the story of a Maori boy raised in Australia who returns home for a tangi, and discovers he has a gift for seeing Maori spirits, but struggles to understand their messages.

The Ngati Toa writer says the film's lead, Porirua youngster Arama Vincent Wihapi, is an exciting new talent who stood out among the 54 who auditioned for the lead role.

The low budget 13-minute short film would not have been possible without support from his whanau, including his mother, novelist Patricia Grace, the runanga which supplied a vans and the cousins who laid down the hangi and filled in as extras.


It's the end of a great partnership.

Gerry Merito, a founder member of the Howard Morrison Quartet, died yesterday morning, hours after performing a solo concert at a Waikato hotel.

Actor Tem Morrison, a recent member of the Quartet, says it has been an honour to share the stage with his uncle Sir Howard and Merito.

He says the pair had a rare chemistry which sustained them over more than half a century of music and humour.

“Gerry was like Uncle Howard’s backbone. Uncle Howard needs somebody to feed off for all the humour to have a base, and with Gerry as his right hand man, that ability to just have that humour and there’s no thought required. They just know each other so well. Uncle Howard didn’t have a quartet without Gerry being there,” Mr Merito says.

Funeral arrangements are still being made for Gerry Merito, who was from Tuhoe and Ngati Awa.


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